Snowy Game vs. Western Carolina (or UNCG has a Jordan playing)

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.

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Lovely week all around

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!


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.”


Tar Heels visit the Spartans

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.


Turnovers, rebounds, and foul shots, oh my!

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!


60 Fouls

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!

tip off


40:15

I have been watching a lot of college ball this year, but have fallen lax in writing about it.  It has been a tough season.  UNCG has been hot and cold and last week all the Tobacco Road teams lost.  (I do not like Syracuse, Pitt, and Notre Dame in the ACC.  I do not like Syracuse, Pitt, and Notre Dame in the ACC.  I do not like Syracuse, Pitt, and Notre Dame in the ACC- If I say it three times will it go away…)

Tonight was a home conference game for the Spartans, going up against the Bulldogs of the Citadel.  The game started with the Bulldogs getting in two quick three pointers and a good solid lead, as much as 14 points, that UNCG had to dig its way out of.  It was a rough game.  The athletes were playing hard, the refs were making questionable calls, and by our bench, Wes Miller was losing his cool.

The crowd erupted, however, when the Spartans tied it at 59 to take us into overtime.  There were times when this game looked out of reach, but they kicked it into high gear in the last few minutes of regulation.  The Spartans FINALLY took the lead, for the first time, 40 minutes and 15 seconds into the game and held on tight for the last 4:45 to win 69-65.  It was a hard fought win and one I think they need to take them into the game versus Davidson on Saturday.  Davidson got pretty beat up at the beginning of the season.  They are playing up, I think, getting ready to move to the A-10, but the UNCG-Davidson game is always a tense one.  There is a lot of history on the line and going in with the W on their heels is nothing but good for the G.

Stats for this game were not stellar for either team.  The Bulldogs managed 42% FG, 36% from beyond the arc, and a woeful 50% from the line.  UNCG wasn’t much different with 36% FG, 29% three pointers, and 62% from the line.  Our bench did contribute 10 points and we got 14 point from turnovers.  Tonight our defense and rebounding kept us in the game, but there is room for improvement in shot selection and follow through on plays.  This is a good team, the potential is tremendous, just a few more tweaks and they will be there!