Monday, February 20, 2006

Leasure's Redickulous game (CCU 69, BSC 59)

(Blogger's Note: This got written Sunday but couldn't be posted 'til now thanks to various technical difficulties, including a rather snotty Blogger that wouldn't let me login to post and the lack of WiFi in the University of South Alabama's Mitchell Center, where I spent my Monday covering the Alabama high school hoops playoffs. Blame them. More coming prolly tonight.)

Coming to you live on tape from Kimbel Arena in Conway, SC, Fox Sports South brings you Coastal Carolina vs. Birmingham-Southern! Join the JCCW as he recaptures each and every minute of excitement through the cutting-edge technology known as "taking notes during the game recording his reactions and typing them up later with jokes!" It's the biggest Big South game on the biggest mid-major Saturday of the season! Even an entire paragraph full of exclamation points doesn't do it justice! So let's get to it!


Matt Hogue and the FSS crew impress me with a nifty color-coded graphic showing how Jack Leasure could someday pass J.J. Redick in career 3's, which'd be nice--CCU'd grab so many headlines their logo rooster's muscles would bulge by another 40 percent at least. Cliff Ellis then predictably unimpresses me by referring to three-point land as "the bonusphere," easily the lamest attempt at coining a new basketball term since some idiot blogger referred to UNC-Asheville as the Misses Peacock.


19:03: You know, as omens go, BSC's first possession could have been a wee bit more positive. And by "wee bit," I mean "a gazillion times." Viglianco slams an open three off the back iron, but does collect his own rebound only for Powe, Horton, and Viglianco to each pass up an open look with the shot clock winding down. The buzzer sounds with Viglianco still in the middle of what I'm sure would have been a dazzling spin move. At least things can only get better from here.

15:33: Spoke too soon. The score is 2-2. Thus far the two teams have combined to shoot 1-of-10 from the field. BSC's five possessions have gone 1. Shot clock violation 2. Offensive foul 3. Brick 4. Brick-rebound-brick-rebound-two free throws 5. Brick. Chevy Chase's talk show got off to a better start than this.

13:22: Collins finally hits BSC's first field goal, a three from the left corner. That it gives BSC a 5-4 lead tells you what supremely gracious hosts Coastal have been thus far.

12:20: Leasure misses a 3. Coastal grabs the offensive board and finds Steven Sexton outside, so open and alone Ted Kaczynski wonders if Sexton should join a book club or something. And ... brick. Ye gods.

10:22: Matt Brennan, the 6-8 Fakecock freshman for whom the phrase "tall drink of water" was invented gets loose along the baseline and slams home a tremendous reverse jam that gets the crowd really involved for the first time. BSC's response? Turnover by Ed Horton, a Sunday stroll to the basket by Pele Paelay (tying the game at 8), airball by Ifi Ehirim. C'mon, fellas.

8:41: I do try not to complain about officiating or trot out the well-worn "home-cooking" cry, the eternal motto of the Royal Order of Sore Losers, but the zebras really do miss one here as Reggie Peyton clearly makes a clean block on a Paelay jumper and gets whistled. Ellis calls it a "fortuitous call," and CCU takes advantage by hitting the first free throw, tracking down back-to-back offensive boards, and getting a Paelay jumper to tie things at 11. Neither team exactly putting together an Izzo-esque performance on the defensive glass as of now.

7:33: Collins drives and scores with an off-balance jumper. Tough shot, great sign.

7:15: Bad sign: Leasure comes off a screen and misses a wide open 3. Why bad? Because I just know all these misses mean is that he'll drain a bunch of impossible shots later. (Blogger's Note: I swear on everything holy I took this note the first time through. I mean, with a guy like Leasure, you know he's not going to stay cold the whole game. A beer left in the sun would have a better shot.)

4:08: Aside from Collins, who has 7, the rest of the Panthers are playing like they had a few too many Bud Lights out on the beach last night. In the last minute and a half alone Viglianco has missed a wide open 3, McMillan has kindly donated two points to the CCU cause by simply dropping the ball just across midcourt, and Horton has turned the ball over twice.

1:46: Good Chant defense, another BSC shot clock violation. Honey? Could you hide any breakable stuff that, you know, you like for a while?

1:10: It's one-on-five right now as Collins continues his solo mission to salvage the game for BSC. An and-one basket gets the Panthers within 1, 23-22.

Buzzer: Oh, crap. Powe got a dunk with 25 seconds left to give BSC the lead, but Leasure hit a fade-away three just ahead of the halftime buzzer take it right back. Saying the play screams "momentum swing" doesn't do it justice, since it's more like it hired the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to sing "momentum swing" in an echo chamber. (Huge play, is what I'm saying.)


Hmm ... yeah, I'm just going to have to burn down the Fox Sports studios. The Panthers' halftime stats not only incorrectly list their three-point shooting as 0-for-9 (they hit two), but they're listed under "BSU." Bet Coastal didn't know they were secretly entered in a BracketBusters matchup against Ball State, did they? Cripes, I can see some Random McRandom hoops writer from Portland, Maine making that mistake, but Fox has already used the BSC logo--which just happens to include the initials B-S-C--a half-dozen times this broadcast. No one in charge here either follows the league closely enough OR even watches their own broadcast closely enough to know BSC's a College?

(Yes, this is a pet peeve of mine, and yes, I could probably find more important things to whine about. But I don't wanna. Leave me alone.)


18:46: Yup. As expected, Leasure drains 3's on each of Coastal's first two second-half possessions. BSC was up one and is now down eight, 32-24, after controlling the ball only once themselves.

18:14: Oh for heaven's sake. Panther time-out, followed by a turnover in the backcourt anyway. Leasure then shockingly misses a three, only for Paul to throw his outlet pass right back to Leasure anyway. McMillan picks him up, but inexplicably plays him to drive rather than shoot the 3, and now it's 35-24.

15:38: After a Paelay 3 apparently designed to show that the entire team is unconscious rather than just Leasure, Collins hits his own 3 for BSC's first field goal of the second half. The two droughts from the field to start each half for BSC totaled exactly 11 minutes.

14:59: Viglianco is having what in English soccer terms would be called "a torrid time of it." Joseph Harris strips him of the ball and TV fouls the bejesus out of him, earning the intentional call. 42-28 after Paelay converts the extra possession.

13:32: Cliff Ellis drops an unexpected bomb of insight on viewers, disclosing that after his 30-plus years of coaching he can finally reveal that North Carolina's Dean Smith was, in fact, a good basketball coach.

12:43: Three-pointer by the scorching hot Collins. 18 of BSC's 33 points are his. If anyone had taken me up on that wager I posted earlier this season about "BSC won't lose when Collins scores 20," I'd be in serious trouble.

11:42: BSC shot clock violation. Shoot me.

10:46: Colin Stevens pulls up for yet another ridiculous three. It's 51-33. A lot of it is lackluster defending, but a lot of it is just remarkable shooting from CCU, too.

9:56: Har har. Horton blocks a Leasure three and Stevens stops the breakway with a garden-variety hack, which the refs call an intentional for precisely zero reason than because they gave one to Viglianco earlier. Ellis refers to the call as "fortuitous," breaking his own world record for the number of uses of "fortuitous" in a basketball broadcast.

9:31: Moses Sonko and Harris each pick up their fourth foul in the space of a few seconds and both head to the bench. If BSC was going to mount some kind of comeback, this would be the kind of scenario they'd need. It will likely also require Zeus smiting Leasure with a thunderbolt.

8:37: Viglianco makes his best play of the game, passing out of the double-team to a wide-open Powe for the slam. 51-40 CCU. This is the first field goal of the half by any Panther besides Collins.

7:08: Hmm. Collins hits yet another 3 to cut the lead to single digits at 53-45. Intriguing.

5:46: You know, if BSC was going to leave a Fakecock open, you would hope that they'd at least not make it the guy who's already hit six 3's. You would hope. Leasure buries the open look and it's 58-47 again.

5:26: AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH Bucky, you know I think the world of you, but a bumping foul at midcourt on a good foul shooter when your opponent is already in the bonus is just not the most intelligent of plays.

5:01: Following a Paul layup, BSC plays Hack-An-Adrian-Gross, a 6-6 forward who missed two freebies badly earlier. Ellis doesn't like it, but Gross doesn't care what Ellis likes and kindly misses both, leading to a second Paul basket. 59-53. Double-Hmmm.

2:56: Nevermind. It ain't happening. Terrific defense by BSC forces Leasure to take a wild 3 with 3 seconds left on the shot clock, which Collins partially blocks. It falls right in the hands of Sonko who flicks it up and in with a second left on the shot clock. It's the sort of exceedingly fortuitous (that one's for you, Cliff) play that only occurs for winning teams. The outcome's decided.

2:39: Horton hits a runner, which is the first field goal of the entire game by any Panther besides Powe, Paul, or Collins. Six-point game again.

1:49: I refuse to get too excited after the Sonko play, but Powe finds Collins on another back-door cut (BSC's been all over those this half) to cut the lead to 63-59. Whatever happens, this is a much better late-game response than against Radford. Que bueno, Panthers.

1:24: Give Coastal credit: they just got the shot they had to have. Paelay found Sonko in the post, and despite textbook defense from Powe (I think) Sonko hit a tough little hook shot to end the spurt and really put the pressure on BSC.

:51: Sigh. After they play patient all game, BSC doesn't do playing quick too well. McMillan drives and misses after running a good 30 seconds off the clock. Foul.

:11 This time 40 seconds run off as BSC looks in vain for a good look from 3. Collins misses a couple of toughies, Harris hits one of two, and it's 67-59 and over.

:07: OK, the Coastal fans have broken out the "Overrated" chant. Let's just look past for a second the fact that the chant is fundamentally flawed to begin with (viz. If the team your team just beat is indeed overrated, then your team hasn't accomplished as much). Who, exactly, has overrated BSC? The RPI? The Big South standings? What little Big South media presence there is would have, I suspect, expected Coastal to win this game given their advantage in Kimbel and the way they've played of late. What rating has been done seems to me to have actually been pretty accurate.

Anyways, since the "overrated" chant usually commemorates a major upset on the part of the winner, I suggest BSC take it as a compliment.

Buzzer: Sonko slams home the exclamation point, the game ends 69-59, and a few fans dash onto the court in apparent celebration. Wow. I couldn't say when a win over BSC became such a huge deal, but heck, I'm glad it did.


Combined shooting from all BSC players (Viglianco, Horton, McMillan, Ruffin, Ehirim) not named "Powe," "Paul," or "Collins": 1-of-18. No one besides Collins hit a 3 (0-8). The good news? I have to believe a performance quite that bad is a fluke. I have to, because believing otherwise is pretty depressing.

The bad news is that Collins sure as heck isn't going to score 27 points and shoot 10-of-15 every game. Hopefully the guys above will do a little more regressing to the mean than Collins--a reasonable expectation given how on fire Collins has been for the last two weeks, but he simply can't be expected to carry the team like this again.

Speaking of which, it's time to get Powe more shots. I've held off of calling for more from Powe despite his superduper FG percentage because a) he's racked up the assists b) everyone else has been shooting pretty well, too. But in a game like Saturday's, where everyone besides himself, Paul, and Collins is firing blanks, he needs to take more than three shots. After all, he hit all three of them.

Three-point defense is officially an issue for BSC. I touched on it in my Hoopville piece, and now Radford, High Point, and Coastal (who finished 11-of-24 and shot 8-of-13 in the second half) have all had excellent games from deep vs. the Panthers. Somehow I suspect Messrs. Martin and Bradshaw have noticed.

The biggest positives for Coastal? First, that Paelay is once again every bit the threat he was last season: 5-of-10 FG, 5-6 FT, 17 points, 5 assists, 0 TO's (!). Also, that Harris have can a fairly invisible game (0 FGs, 3 points, 4 boards) against a good team and CCU can still come out on top with relative (I do mean relative) ease.

How much does the result mean to these teams? If BSC wins out against the Othern Southern and Winthrop (and the Eagles don't suffer a shocker), not a damn thing. BSC would still take the league title. But if the Panthers slip up in Charleston or Winthrop comes out of Birmingham with a W, BSC falls to the third seed and CCU moves up to second. Given that the second seed will very likely host Charleston while the third seed gets High Point or UNCA, it's a pretty big whopping difference.

Myrtle Beach column response here, write-up here.

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