Loss in SoCon Tourney

This is has been a great year in UNCG basketball with a record breaking 25 wins.  Tonight’s 79-74 loss to ETSU was heartbreaking.

UNCG swept ETSU during season play and there is no love lost between these two teams.  Technical fouls and scuffles during the handshakes have been part of their meetings on the court this year.

The Spartans had the energy in the first half of this game and it disappeared at halftime and never returned.  Like so many games, however, this one was lost on the free throw line.  Those points are crucial and can swing a game as close as this.

Nonetheless, it was a great year to watch the Spartans!  In sports, like in life, you gotta shake it off and look forward to the next challenge.  And UNCG’s next challenge is a good one…NIT here comes the G!

32 years ago today

32 years ago today this piece of American history took place. While my child would have never played for Coach Knight, and chair throwing is blatantly wrong (for which he owned up) there are 2 things that I about Bobby Knight- 1) In the time after his coaching retirement, he was the BEST basketball analyst 2) I deeply resonate with the quote about Coach Knight “If there are two things that Bobby Knight hates it is stupidity and a weak defense.”

NCSU had a rough day

Every time NCSU and UNC play the Wes Miller Bobblehead goes up for grabs in Greensboro.  He’s been with us for a while and there was never any danger of him making the trek to Derrick’s place today.

The Tarheels dominated a discombobulated looking Wolfpack.  I tuned in when the Heels were up 26-4 and that about says it all.  The final score was 107-56.

This 51 point margin marks the largest spread ever against an ACC team (previously it was 48 points over FSU in January of 1998).  This is the most points the Heels have ever scored against State and the 4th time UNC has scored more than 100 against the Pack.

Wes stays with us until the next UNC-NCSU match up.

Snowy Game vs. Western Carolina (or UNCG has a Jordan playing)

Yesterday UNCG hosted WCU for a snowy afternoon game.  The house was pretty empty but the ball was fun to watch.  While WCU tied it up twice, UNCG never trailed.  UNCG won 76-57.

The Spartans opened the second half with 31-8 run.  Francis Alonso, Diante Baldwin, and Malik Massey had solid play, but the stand out of the game was James Dickey.  He was strong under the basket rebounding and passing and a couple of put backs that got the crowd roaring.  He was 6-6 FG, but reallllly needs to work on the Free Throw shooting as he was 1-4 on the night.  In close games, those are the points that will make all the difference!

Overall, the Spartans has a great night in fast break points (17) and points off the bench (29).  Of course, points off the bench does go up when you put in your bench at about the 4 minute mark. (A great coaching decision by Wes Miller)  One Spartan that got his first bit of playing time at the Greensboro coliseum was Justin Jordan (yes, of that Jordan family).  He took the floor and got a quick three.  He only played a few minutes, but I look forward to seeing his play develop.

UNCG is back in action at ETSU on January 12.

So close

UNCG and Wake Forest tied 75-75 with 18 seconds to go. 

Wake wins 78-75. If the Spartans would have hit a few key free throws they’d have brought down their first ACC opponent at home. 

Preparing for Rio

I defend my dissertation in just a few weeks, so I am dipping my toe back into basketball blogging just in time for the Rio Olympics this summer!  I become a fan of so many sports during the Olympics- track and field, gymnastics, swimming, rowing (though I do follow the Warwick Rowers on Instagram because they are outspoken about LGBT inclusion in sport), volleyball (beach and indoor), wrestling (I managed my high school team and have a soft spot for the grapplers), and diving.  There is so much that divides us, but sports can be that thing that brings us together (like getting UNC fans to root on Coach K).

Team USA has released the Women’s roster and it is hard not to be excited to watch these athletes play!  There is so much talent collected on this team.  It is hard to see how Geno Auriemma could have put together a better squad.  #squadgoals

Of course, the best part about sports is that we all have ideas and can dialogue back and forth about the details.  Is the team UConn heavy? Yes, but those are the best players in the game right now.  Geno is good at his job and has built a powerhouse.  He is not killing the game and by the look of his work with in Team USA basketball he is cultivating coaches to rival him during the season.  There are blog posts to be had around UConn, women’s sports, and the game of basketball, but if you don’t bemoan the 44 point rout of the Sooners by the Villanova Wildcats in this final four in the same way that you want to blast the Huskies then we need to explore why.  Is it because their dominance is hurting the game?  Based on history, that just doesn’t hold up. John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins won 10 titles in 12 seasons from 1964-1975, seven consecutively (1967-1973), and the game seems to be doing just fine.  But back to the task at hand…

Tamika Catchings is a perpetual face on the roster.  She graduated Tennessee in 2001 (the same year I finished undergrad) and is playing some great ball!  36 looks good y’all!

I am thrilled to see how Geno will make use of the talents of Maya Moore, Brittney Griner, Elena Delle Donne, and Breanna Stewart.  I loved watching these women play separately and together there may be some sort of superpower they can link together and unveil on the court- I imagine it is kind of like the Thundercats call!

To cull the team to 12 players, there will always be great talent left at home.  That said, there are two players I am missing.  I don’t know who’s place they could take and trust that the right decisions were made for Team USA basketball, but Candace Parker and Shoni Shimmel would be great additions to the field.  Parker will be part of the training camp and I’m not sure why Shimmel’s not here, but they deserve a mention.

The Olympics are coming up fast and I’m ready for all the basketball action!

If you make your Free Throws you can be a giant killer, if not…

I had to break my Ph.D. hiatus (I am not writing about basketball until this Ph.D. is done, but it is SO hard- Google Chinanu Onuaku’s free throw).

However, last night’s Oklahoma- Kansas game illustrates my “make your freaking fouls shots” philosophy so perfectly, I had to make an exception.

This was going to be a fun game to watch- #1 playing #2, in the same conference, in January- there is so much on the line and these athletes played their hearts out.

It was a fast-paced, all-out race to the finish from the technical foul assessed to the KU bench 4 seconds into the game or that almost technical in the 1st OT for having 6 players on the court.  It is the kind of ball I like to watch.

But after 3 OT Kansas proved they deserved the #1 spot in the land (AP poll had them at #1, but the coaches poll gave Oklahoma the #1 nod).

If Oklahoma had just made their free throws at the end of regulation, when the game was tied, there would have been no OT and they could have been giant killers.

But alas, it is free throw shots that win, and squander, games and KU nudged past Oklahoma at the line.  Kansas made 78% (18/23)of their free throws to the Sooners 75% (18/24), but that is not the whole story.  If Oklahoma would have won in regulation they would have kept the Jayhawks off the line 17 times as KU only had 6 free throw opportunities in the first 40 minutes.  Oklahoma made 16/22 in regulation, but that leaves 6 points on the line.  A comfortable margin to have knocked off a #1.