One of the perks of being a graduate student is that I can go to a 2pm home game on campus. Watching the UNCG women beat South Carolina State is a nice way to spend a fall afternoon, especially when my friend Lee Burgess joins me for the second half of the game!
The Lady Spartans jumped out to a quick 8-0 lead and led for the entire game against the Bulldogs of SC State, winning 72-63. The Spartans were giving (and receiving) hard body checks for a game filled with physical play. The on-court leaders, including Janea Stevenson and Lucy Mason, drove the plays and kept the energy high. They were helped by 20 points from the bench (compared to SCSU’s 2). When looking at the numbers: SCSU had a disheartening 9% three point game, shot only 39% from the field, and contributed on 54.5% from the line. It is hard to win games with those numbers, Bulldogs! The Spartans, while better, have some room for improvement. The offered 40% from behind the arc, 43% from the field, and 64% from the line. That free throw number, at the collegiate level, needs to be up- higher than 7/10.
Then, I was subjected to the heart stopper that was the UNC– Holy Cross game at 8pm. I have been a Tar Heel fan long enough to know that watching them play basketball is sometimes an exercise in patience. It is often easier to watch games at home where you can pace, when needed. They like to dawdle in the first half and come back in the second, but there were moments during this game that my doubts about them winning were high. These Heels are a team without a leader and they have no focus on the court. Oh, if only Kendall Marshall had stayed- nonetheless, Marcus Paige is a great guard (but I want him at the point instead of Nate Britt- let’s be honest, I want it to be 2009 and have Ty Lawson back!), he tied his career high 23 last night. This team needs a leader. If PJ Hairston was on the floor he may be the one to assume that role (the NCAA has yet to weigh in on his return) and many are hoping that James Michael McAdoo will strengthen his leadership. McAdoo is a great ball player, but I am not sure that they weight of leadership rests easily on his shoulders. This is a good team (much better if Hairston and McDonald were on the court), but they need to get it together, find focus, and play ball like a team.
Roy Williams does not get a pass on that game last night, either. I know that he wants players to play through frustrations and calls few time outs. But last night at about the 16 minute mark of the second half, the Heels had not scored and players were showing their frustrations, fraying on the edges. It would have been the perfect time for a “let’s get our heads on straight” time out. That is what they are there for, coach!
I want to give Holy Cross their due. The played a hard game last night. The stats for both teams showed close numbers in the field goal, three point and free throw percentages. I am a believer in close games to galvanize a strong team to find their potential, but a bit of me wants the Heels to flounder on December 7th….shhhh, don’t tell my mom!