BASKETBALL SEASON HAS BEGUN-
I did go to two exhibition games last week (UNCG- good hustle and strong team play dynamics and UNC- sloppy, still waiting for McAdoo to take on leadership mantle), but it was last night when the season really started. And not a moment too soon because I love basketball! Contrary to the Christmas song, this is the most wonderful time of the year. Teams are fresh, possibilities are open, we are waiting for the powerhouses to dominate and the underdogs to rise from nowhere. Everyone is chasing the big dance and they just might get there!
UNCG’s home opener against the Panthers of High Point was a hard fought battle, but overall UNCG made a strong statement that they are here to play this season. Kayel Locke has returned stronger under the basket and his new partnership with the former Sun Devil Kyle Cain is going to be a joy to watch. Each of these big men got 21 points last night and an we are witnessing an evolving alliance that is sure to make Spartan ball fun to watch this season. Tyrone Outlaw, oh my gosh what a fun name to cheer for, added 14 points. While this is his first year and there are some weaknesses that need to be refined he is a smart ball player with a foul shout that has a near perfect arc, making 7-8 attempts at the line last night! Tevon Saddler is another to watch. He added 10 points last night, though a disappointing 4-10 from the free throw line. I hope he did some practice shots this morning- at the Division I college level, 40% is a thing of shame. I am encouraged, however, to see how he grows. He favors a drive that is somewhat messy at the moment but has real potential and I think his basketball decision making skills are there. My hope is he develops into a smart player and not a ball hog!
There was increased energy from the bench last night. I could tell that Wes Miller and his staff were testing out some player combinations and substituting liberally throughout the game. The energy from the bench was brought on to the court in ways that will only make Spartan basketball better. The bench contributed 19 points, so no small feat!
HPU was 19-27 from the line for 70% free throws. One glaring place they could not capitalize on was three point shots in the second half only connecting 1-14.
UNCG made 25-40 free throws for 62.5%. That needs to be better. Games are won and lost on the charity stripe!
Other games I watched last night:
UNC ran over Oakland 84-61. McAdoo is fun to watch with 21 points and 9 rebounds for the night. He is a player that is trying to decide if he is going to be great. The new NCAA block charge rule, designed to favor offensive play, was most beneficial for JP Tokoto as he racked up points last night. I did not see most of the first half of this game, but as they came back to the second I feel the Heels were playing a rushed game. They are young, but they are good- no need to rush. They need to incorporate the new players into the game and find a way to settle into Carolina Basketball.
Oakland had a good night and this is the beginning of a month that has them playing one of the hardest road schedules going. Before they return to their home court the play:
UCLA, California, Gonzaga, Louisiana, Coastal Carolina (I know this seems odd), and W. Michigan. These boys will be tired, but they will have good game experience!
Oregon outran Georgetown Hoyas in South Korea 82-75. The Duck’s quickness in the backcourt along with the combined 23-23 (100%) free throw shooting of Jason Calliste and Joseph Young was the highlight of this military themed game.
Colorado fell to Baylor 72-60. This was the first time that CU had ever opened their season against a ranked opponent (Baylor #25). The play started out fast and well matched, but they were outplayed in the end.