I was over at my mom's house yesterday afternoon help cleaning up the house with my family when I got a call from my friend Tieff. He gave me the news that William and Mary had just defeated VCU 75-74. I was very happy, especially after calling the 6-2 Mary yesterday the best team in the CAA. When I found out how they did it, coming back from a 14 point second half deficit, I was really impressed. The Mary win using the three ( 10 of 26 yesterday) and have the CAA's best assist to turnover ratio and yesterday's 17 assists to 8 turnovers only enhances that.
Then I watched the Wake Forest 77-75 comeback win over #16 Gonzaga yesterday afternoon and was impressed with three things. One, Wake didn't quit when they were down 24-11 yesterday. Yes, the Elias Harris flagrant foul ejection helped inspire the Demon Deacons (and yes, that was a flagrant foul - he threw a forearm shiver to the throat) . But the Deacons controlled most of the second half and in fact went up fourteen at one point. Two, despite losing Harris (who as I have noted in a prior colum will be very good and will learn from this ejection), the Zags came back in the game and had a chance to tie the game at the end. The Zags will be fine. Finally, this makes the Mary look even better. Remember, the Mary won at Wake just recently.
Speaking of the West Coast Conference, I am really starting to feel that the WCC is going to be a multiple bid conference after seeing St Mary's won at Utah State 68-63. With the win, the Gaels broke the Aggies 37 game home winning streak. The Gaels won due in "large part" to 6 foot 11 Omar "Enter the Sandman" Samhan who had 22 points and 17 rebounds. Samhan was also not a player listed in Fran Fraschilla's top ten mid major players. Then again, Fran didn't list Charles Jenkins either. Fran's 0 for 2 by my count.
With Gonzaga, Portland and St Mary's playing so well, I am seriously starting to get conflicted as to where to go in March for quality conference tournament basketball; Vegas for the WCC tourney or my home base of Richmond for the CAA.
Most people would say "How can you turn down Vegas for Richmond?!" Well, the way the Mary are playing is one reason. Another reason is the way my alma mater, the Hofstra Pride (5-3), is playing. Hofstra traveled to Towson and simply dominated the now 2-4 Tigers 84-64. The main reason, the awakening of Pride Center Miklos Szabo. The "human fouling machine", as my friend Tieff calls him, was challenged this week by Coach Tom Pecora to practice well or find himself starting on the bench for this game.
Szabo, who only had 2 rebounds in a win over Fairfield on Monday, came out possessed. He shot 11 of 14 from the field and had eight rebounds including five on the offensive end. If Szabo can provide a consistent scoring force and not play "soft" on the boards (as Pecora indirectly stated this week), he will free up Charles Jenkins (21 points vs Towson including 7 of 13 from the field) to create more havoc.
And what makes Hofstra even more impressive is that their three losses came to two nationally ranked teams (Kansas and UConn) and to a Charlotte team that is turning out to be really good. I watched the 49ers absolutely dismantle #18 Louisville at Freedom Hall on ESPNU last night 87-65.
The scary thing about this 6-1 Charlotte team's win last night; leading scorer Shamani Spears, who averaged 21 points per game going into the contest, only had nine points on 3 of 10 shooting last night. No matter, the rest of the 49ers shot 27 of 56 from the field, including 10 of 24 from three, and shot 17 of 19 from the line. Chris Braswell dominated the Cardinals with 21 points and 14 rebounds, as Charlotte outrebounded Louisville 46-35. The 49ers can shoot the three and have the inside combination of Spears and Braswell. The 49ers are a team to watch in the A10 this season.
Drexel and Northeastern played a typical game for them, a 49-47 win for the 4-5 Dragons at the Dac. It's amazing how these teams play basketball. It's really a game that only Woody Hayes could love, 3 yards and a cloud of dust. The teams combined for 83 field goal attempts for the entire game (by themselves, Hofstra had 69 field goal attempts yesterday against Towson). The teams didn't shoot badly from the field - Drexel shot 44 percent, Northeastern 42 percent. However, you won't see either team chuck a lot from three - Northeastern attempted only three from beyond the arc (made two), while Drexel was 1 of 8 from beyond the arc.
Two things killed Northeastern yesterday; sharpshooter Matt Janning was only 4 of 7 from the line and Northeastern showed why they are last in the CAA in assist to turnover ratio - 8 assists to 14 turnovers. You can't win with that lack of ball control and the lowest number of field goal attempts in the CAA - 317 FG attempts, 39 less than the next team Towson. Thus their 2-4 record.
The funny thing is that Georgia State also won a similar game over James Madison 49-44. Both teams combined for 90 field goal attempts (in all the other CAA games, the teams combined for over 100 field goal attempts). I really believe if you put Georgia State, JMU, Drexel and Northeastern right now in a round robin tournament with all teams playing each other three times, there would not be a single game where the winning team scored more than 55 points. Seriously.
I correctly called the ODU 21 point blowout win over Delaware. If ODU could have hit a few three pointers (3 of 17 from beyond the arc), it would have been 30 easily. The Blue Hens are going to struggle to win a game in conference this season. They are that bad.
Finally, I watched the first half of the game between George Mason and UNC Wilmington. The Patriots held on to beat the Seahawks 57-52. Mason was up by 20 in the second half before UNCW rallied to cut it two but just couldn't make up the entire deficit. I told my friend Mal two things in a text yesterday before the game. One, I thought UNCW would win. I was wrong. Second, I texted him "Remember the name, John Fields." I was right about that. Fields had 21 points, 13 rebounds and 5 blocks. Mason has a lot of talent with Ryan Pearson, Kevin Foster etc and I love the Patriots. But Fields was the best player out there, and he's the reason why UNCW is so much more competitive this season.
Finally, my friend Grant sent me this link on Kansas' blowout win over Alcorn State. Apparently Kansas' 36 consecutive points vs. Alcorn State was spurred by an Alcorn State coach telling his players not to help up Sherron Collins when he fell down near their bench. Collins told his fellow players "Don't let them score". Moral of the story - Be sportsmanlike at all times and allow your players to help up their opponents. Especially when you're 0-9, playing on the road and your opponent is #1 ranked Kansas. Just sheer brilliance there.
Now back to watching my kids. May you have a fun Sunday. :-)