Elon has UNCG’s number

Former SoCon rival Elon beat UNCG today 71-64.  It has been since January 2010 since the Spartans have bested the Phoenix.

Though in the first half Elon was in desperate need of a break for dribble drills, they had three (if not four, I stopped counting) turnovers on walks.  If you move with the ball, you have to be dribbling it.  Pretty simple, really.  The Phoenix also twice fouled our three point shooter- the dumbest play in basketball.  There was sloppy passing on both sides and UNCG just could not get their feet under them.

I am also confused as to why Diante Baldwin did not start.  He played 30 minutes, but did not start.  The Spartans are more focused with a point guard on the court and Baldwin is the best player for that position-why is he not starting?

As for stats, Elon lead in points in the paint, points off turnovers, and points off fast breaks.  Their bench was deep contributing 29 points to our 6.  Wes was frustrated and it showed.  He was particular animated on the sidelines and with just a few seconds left in the game a Technical Foul was assessed to the bench, but it was on Coach Miller.  He was mad and it is always nice to see passion on the sidelines!

Coming off last game’s free throw shooting, this game was marked improvement 23-30 (77%) and 10% better than Elon’s 67%.  Of course, the 7 points left on the court would have pushed us into overtime.

Our next home game is on New Year’s Eve in Fleming Gym.  Such a fun place to watch basketball.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the halftime score of the kentucky-UCLA game: 41-7.  Yes, UCLA scored 7 points in 20 minutes of basketball.  Those players in that particular shade of blue scored 24 points before the Bruins put any points on the board.  God, I hate Kentucky.  But it did lead to this sentence, so there, “This was the most lopsided first half of basketball since the Monstars jumped out to a 66-18 lead on the Tune Squad in the movie Space Jam.”

Ups and downs of college basketball

Part of what I love about college basketball is the fast pace.   The ups and downs of the court can be mirrored by emotions on a night when plenty of ball is being played.

UNCG lost a heartbreaker to the Pirates of ECU.  After starting the game with a 10-0 lead and leading for most of the game, ECU pulled up close and on a foul won the game.  UNCG was up by two in the final seconds of the game and Nick Paulos fouled a Pirate three pointer.  The basket did not connect, but all three of the foul shots did.  ECU topped the Spartans 85-84 in a tough loss for the Spartans.  Kayel Locke looked strong under the basket.  He fouled out of the game, but left it all on the floor when he did.

The player of the night, however, was Tevon Saddler.  The first year player racked up 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists.  In my last post, I wondered if he was going to grow or be a ball hog?  If this game is a suggestion, he is leaning toward growth.  His play against HPU was sloppy, but last night he had tightened up his movements and was making good shooting as well as passing decisions.  He was also a respectable 14-19 from the line (73%).  Another first year player, Tyrone Outlaw, was 5-6 from the line as well.  His foul shout has such a beautiful arc to it- he should be teaching lessons!

For the game, the Pirates shot 89% from the free throw line.  UNCG connected 74% of the time- good, but those extra points matter in a close game.  Overall, we would be good to remember that games can be won AND LOST on the foul line!

In other games from last night:

Michigan State topped Kentucky.  MSU was the only team in the top five that I wanted to win last night!  While I am always happy to report a L for DookKansas is not my favorite team either.  (My mom taught me to be suspicious of all teams that play basketball in the particular shade of blue favored by Dook/Kentucky/Kansas).  Wiggins and the Jayhawks outplayed hometown boy Parker and the Blue Devils in the second half.  But remember, the season is in its infancy, all of these teams are poised for a great year of basketball.

Does anyone else get distracted by Andrew Wiggins’ name?  I really hope that his parents were big sci fi fans because every time I hear it I think of Andrew ‘Ender’ Wiggin from Orson Scott Card’s short story and novel Ender’s Game.  As a character, Ender is chosen because he is “one the enemy would never expect.”  With all of the hype around Wiggins, there are expectations, but will he grow into a leader like Ender?

Kentucky falls in NIT first round

March Madness is starting great!

It is no secret that I have no love lost for Duke University, but beyond that my mom taught me most teams that play basketball wearing dark blue uniforms are evil.  The top of that list: Duke, Kentucky, and Kansas.  If you need some idea of how this works, I recommend To Hate Like this is to Love Forever,

I was insanely happy to open MSNBC’s sports section and read,  Top-seeded Kentucky upset by Robert Morris, out of the NIT.  Perhaps there was even a giggle when I rushed to post this on Facebook.  I was taught, in church, to love others and do good- until basketball season when I cheer like crazy for missed foul shots (that should not be missed even if I am cheering against you), find pleasure in theatrical blocked shots,  and love to see the underdog embarrass the champion.  This is the second time ever that a NCAA National Champion missed the tournament the year after they won it.  Yes, the first was Carolina in 2010 after they were 2009 National Champs.  We took a deep breath and got through it.  Kentucky will too, but  it feels great today!

Last month, Calipari said this Wildcat team was the hardest he has ever had to coach and some players were even “uncoachable.”  That is a harsh assessment from an experienced basketball coach.  There is the argument of youth from this team.  Of course, last year’s team started a freshman (Davis), two sophomores (Jones and Lamb), so does experience come with age or time on the floor (and talent)?  I think this uncoachable outburst is a reflection of the one and done mentality that Calipari seems to be recruiting to UK.  Of course you get flashed of brilliance that win you the tournament, but you also get players that know they are good and would be going for the NBA if there was not the “one year out of high school and at least 19” rule.  I think that is more a reflection of the NBA and how college often gets used as their farm teams (in another post I may explore the difference with baseball’s system).  I can’t blame the young men for seeing their Freshman Year in college as just a stumpling block….a better question might be to ask how to change the system that works better for the institutions (NBA, ESPN, conferences, and colleges) than the individual players within them.  UK has three first year player that will probably go in the NBA first round (Noel, Poythress, and Goodwin) and they have a good recruiting class lining up, but some of these ideas are work exploring because I would rather see teams grow and learn.  I would like players to stay for four years , earn a degree, and perfect mature college basketball.

That being said, Kentucky is out for the season.  One dark blue team down and more to come!