Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Day Spent Watching ESPN360 (and ESPN2)

It was a Saturday where I didn't have any Hofstra home games to attend. No specific plans. Just watch the kids..and ESPN! Well let's review the day

11:00 am - noon
- Watched the replay of the first half of the St Mary's vs. San Diego game played on Thursday night, which the Gaels won 65-42. The Gaels are playing so much better than when I first saw them earlier in the year in the 76 Classic. Much better defense and better ball movement. San Diego did miss some open shots, but it was more of the St Mary's D. The game was over at the half (St Mary's led at halftime 32-14). Patty Mills had a great first half but Omar Samhan is so solid, especially now on the defensive end. He held San Diego's solid forward Gyno Pomare to 6 points on 3 of 13 from the field. Pomare came into the game shooting 53 percent and averaging 14 points. Samhan shot 8 of 9 from the field, had 16 points, 11 rebounds and 3 blocks. Samhan now is shooting 57.7 percent from the field and now has eight double doubles on the season.

Noon - 2:00 pm
- Watched Siena show that they are clearly the elite team in the MAAC after disposing of second place Niagara 82-65. The Saints clearly have their offense on all cylinders now as opposed to early in the season in the Old Spice Classic. It was all about balance for the Saints as four players scored in double figures. Ryan Rossiter, who's brother plays for Davidson, had 18 points, 12 rebounds and 5 blocks for the Saints. Edwin Ubliles led the Saints with 20 points, Alex Franklin had 15 and Kenny Hasbrouck had 13 points.

The announcers during the game talked about how Hasbrouck has had a disappointing season and that's true. Hasbrouck is down about 3.5 points per game in scoring and his field goal percentage is down from 44 percent last year to 38.8 percent this year. I think early on in the season, Hasbrouck tried to do too much. In three games in the Old Spice Classic, Hasbrouck shot 12 of 34 and the Saints lost all three games. However, the Saints have won 10 of their last 11, due in large part to others having picked up the slack. Rossiter is shooting 58.7 percent from the field. Ubiles is shooting 50.8 percent from the field and in his last five games is shooting 36 of 62 (58 percent). Alex Franklin is shooting 54 percent from the field. As a whole, Siena shoots 47 percent from the field to lead the MAAC and leads in assists and assists to turnover ratio. The Saints have a three game lead in the MAAC.

2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
- Wisconsin Milwaukee vs. Butler. Everytime I think Butler can't impress me more, the Bulldogs go out and top themselves. This week they came back from a halftime deficit to defeat Wisconsin Green Bay. Then yesterday, the Bulldogs came out and made sure the Panthers never had a chance to make it a game. The Bulldogs roared out to a 23-8 lead in route to a 78-48 drubbing of the Panthers. The Panthers made only one of their first ten shots and shot 24 percent from the field and 3 of 20 from beyond the arc. Wisconsin Milwaukee came into the game as the second highest scoring team in the Horizon.

A few other things to note. What amazes me about Butler is that they are so balanced. Yesterday Matt Howard and Gordon Hayward, two of their three leading scorers only had 14 points and 9 field goal attempts combined. It was their bench led by Shawn Vanzant (20 points) and Grant Leiendecker (12 points) showed the depth of Butler. Ten Bulldog players averaged 17 minutes or more. Remember, no seniors on this team. And also, I just love watching "Big Lumber" James Eayrs play. He is six foot seven (that might be generous) and 340 pounds (that is generous). But he has skills and is very tough to guard in the post. Just watching Matt Howard, no slouch at 220 pounds just literally bounce off him as Eayrs backed into him on the offensive end was a humorous sight to see.

4:00 pm to 6:00 pm - George Mason vs. VCU - The mid major game of the day. Give ESPN credit for putting this game on ESPN2. It was a very entertaining game, and it was a game of runs. First the Rams shot out to a 10-3 lead as their big men, Larry Sanders and Kirill Pishchalnikov scored all of those points. The Patriots though came back with a 18-4 run to go up 21-14 as my favorite CAA freshman, Ryan Pearson had six of those eighteen points. Then the Rams went on a 15-5 run as Eric Maynor starting getting hot and put the Rams up 29-26. Maynor would score all twelve of his first half points in the last 6:54 of the first half as the Rams led 39-32 at the half.

Then the Rams went on another run, 16-8, to go up 55-40 with 15:23 left. The Rams allowed the Patriots to hang around as the lead was chipped to ten, 65-55 with 8:02 left. Then the Patriots made one last run, going on a 9-0 spurt to cut the lead to 65-64 with 4:28 left. Then Eric Maynor put the Rams on his back again scoring eight of the Rams final eleven points as VCU held on for the 76-71 win.

Maynor showed a national audience why he is one of the best guards in the country. Maynor who is in the top twelve in scoring and assists in the country had 28 points on 9 of 16 from the field and added 6 assists. Maynor can do it all, drive to the basket, hit the floater in the lane, or bury the three (3 of 6 from beyond the arc). What's different from beginning of the season and certainly from last year's Rams team is that there is now an inside scoring presence in Larry Sanders. Sanders had 15 points on 5 of 9 shooting and 5 from 5 from the line. Sanders has scored in double figures in nine of the last 10 Rams' games. The Rams record in those nine games (8-1 only a loss at #5 Oklahoma 81-74. The only game he didn't score in double figures was a 81-79 loss to Delaware).

As for the Patriots, they played a spirited game and never quit. To do this at the always loud Alltel Center on the VCU campus, despite not having leading scorer Jon Vaughn due to a concussion vs. Northeastern, is pretty impressive. A lot of young George Mason players stepped up. Sophomore guard Cam Long had 20 points on 7 of 10 from the field and 8 of 9 from the line. The aforementioned Pearson had 12 points and 7 rebounds. Mason outrebounded a taller VCU 34-23 but the turnover margin 13-7 due in large part to the vaunted VCU press resulted in a number of VCU baskets. Also, Bucky Waters correctly stated that Mason was not getting the ball to Darryl Monroe enough during the game. Monroe, who shoots 58 percent from the field only had eight field goal attempts. The Patriots need to work the ball more into Monroe, who would lead the CAA in field goal percentage if he had enough attempts.

All in all it was a fun day to stay home, watch the kids and watch some good mid major basketball.

Next post will be the CAA at the midway point.

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