Yesterday UNCG hosted WCU for a snowy afternoon game. The house was pretty empty but the ball was fun to watch. While WCU tied it up twice, UNCG never trailed. UNCG won 76-57.
The Spartans opened the second half with 31-8 run. Francis Alonso, Diante Baldwin, and Malik Massey had solid play, but the stand out of the game was James Dickey. He was strong under the basket rebounding and passing and a couple of put backs that got the crowd roaring. He was 6-6 FG, but reallllly needs to work on the Free Throw shooting as he was 1-4 on the night. In close games, those are the points that will make all the difference!
Overall, the Spartans has a great night in fast break points (17) and points off the bench (29). Of course, points off the bench does go up when you put in your bench at about the 4 minute mark. (A great coaching decision by Wes Miller) One Spartan that got his first bit of playing time at the Greensboro coliseum was Justin Jordan (yes, of that Jordan family). He took the floor and got a quick three. He only played a few minutes, but I look forward to seeing his play develop.
UNCG is back in action at ETSU on January 12.
Today UNCG scooped an 84-49 win from the Furman Paladins with a record setting 15 made three pointers in the game. This win puts UNCG in a 3 way tie in the SoCon at 5-11, with Furman holding the bottom spot at 4-12. This 35 point win is UNCG’s largest ever SoCon victory and, hopefully, puts the Spartans in the right frame of mind to finish out the season, with games at home on both Thursday and Saturday.
While I am not usually a fan of teams that live by the three because unfailingly you must also die by the three, the energy on the court today has not been present in the last few home losses. The team I watched today shared the ball and worked to be aware of each other on the court. Big Man RJ White looked like he was gunning for the 1 spot hitting 4 three point shots early in the first half. The crowd thought one was fun. When he hit two it was great and three seems like he was on a roll, but when White sunk that fourth three the crowd erupted and he gave us a smile and a dance back down the court. While we expect Nick Paulos to hit 5-6 threes, other Spartans contributing to the effort beyond the arc included Marvin Smith (2), Diante Baldwin (1), Asad Lamot (1- this was the most unselfish play of the night), Clay Byrd (1- before he twisted his ankle and was out of the game), and perhaps the most surprising was first year player Garrett Collins (1 as well as adding 2 points inside the line during his 7 minutes on the court).
In most stats, UNCG led the way. 51% of their field goals to Furman’s 37%. The night belonged to the three pointer with UNCG hitting 60% of their attempts to the Paladins 15%. From the free throw line Furman edged UNCG 60 to the Spartan’s 58%. UNCG went 7-12 from the line. Here Baldwin and White need some remediation both going 0-2. In close games these points really matter! UNCG set the pace with 12 fast break points over none for Furman and Spartans added 28 from the bench (18 of those belonging to White).
G keep up the momentum into Thursday!
While I haven’t had time to post, this has been a great week of college ball.
Louisville came to the Dean Dome and the Heart Attack Heels topped the Cards by one point (72-71) with Marcus Paige’s shot in the last seconds.
On top of that, for the last two Duke games, I had the privilege of seeing red while visiting diddukewin.com. Their first loss was at the hands of the unranked Wolfpack at the PNC Arena. It was at PNC, in March, when the Mercer Bears handed Duke their last loss. I was jumping and yelling as NC State pulled off that victory!
Last night, the Miami Hurricanes blew into Cameron and upset the Devils at home. This is Duke’s first loss at home since 2012 and Miami’s third win over ranked opponents this season!
Tonight, is the Battle for the Wes Miller Bobblehead- every time UNC meets NCSU the outcome of the game decides if our bobblehead will reside at the Colonna or the Newkirk house. Wes has come home with me for the last two Tar Heel victories and D feels with the Duke win the Pack is poised for greatness tonight. The Red-Blue game is at the same time that UNCG meets VMI at home, so it is double basketball for us tonight!
Go Heels! Go Spartans!
There have been three games since I have posted so let me catch you up:
1- The New Year’s Eve afternoon game against Mars Hill College was a blow out with the Spartans defeating the Lions 92-48. This game was played in Fleming gym and basketball is a great way to spend a holiday afternoon! Nick Paulos hit a long three at the halftime buzzer to get the crowd to their feet. This game was also where first year player, #1 Marvin Smith, got some significant playing time– 21 minutes. I’m excited to watch him mature into a great ball player.
2- On January 3, Mercer, a newcomer to the SoCon, traveled to Greensboro. They are a tough, team that plays well together, a formidable opponent for anyone. If you will remember, Duke learned that the hard way when the Bears knocked the Blue Devils out of the tournament. In honor of that moment and to congratulate the Bears for their ESPY I did what I do best- glitter up a poster
UNCG fell 55-76 after trailing for 40 minutes only tying the score once. It was hard, but the Spartans had a hard time connecting from beyond the arc (28%) and their free throw percentage was a paltry 45% (5-11).
3- Tonight, at the game by myself, the Spartans took the Bulldogs to overtime before losing by two 83-85. UNCG got off to a strong 5-0 start and the lead was bantered back and forth. There was a lot of sweat left on the court tonight! The Citadel beat us on the free throw line 85% to our 71%. They only put three of our player on the charity stripe (Locke going 10 times), but those points could have made the difference!
And just for fun:
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.”
I made two blog posts as pages, so I am combining them into one post and cleaning up the blog:
Battle of Tate Street:
While these two schools do not technically share a border, both UNCG and Greensboro College share space on Tate St. They are separated by mere feet, so yesterday’s game at the Coliseum was essentially a home game for both teams. It was an 11:30am start and kids from Guildford County were in attendance as part of the GCS Education Fair.
I was late to the game and walked in with the Spartans down 22-9, but UNCG turned on the turbo and ended the half tied at 41. This was a close game, UNCG never led by more than 7, the Pride led by 15 at one point, and they were tied 9 times. The stats for both teams show why it was such a close game: Free Throw shooting was excellent on both sides- Greensboro College an impressive 92% (12-13) and UNCG 86.4%. This is how free throws should look at all games.
Beyond that, the field goal percentage for each team was 44% for Greensboro College and 45% for the Spartans. The Pride connected on 50% from beyond the arc and UNCG made 30% of theirs.
I would be remiss not to mention the TWO fouls on three point shooters committed by the Spartans. One connected for a total of 4 points for the Pride on a single play and one missed with their shooter making all three free throws. Fouling a three point shooter is the worst play in the book and we did it twice.
What I think helped put UNCG up was help off the bench. UNCG got 21 bench points highlighted by Jordy Kuiper and Diante Baldwin. This was Baldwin’s first game of the season, as he has been dealing with an knee injury, and it is delightful to have a true point guard on the court!
NC State vs Wofford:
There is a particular shade of dark blue that I hate.
Kentucky beat UNC this weekend. It was awful and there’s not much more to be said there.
I was much more stunned by the 55-54 upset of NC State by the Wofford Terriers last night. The Terriers made their late basket and State’s got waved off leaving Wofford up by one.
I’m not sure why I’m surprised. Wofford was last season’s SoCon Champion (UNCG’s conference) and they “returned nearly its entire team from last year’s Southern Conference tournament champions, and is the preseason favorite to win the league again.” Parity is coming to men’s basketball (women’s is a whole other conversation- but “way to go” to South Carolina for being #1 over traditional powerhouses UConn, Tenn, and Stanford this week). Even though the ACC has lost to SoCon before (Va Tech, Georgia Tech come to mind- and we are not talking about when some of those teams were in the SoCon), it is still surprising, but it shouldn’t be. A team like Wofford, with a recent conference championship, returning much of it’s experience and leadership should be a force to be reckoned with. The schools that tend to attract the one and dones (ESPN top10s, height that other conferences can’t recruit, and the NBA’s own rule about being a year out of high school are all details we can discuss) can have flashes of greatness, but schools that build solid teams with leadership and experience- and we can look at mid-major conferences here like VCU’s Shaka Smart- step up to those larger courts and televised games with knowledge and support, from their coaches and each other, to win close games like this one.
Tomorrow UNCG faces UNC at the Greensboro coliseum, their own home court. Will UNC be looking for a recovery win? Will UNCG capitalize on their recent winning ways? Either way, I’ve got GREAT seats!
Over 11,000 people trekked to the Greensboro Coliseum today to watch the UNCG Spartans take on the UNC Tar Heels. While there was plenty of Blue and Gold represented, it was practically a home game for UNC since it is only about 50 miles from campus to campus.
The final score UNC 79- UNCG 56. The Tar Heels led the the whole game, but it was not a beautiful game on either side. If I had to describe this game in three words it would be sloppy, hesitant, and unfocused. Both teams had issues with throwing the ball away and poor passing. UNCG, in particular, didn’t follow through on their shots causing some easy points to be missed- not to mention the free throw misses. The 15 points that the Spartans left out of play at the line would have put them in contention for this game. However, the Spartans did find their game in the second half- scoring 39 points- and began to play with more confidence.
Numbers for the Tar Heels will not blow anyone away- 49% FG, 21% from the three, and 69% from the line. UNCG has plenty of room for improvement (hopefully before we meet Elon on Saturday)- 35% FG, 21% three points, and 42% free throw. That is where the Spartans need to practice- 42% is just not acceptable at the college level.
For the Spartans Kayel Locke led with 17 points. Nicholas Paulos contributed 12, including some late threes that brought the crowd to their feet. Diante Baldwin, who did not start the game, added a respectable 13 from the point guard position. It is nice to have a point guard back on the court and my question for Wes Miller is: why is Baldwin not starting? With the leadership he showed today he should be one of the starting five on Saturday.
The Spartans lost to triad rivals HPU 76-68 tonight. While there was effort on the floor and a few bright plays, particularly by Tevon Saddler and RJ White, this was a game lost in the hustle. UNCG committed 16 turnovers, was soundly out rebounded, and left points on the foul line. None of which win games.
I had to teach, so I was late to the game. However, we went into halftime behind by 7, the game comfortably in range. In the second half, Nicholas Paulos hit a three to top of a 10-0 run and tie the game at 45, but the Spartans didn’t rally from there.
The refs were on a foul calling rampage tonight, with both coaches demonstratively showing their displeasure at the calls. Wes, at one point, looked for something to kick (but held himself back) and later in the half threw his pen in frustration. And it was frustrating, I believe Jordy Kuiper got a foul when he was nowhere near a player and RJ White, who subsequently fouled out of the game, had a foul called on him while he was prone on the floor. I’m not sure if the refs cleaned their contacts before this game!
As is often the case, the better foul shooting team wins the game. HPU shot for 84.8% from the line tonight only leaving behind 5 points. While UNCG could not have one this game on the line, leaving 6 points on the charity stripe (60%), it would have made it much easier to be in the running in the last two minutes.
Next Wednesday we meet Greensboro College in a day game. We play at 11:30 and kids from the Guilford County Schools will be there. As long as none is paying attention- I’m gonna play hooky for the afternoon!
The UNCW Seahawks overran the Spartans at the Coliseum opener tonight.
My house is a UNCW/UNCG house divided. Both PJ and I got our undergrad degrees at UNCW. I now have a degree and am working on a second from UNCG. We went into the game tonight wearing different loyalties. PJ with the UNCW shirt and me in my UNCG Blue and Gold. PJ came out on the winning end of this divide tonight- the W beat the G 84-72.
There was plenty wrong from lack of hustle to only making 4-22 three pointers (18%- to UNCW’s 62%). Senior Nick Paulos was in a three drought. He tried to work his way out of it on the court to no avail. It took until about 2 minutes into the second half for the Spartans to wake up and drive the ball on the court. You can’t win games if you only hustle in the second half!
There were a few bright spots. Both RJ White and Tavon Saddler had great blocks. And RJ executed a great steal and lay up. When he took the ball and sprinted down the court I thought I was looking at a quick point guard vs a solid center (please see this video from my favorite point guard- Ty Lawson for comparison)
Overall, the Spartans were sluggish and looking for a foothold the entire night. There are flashes of good to keep you watching, but this teams needs to gel before they face the Heels in December. They only connected on 43% of their field goals tonight and were a paltry 60% from the free throw line. To keep it in perspective, the lost by 12 and left 13 free throw points unaccounted for. Diante Baldwin is out with a knee injury- I hope he heals quickly we could use his ball handling skills on the court!
UNCG opened the season at home in Fleming Gym against the Chowan Hawks with a 76-62 win. It wasn’t pretty, with Coach Miller saying, “I’m just glad we came out with a win.” But it’s hard to lay blame with either side- this ugly game came thanks to the refs. A total of 60 fouls were called and the players had a hard time finding a rhythm with the whistle going off so much.
Warming up, the Hawks had players with nice shots and during the game they executed clean, fast plays, but the Spartans took an early lead. Chowan tied the game twice, but could never get an upper hand. Part of that had to do with the four players that fouled out, but (true to the name of this blog) a large part was due to the lackluster showing on the free throw line- 56%. They left 14 points on the stripe. Incidentally, 14 points is what it would have taken them to push this game into overtime. Games are won and lost at the line.
UNCG is a young team, with only two seniors, and they need to find their rhythm as a unit. Granted, that is hard to do when the refs interfere with the whistle as much as they did tonight! (60 fouls!!) They started the game strong, but need to finish just as strong. That will come with time, but the team that played tonight is not ready to face the Tarheels. Not that the Heels looked exceptionally stellar in their 76-60 win over NCCU tonight.
The Spartans left the first half against the Hawks with a comfortable 44-25 lead. The first 30 seconds of the second half found Chowan scoring on a layup and a free throw and UNCG accruing two quick fouls. The fun didn’t stop there. Both sides kept getting whistled (35 fouls in the second half), but from 17:08 to 16:52- 16 seconds- UNCG got three fouls in a row- a foul every 5.3 seconds. Miller kept his cool, but there were times when arguing these whistles would have made me feel better. Every Spartan that got minutes during this game had at least two fouls: Locke- 5 (and an elbow injury); White- 4 (and concerns about both legs. He left the game limping); Saddler- 4; Byrd- 4; Dickinson- 4 (He comes to us from Loyola Marymount with Division I experience- I’d just prefer MORE points than fouls).
Overall, we were acceptable from the field (37.5% to Chowan’s 44.2%), but where we need to be in terms of free throws (77% to Chowan’s 56%). UNCG connected on 28 of 36 free throws. I know it is a new season so I will lay it out again. If you are playing college ball, 75% of free throws, minimum, should be made. This is a skill- practice it. There were 8 points left on the court. Players should be hungry for those points.
Stand out Spartans included Saddler and White. Saddler ended the night with 21 points, 5 steals, and 10 of 12 from the charity stripe (though his FT shot is still has unpolished as ever). RJ White followed with 20 points and 9 rebounds (so close to a double-double) and 5/8 FT.
Two Spartans caught my attention- senior Jamal Mitchell (#35) made 1-1 FG, 1-1 Three, and 2-2 FT. Solid numbers, but in his 12 minutes on the court he played with a calm intensity and showed good leadership and communication skills. Clay Byrd (#30), a sophomore, had his first career start today (perhaps because Baldwin didn’t play). He showed good hustle and played some smart ball, hopefully earning more playing time this season.
Basketball season has started! We face UNCW (my undergrad institution) on Tuesday at the Greensboro Coliseum. I like playing in Fleming, but I’m ready for my usual seats in Section 109!