Today has been a lazy, post Christmas day. PJ and I took down the trees and have generally been super slothy. We slept in and have spent all afternoon and evening napping and watching basketball. What a life!
I am currently flipping between the Butler/Vandy game (I’m pretty sure that the Bulldogs have this one in the bag) and the battle of the Huskies. UConn just defeated Washington 61-53. Today has been an all around good day for Coach Ollie. He just inked a 5 year extension to his initial 7 month head coach contract. Not bad!
At Stanford, the #2 UConn women handed #1 Stanford a painful loss. I watched #3 Baylor spank Tennessee the other day. I was sure that the Lady Bears were the best women playing the game, but watching UConn I can’t be so sure. The state of women’s ball is HEALTHY!
The ACC was busy at home on Tobacco Road today. As we were taking down the tree, there was a moment of hope that Santa Clara would knock dook down a notch, but damn Plumlee, Kelley, and Curry. They are all hard to watch. NC State had a strong showing against Western Michigan. I am excited to see this team live on Monday versus UNCG. They are playing better and better with the leadership of the likes of Leslie and Wood.
At the Dean Dome, UNC hosted the UNLV Running Rebels. Last year when they met, in Las Vegas, #1 UNC lost. While many in the light blue uniforms did not play in that game last November, this was a revenge game. UNC really needed this win. They scored first and held the upper hand for most of the game. McAdoo was really quiet in the first half. That was ok because we got to see the work of some of UNC’s first year players. I am so excited for the potential and flashes of brilliance that I see in JP Tokoto, Brice Johnson, and Joel James. Particularly the team work of Johnson and James is fun to watch and will be a powerhouse in the next few years! This was all without the play of Reggie Bullock, who did not dress out due to a mild concussion.
Today was PJ Hairston’s first career start and he stepped up to the leadership role that entails with a solid 15 points. Dexter Strickland added 16 points. The Tarheels were able to capitalize off of turnovers and kept UNLV first year player Anthony Bennett, the NCAA leading freshman scorer, to only 15 points. Bennett did manage a double double with 13 rebounds. McAdoo woke up in the second half and was only one rebound short of his own double double. Watching this game, it seemed (maybe for the first time in a while) that the Heels were having fun. That is the point of basketball- after all- Well having fun and beating Duke- is the point of basketball. I think this win is a strong one and a win the Heels need to build on as conference play is about to start.
This time of the year is always so much fun and so much work. As a graduate student and adjunct instructor, I am busy with final projects, grades and the like. As a basketball enthusiast, great bball is just heating up. Teams are coasting towards conference starters, but everyone still has dreams of playing come March. (Also, as a plain old person, I have had the crud…there were a few days there where I just wanted to lay in bed and wish that my ribs did not hurt every time I coughed. That is why there have not been any recent posts. I watched the games, but could not string together enough words for a sensible blog post).
Carolina has been rough to watch (they are young, this is a rebuilding year). In the game that they barely squeaked out from ECU, they were playing like March didn’t even matter. Watching them versus Texas, well I couldn’t even watch the second half of that game, they were playing like they really didn’t care. Carolina often dawdles in the first half and turns on the rockets in the second, but in that Texas game it was bad. I was itching for Roy to call a time out and put some heads on straight at the end of the first, of course he didn’t…and I just couldn’t sit through the other 20 minutes. There is so much talent on the team. James Michael McAdoo is carrying a lot in his shoulders right now, but I am excited for the youth, like JP Tokoto- I see flashes of brillance there!
As Carolina had me stewing over subpar basketball, I did have a pause to think about how much good ball North Carolina has to be thankful for from the UNC program. Not just from October to March, but the coaching legacy here stretches from coast to mountains. Yesterday, Wes Miller’s Spartans travelled (and lost) to Buzz Peterson’s UNCW Seahawks (my undergrad alma mater, GO SEAHAWKS!). We watched Jeff Lebo’s Pirates give the Heels a run for their money in Chapel Hill, only losing by 6. And App State is lead by Jason Capel. Of course, what is trending in Mountaineer basketball news right now is quite possibly the worst free throw ever from December 8, 2012: Let’s only hope UNCG can win against free throws like that! Speaking of Spartan winning, they have got the drive and the talent, but keep falling short at crunch time. The loss at UNCW was hard, but in Saturday we have the WF Demon Deacons. They have been having a substellar couple of years. The last time we saw the Deacs in person was when UNCW travelled to the Greensboro coliseum to play. UNCW jumped out to an early lead and WF never caught them. We had fantastic seats next to some pompous WF fans, who quickly quieted down when the game began. I hold the same hope for my Spartans. They have already fallen to one ACC team this year, but a W against WF would be a great morale boost!
And Butler beat Indiana I picked Butler as a team to watch in the preseason. I’m not so glad that they won in Maui, but watching them knock off #1 Indiana was so much fun!
The Spartans opened conference play with an 84-54 win against the Citadel Bulldogs. Is is hard to watch a team in light blue loose, but tonight was an enjoyable win for UNCG. The game started slow with only a 6-5 score at the 15 minute mark of the first half. Then, the Spartans kicked it into overdrive (well Armstrong is always in overdrive) and widened the margin to around a 20 point difference for the rest of the game. Wes Miller was animated from the bench and I’m not sure if the players are yet playing at the level he wants. The team I saw tonight was tighter, and smoother, but not quite there. At the beginning of the game, communication was an issue. There were some passing plays that just plain fell through from lack of player communication. I know when it works a pass while looking the other way is an effective strategy but when it fails to connect, as a fan, I see more time on the practice court. They are driving for post-season play, so let’s go Spartans!
The stats for this game were outstanding! The Spartans were 52% for their threes and 58.9% from the field. That field goal shooting percentage is the best UNCG has had since 2009! Free throw shooting was good all around with the Citadel at 71% (15-21) and the Spartans at an AMAZING 87.5% (7-8). These are numbers that make a woman swoon! This is also a completely different game than the 80ish FT shots that were attempted Wednesday at the UNCG/ NC A&T game. The players spent more time running the court and less time on the line. UNCG’s bench contributed 39 points, which is great. If we can cultivate our depth, it will serve us well to keep us playing in March.
#1 Drew Parker had a career high 15 point game today. #15 Trevis Simpson was the 19th Spartan (and third fastest overall player) to score 1,000 career points with a free throw in the second half. The play of the game happend in the last minute or so, when Wes put in some fresh players. #20 Jordan Potts got the ball to #25 Thomas Sumpter for a beautiful drive to the basket. The game was already well in our favor, but it was a wonderfully executed play!
In other wonderful CBT news, Kentucky lost to the Baylor Bears. It is ALWAYS a good day when a team in dark blue walks off the court with their head hung low.