UNCG-Bluefield State

Tonight, the UNCG men’s basketball season opened with an exhibition game against Bluefield State in Fleming gym.  We had near capacity attendance with 1842 and, for me, this was the cherry on top of a beautiful homecoming day spent on campus.  I love to watch the Spartans play in Fleming.  I know all the reasons for playing in the Greensboro Coliseum,  but watching a game on campus just has a special zing to it!

UNCG handily beat Bluefield 102-74, but this was a FAST-paced game.  Well, the players tried their best to make it a fast game, but the refs were particularly picky tonight.  They were calling minor infractions and not letting the athletes find a real groove.  It took over an hour to play the initial 20 minutes of the game! In the first half, Bluefield went into double bonus and in the 2nd both teams did.  It made for a very choppy game to cheer for, however, there were some things to cheer the Spartans for!

The start of the game showed some first of the season nerves, players are still getting each other, and their teamwork, perfected, but at about the 14 minute mark of the first half the Spartans really gelled.   Bluefield scored first and they kept trading the lead back and forth.  Watching the players settle into their spots and run plays I can tell they have worked on in practice really began after about six minutes of play (though they need to find that sweet spot sooner when playing teams like VT).  Beginning of the season kinks haven’t all been ironed out yet.  There were times that fans could see the Spartan’s communication break down and they would loose their man (who would then sink a three, Williams). But it was fun ball to watch!  Some of the guys have been practicing fancy shots (to show up on Sports Center, maybe) and when they work (Williams had a nice one!) they are great.  But there were some that failed and in those moments, I wish they players would concentrate on solid ball playing instead of going for the over the head pass to the guy behind them.  I would take solid play to flashy play any day …but I am just a fan and looove to gush over the dunks as well.  I want it all from my Spartans!

The stats for this game don’t really tell the whole story.  Bluefield was 32% field goals, 29% from the three, and 69% from the line.  Their assist to turnover ratio was a paltry 7:22 and they got called for TWO intentional fouls- one on Simpson and one on White.  Both Spartans went head first into the goal stand/ dance team and that is never a fun sight to witness. I don’t want any broken necks in the name of basketball.

The Spartans field goal percentage was 51, they were 37% for threes, and 70% from the line.  No super stellar numbers there and we have room to improve!  I am really surprised at the final FT stat because for a while in the first half we struggled to get to 50%.  Free throws are a skill and when you practice a skill you get better. At this point in all of these athletes’ careers anything less than 75% (and that is for Derrick) is not up to par.  Games are won and lost on the free throw line and you need to practice.  If your number is not up to snuff, practice earlier.  Case in point for this game is David Williams. Yes, I am picking on him a bit in this post, but he started and needs to be a leader for the team.  He went 0-3 in FT this game.  Nope, you need to do better.

Darrell Armstrong (A fun player to watch and there is no one that works harder on the court than #3) was the FT standout for this game going 6-6!  Way to go Darrell and keep up the good work! We have class in the same building on Thursday and if I see him I’m going to congratulate him.  That is a great stat!

The last six minutes of the game, Bluefield had no real chance of coming back and Coach Miller put in some of the first year players and some guys that get less time.  It was nice to see what we have on the bench and I am impressed.  RJ White is one I am watching.  He’s a big man who in his first minutes on the court soundly rejected a Bluefield shot.  FUN!  These guys are still feeling each other, and I am sure Miller’s leadership, out, but they are close and watching the whole team grow this season is an exciting prospect.

Good job, Spartans!  (Now, we need to get one of those deals that if we score 100 points we get free biscuits)  🙂