Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Well there's that other shoe! (Big South Monday)


How surprised was I by this? On a scale of 1 to 10, where “1” is equal to listening to Scott Stapp’s solo album and finding it does indeed bite harder than the Jaws of Life, and “10” ” is equal to listening to Scott Stapp’s solo album and finding it’s the second coming of The Joshua Tree, this is, oh, a 3.

BSC’s a terrific team and they could still very well finish on top of the league, but no rational Panther fan was expecting them to head into that second Winthrop game still sitting on one loss. I was hoping they wouldn’t get around to picking up that loss until the Coastal game, or maybe just merrily dynamite all my low expectations one game at a time (which is basically all they’ve done since the Rock Hill Massacre™), but when Whit Holcomb-Faye’s hitting H-O-R-S-E shots from the fourth row, there’s only so much you can do.

Although, yes, BSC technically could have done more than they did. Ed Horton had more fouls (5) than points (3), rebounds (0), and made field goals (1) combined. Chris Oliver’s going to snag a few offensive rebounds, but it seems like allowing the rest of the Highlanders to claim 9 could have been avoided. Zero assists for Collins, Viglianco, or Paul in 90 combined minutes doesn’t seem right, and neither does only 9 total assists on 22 made baskets. And lastly, as red-hot as Holcomb-Faye was and as due as Radford was for a sharp game--no Big South team with WHF and Oliver is going to experience many four-game losing streaks--allowing 47.4 percent shooting from outside will hopefully be a one-time thing.

But that’s more than enough complaining. Despite the lack of assists, BSC was perfectly acceptabl on the offensive end: their 108.5 offensive efficiency rating is actually an improvement on their season average. They hit 16-of-21 at the free throw line, well above their average. They turned the ball over only 8 times, shot better than 42 percent overall, and had five players in double-figures. No griping there.

Bottom line: BSC just picked the wrong night against the wrong team to have an off-night on the defensive end. The Panthers still control their own destiny. They’re still tied for first. They’re still the same team that just rattled off nine straight. When the “Trend” light on the dashboard starts blinking, then I’ll worry.

Other notes: I couldn’t get the BSC radio link to work at work, so I had to go with the Radford guys, who made repeated mention of the fact that Holcomb-Faye has been hobbled by an injured ankle recently. I’m sure he has been. But, and far be it from me from to question a man whose name is also his own URL, why then did he sit for a total of two minutes during Radford’s previous three games? Why was he subbed back in against BSC with 4:53 to play and the Highlanders up 16? (He finished with 36 more minutes.) Probably not what his physical therapist recommended.

Reboul on WHF: “We couldn't stop him. He put them on his back and said, 'I'll carry you.'” I can’t explain quite why I laugh out loud every time I read that, but the quote itself is its own explanation for why I’d vote Coach Reboul over Charles Barkley for governor every time.

I’ve been pointing out how Radford hadn’t been making a team effort to rebound the ball, so I guess I’m contractually obligated to point this out: 7 boards for McIntyre, 5 for Ross, 5 for WHF. If I wasn’t lazy I’d work up what Radford’s record is this season when the rest of the starters out-rebound Oliver and when they don’t, ‘cause I bet it’s like 12-2 when they do. Too bad about that laziness thing.


As a BSC fan, let me be the first to say Oh…oh, crap.

Leasure shoots 7-of-11 from 3 and dishes 8 assists to 2 turnovers while scoring 23. Moses Sonko shoots 7-of-12. Colin Stevens goes 4-of-5 while racking up 7 assists. And most frighteningly of all, turns out Joseph Harris is nothing less than a full-fledged beastly beast. Check, check it: 7-of-9 for 14 points, 16 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks, 1 turnover. God save us all.

(Seriously, at this point Harris is the runaway choice for Big South Freshman of the Year. The game before he entered the CCU starting lineup, the Fakecocks lost to VMI by 11. Consider the following game, on the road against High Point, the Joseph Harris test run. Since then, Coastal is 6-2 with the only losses on the road at BSC and at home by one in OT to MacRadford. Ian Guerin dons his Captain Obvious cape to point out “Some of the progression can be credited to Harris, who became a regular starter during the first game against High Point. In the ensuing nine games, he's had an average of eight rebounds per game.” Gee, I don’t know, some of the progression, you sure? Seeing as how before his arrival Leasure and Paelay were the team’s leading rebounders? I’m not sure I’m convinced.)

Now, some of those eye-popping numbers can be attributed to playing a High Point defense that was on the second leg of a Carolina trip on which it had already made the Othern Southern look like the second coming of the Showtime Lakers. (Given the opponent, I think the performance vs. Coastal was actually better, and if Akeem Scott can keep giving them 19-point-5-board games they’ll continue to compete for that pivotal four seed.) But a good portion of it is also talented guys like Leasure and Sonko finally just waking up and getting their gamey-game on.


Congrats to UNCA on a big, tough road win--like pimping, going into overtime on an opponent's last-gasp three after losing a 16-point second-half lead and still pulling out the win in a hostile gym ain’t easy--but the story of this game is Larry Blair. The heart and soul of the Flyin’ Falwells went 11-of-21 from the field and 7-of-7 from the line for 33 points, including the clutch shot that sent the game into OT, along with 4 boards, 2 assists, and a steal. Perhaps most impressively, Blair played 40 minutes without committing a single turnover. I don’t know how much Player of the Year love Blair will get as the best player on a 5-17 team, but at least a few construction-paper hearts with his name on them should be cut out come Big South awards season.

What must be especially frustrating to Blair (and LU fans) is that with even a modicum more consistency from the Belmonts/Pips/Heartbeakers/Vandellas/Monsters (pick your favorite) the Flames could be right in the mid-league pack. This game, it was Damien Hubbard (8-14, 21 points) playing sidekick, and the game before that it was Evan Risher, and the game before that Anthony Smith. If even two of those guys both took it up a notch at the same time, who knows?

As for UNCA, can’t argue with five different Bulldogs (including Joey Harrell, who also grabbed 11 boards for the dub-dub) finishing in double figures. You can argue with shooting 2-of-9 from the foul line in the second half as a way of protecting one’s lead. As required by the Laws of Basketball Irony, this was 38 points lower (50 to 22) than their 3-point percentage.

Quote of the year candidate from Randy Dunton, on the Flames’ failure to rebound a missed free throw that would have given them a chance to tie at the end of OT: “Life is a do-it-yourself project and we Jack Kevorkian-ed ourselves tonight. It was assisted suicide.”

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