Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Monday, Monday...so good to me BSC (and Radford)

Before anything else, let all Birmingham-Southern fans come together now and make a burnt offering of Savannah St. guarantee checks, Karl Hobbs's cell phone, and the ticket stubs from Gerry McNamara’s homecoming game as a sacrifice to the Scheduling Gods, who delivered High Point unto our basketball team only two days after their most emotional, most grueling, most heartbreaking loss of the year. We thank and praise you, Scheduling Gods! (Now, if you could get us that game with Samford we’ve been hoping for, that’d be swell.)

I don’t want to suggest that a 74-58 victory in which the winning team never trailed and never led by less than eight in the second half was purely a product of being in the right place at the right time. The performance BSC put on Monday night—arguably its best of the year, given the opponent—would have trumped the I Can’t Believe They’re Not Panthers! nine times out of 10. But the margin of victory and ease with which BSC handled HPU (on the road, no less) wasn’t all Panther brilliance. I mean, Winthrop only won there by three, and any ‘Southern fan who’s ready to say BSC is 13 points better than Winthrop needs to have a cold towel administered to their forehead and lie down for a little while.

With that said, until Saturday at least it's basically impossible to argue any team besides Birmingham-Southern as the Big South’s second-best. BSC is 6-1 in Big South play with the only loss coming at Winthrop, three of those wins coming on the road, and all six by double-digit margins. A win at home vs. Radford Saturday would open up at least a three-game spread between BSC and all other challengers for that second spot.

And there was, as they say, much rejoicing. (Also—shhh! keep it down! I don’t want to jinx things!—but if BSC beats MacRadford, it’s time to start contemplating how close the Panthers would be to an NIT bid. But don’t tell anybody I told you.)


BSC: After another scintillating outing from coach Reboul’s Georgetown-esque offense (after last weekend, I’d rather be associated with the Hoyas than the guys who invented it)—scroll through the play-by-play and see how many times BSC scores via lay-up—BSC is now the undisputed Big South king of offensive efficiency. Get past the Panthers’ 109.5 points-per-100-possessions, and only Winthrop is even in the picture … Panther Line of the Night? Unquestionably the 4-of-6 for 11 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 turnover performance from Bucky McMillan. 7 rebounds for Bucky McMillan! If a flock of pigs just landed in your willow tree out back, you know why … Six BSC players all saw between 25 and 32 minutes and all six scored between 8 and 14 points, five of them in double figures. The Flying Wallendas weren’t this balanced. … Especially impressive is that BSC rolled with Sir Paul having an off-night. He shot 3-11 and turned the ball over 3 times. Of course, he also had 8 boards, so we’re quibbling.

High Point: If you’re a High Point fan, I think you can basically just write this game off for the above-mentioned scheduling reasons (which is what we BSC fans are happier and happier to do with the ‘Bama-hangover-induced Winthrop catastrophe). But it still can’t be good to see the team’s offense go so completely in the tank because Easy AZ Reid had one bad game. Saying “As Reid goes, so High Point goes” can’t be any truer than it is now, when HPU’s leading scorer shoots 4-of-14, and instead of taking up the slack everybody else just follows right along. The other four HPU starters shot 9-of-27, including second-leading scorer Akeem Scott’s 1-of-7 from three… The bright spot? Issa Konare, the league’s leading shot-blocker, had five more. Too bad that exceeded his points total by one.


Now THAT—Holcomb-Faye popping for 24, the red-hot Oliver tossing up a 28 and 8 while combining for three assists—is the MacRadford we’ve all come to know and love. (Well, at least we love the nickname.) Obviously he can’t really complain, seeing as how the Highlanders won handily, but what’s it like to be Dan Ross—score 23 points one game, a goose egg three games later? (Ross did have 4 steals and 5 boards, mind you, so it’s not like he didn’t contribute.)
It was a very, very good night for victorious point guards in the Big South: McMillan’s 8 dimes were only one better than the 7 put up by MacRadford’s Andre Bynum, who failed to commit a turnover despite an Othern Southern lineup that started four guards. Scary.
But the biggest reason for the Radford win? Good old-fashioned free throw shooting. The Highlanders went 23-of-28; the Bucs went an unsightly 15-of-26, good for 56 percent. CSU should be commended (and coach Barclay Radebaugh does so here) for out-rebounding Radford 39-32 on a night when due to injury and suspension 7 of the 9 Buc players seeing 10 minutes or more were guards. But that kind of atrocious shooting from both the stripe and the field (37 percent overall), combined with a porous defense (115.4 defensive rating), means that their cleaning of the glass is not that different from mopping a floor just before walking over it in muddy boots.

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