Sunday, January 22, 2006

Saturday in the Big South

All right, let’s just get this out of the way up front, because my boasting muscles are going nuts and if I don’t stretch them soon, I’m going to have a bigger headache than Bo Ryan. From my previous post: “Predix for tonight: UNCA 82 VMI 70, BSC 71 Liberty 65, Winthrop 83 High Point 77, Radford 70 Coastal 69.”

May I have the envelope for the Radford-Coastal game please. And the final score is … Radford 70, Coastal 69.

I’d be even more pleased with myself if “Predicting Big South conference results” was a skill that didn’t rank somewhere between “balancing a spoon on your nose” and “being able to name and rank every Rolling Stones album, even the ‘80s and ‘90s crap” on the scale of practical application. But hey, it’s something. On to the recaps:


If I had one question to ask God Duane Reboul, it’d be this: “Which Thomas Viglianco do you prefer, the one that leads the team in scoring while bombing away from outside, or the one that scrapes his points at the free throw line while scooping up rebounds and dropping dimes?”

His answer would probably be along the lines of “the one in the middle,” but the JCCW (as has likely been made clear by now) would rather shake the hand of the latter. That’s the Viglianco the Panthers got Saturday—his 7 points were his lowest total since the Winthrop game and his four shots his fewest attempts in who-knows-how-long, but he more than made up for it with 7 boards, 5 assists, and only one turnover. The way Paul and Powe are playing, BSC is going to be better inside than their Big South peers (save one) even when Viglianco is prowling the perimeter. But when he moves inside, the combination of the three of them (6-9, 6-7, 6-5-but-plays-three-inches-bigger) basically ensures domination of the glass.

And that’s exactly what won the Liberty game. BSC didn’t shoot the ball all that much better (46.7 percent to 44), committed one more turnover, got an off-game from Collins (0-4 from three) and shot a disturbing 55.6 percent from the free throw line. But the Panthers also outrebounded the Flyin’ Falwells 36-26, including 11 demoralizing offensive boards (as Lynchburg’s News and Advance points out beautifully in their description of one three-board sequence).

Other notes:

BSC: With the Panthers back on the road Reboul went back to the freshman-free de facto six-man rotation he used at the end of the nonconference season. After seeing a combined 39 minutes the last two contests, LeCory Ruffin saw 6 vs. Liberty … Horton’s heating up. He’s now 6-of-9 from downtown the last two games, both of which he finished in double-digits … There’s no stopping the Masters P these days. Powe and Paul combined for 35 points and 14 boards while shooting a beautiful 14-of-21 and only turning the ball over twice. The Panthers have now won five straight (all five admittedly coming against the Big South’s five “C” division members) and those guys are the single biggest reason why.

Liberty: Same old story: Larry Blair puts forth Herculean effort (26 points, 6 boards, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 turnover), frontcourt puts forth French military-esque effort (5 players, 103 minutes, 10 points, 15 rebounds) . If you see Larry Blair, give him a hug. … The Liberty bench recorded more personal fouls (7) than either points or rebounds (4 and 6, respectively) in its 44 total minutes. … Bright spot: Anthony Smith had a solid game playing Bullet to Blair’s Red McGibbon, shooting 6-of-10 for 15 points and notching 3 assists to 1 turnover.


Good news, Big South: Like Daft Punk, Lord Winthrop is human after all. James Shuler’s ankle injury may have something to do with it (he shot 1-7 from the field Saturday) but the biggest reason behind the Eagles’ apparent return to mortality is their sudden inability to take care of the ball: vs. High Point their turnover ratio was an unbe-expletive-lievable 34.9 percent. Chris Gaynor, previously far-and-away the Big South’s best point guard in assist-to-turnover ratio, has now turned the ball over 9 times to only 8 assists in two games while his backup, De’Andre Adams, managed 5 giveaways in only 13 minutes Saturday.
Thanks to the Eagles’ generosity, the I Can’t Believe They’re Not Panthers would have taken the game had they not turned the ball over 22 times themselves and not shot a Pontiac Aztek-ugly 4-of-16 from deep (compared to Winthrop’s 11-of-24).
Which is the flip side of the “Look, they’re not invincible” coin. Winthrop hit eight fewer shots; allowed their opponent’s best player (Easy A.Z. Reid) to go for 24 and 11; recorded fewer assists and steals and committed more turnovers; were on the road in front of as big and hostile a crowd as they’ll see in the Big South; and they still won. Human, yes, but barely.


It’s official: the 2006 Big South can be neatly divided into three divisions. There’s the “A” division, made up of Winthrop; the “B” division, made up of BSC, High Point, and Radford; and the “C” division, home to the conference’s other five teams. As of today Division “A” is 6-0 against the other two and Division “B” is 10-0 in their last 10 games against Division “C,” including (more impressively) a 4-0 road record.
This has been the closest in those 10 games Division “C” has come to a win. And when you see that the height-impaired Fakecocks outrebounded Radford 35-30, out-assisted them 19-10 while committing the same number of turnovers, and got 37 bench points to Radford’s zero (!), you have to think it should have been one.
But Coastal can’t put it all together. Usually the problem is that CCU’s frontcourt can’t keep up with Leasure and Paelay in the backcourt; this time, while doghoused backup center Matt Brennan was going for 14 and 9 in only 18 minutes, their star guards went 5-22 overall and 3-15 from three, combining for 19 points in 72 minutes. When those two guys put up those kind of numbers, it’s essentially impossible for Coastal to win.
So why were those two so off? Some credit has to go to the Highlander D, and it wouldn’t have even mattered without another ho-hum 28-point effort from Whit Holcomb-Faye, but Buzz Peterson wants you to know it’s a) his players’ fault for whining about how tired they were b) his assistants’ fault for listening to the whines and arguing for a light practice c) his own fault for listening to his assistants. Please Hammer, don’t hurt ‘em.


VMI assistant coach Daniel Williams is filling in for head man Duggar Baucom while Duggar recuperates from surgery. If Williams wants to become his own head man someday, he’d better work on his halftime pep talks: this is the second straight game the Keydets have been dive-bombed after the break. The Colonels Mustard went from up three at the break against UNCA to trailing 70-56 with 6:19 to play. Could VMI’s Indy 500 pace be wearing themselves out instead of their opponents?
At least VMI finally got Matt Murrer, the nation’s leader in FG percentage (you read that right) more shots than the five he took against BSC. He got 12. Too bad he only hit five of them.
And while VMI’s struggling at the moment, since it broke a four-game skid UNCA’s more than willing to take the win, especially with F Chad Mohn still out via injury. Joe Barber took up the slack with an 18-and-15 dub-dub.

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