Friday, February 03, 2006

Big South midweek


Sub-standard methods of following your favorite college basketball team as they try to extend their longest winning streak since the Darrell Hammond administration:

1. Underwater radio
2. Cigarette smoke signal play-by-play
3. Mike Patrick and Dick Vitale
4. Taking two-second peeks at the team’s “LiveStats” site while frantically trying to get your two pages of sports in under deadline for your community newspaper day job.

Take it from me, number 2 (that’s right, any future potential employers, number 2! 2!) is not the way to go. And 4 probably really sucks, too, but I couldn’t say from personal experience.

What I thought I could could glean through the, uh, smoke, were two things: the Misses Peacock apparently stroking threes and bricking everything else; and Ed Horton going, as he kids say, to town.

Not bad for gleaning, really. Horton finished with a season-best 19 points on 6-of-8 shooting (!) from the floor and 4-4 from the stripe. He also failed to turn the ball over in a team-high 30 minutes. Horton’s outburst is an excellent example of why BSC is hotter than hotterson at the moment: the Panthers are getting at least one he-ate-his-Wheaties-today performance from someone each game, but rather than losing focus as the big plays and points go elsewhere, the rest of the team just find other ways to contribute. Viglianco goes 4-of-12, but grabs eight boards. McMillan takes only 3 shots and scores 3 points, but racks up 4 boards, 4 assists, and 5 steals. Powe turns the ball over four times, but shoots a ridiculous 6-of-7. When one guy brings his A game and the everybody else still brings their B+ game, you get the kind of report card you don’t mind bringing home to your head coach.

Contrast that with the Coastal win over Winthrop, where Shuler disappeared as Bradshaw and Martin tried to carry the Eagles. Or how Holcomb-Faye started passing on 3’s as Ross warmed up in the Radford-BSC tilt last weekend. Or, obvious example, how in this game UNCA’s Michael Ellis ascended to a higher state of basketball consciousness (9-11 FG, 2-2 3’s, 9-10 FT, 29 TP, 7 RB) while Joe Barber, Garrett Moles, Omar Collington (who, in his defense, was suffering from the flu), and Reid Augst shoot a combined 4-of-23 and score 9 points in 27 minutes.

And oh yeah, about that first-half UNCA three-point shooting? 50 percent from 3 (3-of-6), 26 percent from 2 (5-of-19). Ouch.

Other notes:

BSC: Time for Dwayne Paul to stop shooting the three again. He’s gone for 0-for-his-last 7 over BSC’s last three games … Despite Sir Paul’s long-range waywardness, BSC has shot above 50 percent from the floor their last three games. Kenpom sez they now rank 27th in the country in raw offensive efficiency … Reboul on the win streak: “I'm really proud of the guys because it's really hard to maintain that intensity. You play so many games with very little preparation time. You've got two or three days and you've got to play again and everybody's giving us their best shot.” Wait, High Point’s game-long flat tire routine was their best shot? UNCA allowing your team to shoot 63 percent in the second half is their best shot? Coach, you’re great, but you do realize this sounds like you think your opponents are a half-notch above Savannah St., right?

UNCA: Eddie Biedenbach: “[W]e didn’t battle inside tonight. We let them score inside way too easily. We just gave them too many easy baskets throughout the night, especially in the second half when we were hanging around.” Is it possible that for once, Biedenbach’s Gauntlet of Power Conference Horrors has simply beaten his team down rather than toughen them up? Half the Bulldogs have had the “hampered by injury” tag applied at some point this season it seems, and there’s no straightforward reason a team that starts at 6-9 (Barber), 6-7 (Moles), 6-7 (Harrell) across the front line and brings in a 6-8 senior (Mohn) off the bench should be so passive inside. … A UNCA guard (Collington the first go-round) scored 29 points against BSC in both games this season. It ended up not even half-mattering, but the perimeter defense might be a something for the Panthers to work on if the two teams meet in the conference tourney.


I’d break out the old “These two teams are so similar, are we sure they’re not the same team? Has anyone ever seen them in the same place at the same time?” line here, except that the “Just everyone who was in the Millis Center the other night, moron” retort is so obvious, I’ll skip it.

But seriously: Both are upper-up-tempo teams, both have a Player of the Year candidate who’s struggling at the moment (Holcomb-Faye and Easy AZ Reid), both have Mad Bombers playing the 3 (Dan Ross and Troy Bowen), and most obviously both are 5-4 and tied for third and beat the other at home and are sweating the Fakecocks coming up in the rearview mirror.

But there were some whopping differences Wednesday night. First is that one team committed to rebounding and the other didn’t. For the second straight game, Chris Oliver got ever-so-slightly-more-than-zero help from his teammates on the glass. Take away each team’s leading rebounder (Oliver, with 9, for RU and Reid, with 13, for HPU) and High Point’s starters out-boarded MacRadford’s 15 to 7. Another is that while both teams’ stars tossed up bricks all night--Holcomb-Faye and Reid combined to shoot 7-for-29--only one found other ways to contribute. Reid: 13 boards, 4 assists, a block, a steal (also 4 TOs). WHF: 1 board, 2 assists, 2 TOs, no steals. Maybe Holcomb-Faye is still hobbled in some fashion, but if so it’s a damn unusual move for a coach to play a hobbled player all 40 minutes. The other difference is that High Point shot the hell out of the three: 9-for-20 to Radford’s 5-for-17.

Of course, when the I Can’t Believe They’re Not Panthers! played at Radford, many of the same arguments applied in the other direction, so I wouldn’t consider this a cause for separation. For the time being, let’s consider them one team named Radhighford Point and be done with it.


By now, that 2-1 Big South start for the Keydets seems to have happened, oh, sometime around January, 1986, doesn’t it?

I don’t think you can blame Duggar Baucom for being surprised that Larry Blair didn’t take the game-winning shot, but it would have been a fairly silly decision on Randy Dunton’s part to give his star the ball: his star had shot a gawd-awful 7-for-23 (1-of-7 on threes) to that point. Blair’s rebounding (13 boards), assist work (3 to 0 TO), steals (3), and willingness to go to the line (where he went 8-of-9) are all very nice, but what had Dunton likely dancing around his kitchen in his pajamas was that Blair’s hitherto anonymous supporting cast won the game. The Flyin’ Falwells’ four other starters plus Evan Risher finished the game with 45 points on 51 percent shooting as a group, with Risher’s 9 points on 4-of-7, 8 assists, 3 TO, 1 steal, and a super-clutch shot especially promising.

As for VMI, despite the steep drop (and I’m putting it politely) in the quality of competition, they managed to lose to Liberty for the same reason they lost to Winthrop: poor defensive rebounding and turnovers. VMI shot better than Liberty did (43.6 percent to 41.2), held Blair in check despite the veneer of his 23 points, and played excellent perimeter defense (LU 3-of-18 on threes). But by the time Liberty was done grabbing 14 boards and forcing 16 VMI turnovers, they’d taken 13 more shots than the Keydets. Reggie Williams had a monster game (23 points on 9-of-14, 6 boards, 5 asissts, 1 TO, 1 block), but like his teammates, even he could stand to do a little better on the defensive glass.

The two are now tied for the Big South cellar, that terrible spot in the standings where all the other kids look down from their Big South Tournament treehouse with the sign “No Girls Losers allowed!”

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