You’re on a game show, and the show’s host, let’s say it’s Tom Yeager, asks you to choose one of three doors. The goal is to pick the door with the highest-yielding voucher, although you won’t be able redeem this voucher until early March.
For now, it’s yours as a simple tribute to the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world of sports.
You tell him you want door number two. You assure the host that this is indeed your final selection, and his buddy Ron Bertovich comes out to reveal what’s behind door number one.
Behind door number one, you see Buzz Peterson and a UNCW team that’s just won back-to-back road games for the first time in nearly two years. You realize the importance that has to a team that won exactly one road game all of last season, but you don’t feel quite as bad about your selection after realizing that the Seahawks lost at Western Kentucky by 15 on Thursday night.
Now staring at doors numbered two and three, Yeager asks you if you’d like to switch from your original choice. You feel really good about door number two, but you’ve got a tingling feeling about what’s behind door number three. Suddenly, you remember running into Quincy Ford backstage before you went on air. You think to yourself, why isn’t Quincy in Puerto Rico with the Northeastern Huskies?
At this point, your need to speak with the Q-Man is overriding your desire to finish the game show. Because you know it makes for better television, and because you just recently watched that blackjack movie with Kevin Spacey, you tell Yeager that you want to switch. He’s shocked at your risky decision.
Rob Washburn steps onto the stage, and opens door number two. It’s a video broadcast showing the entire Drexel team standing at midcourt of Madison Square Garden. Stepping forward is a cross-armed Bruiser Flint, who glares at you as if you just botched a blocking call on Kazembe Abif, who was clearly in position to draw the charge.
It hurts, because you’ve seen how well Flint’s Dragons have played this season. You also know that in less than one week, they’ll take on Sean Miller’s highly-ranked Arizona team under the bright lights at The World’s Most Famous Arena.
You tell Yeager how thrilled you are with Drexel’s performances in the NIT Season Tip-Off, and that you can’t wait to see what the Dragons can do in The Garden. He agrees with you, and shows you this clip of Andy Katz hyping up the Dragons after their wins against Elon and Rutgers. You’re temporarily dismayed that you missed out on the Drexel voucher, but you look up to see Bertovich and Yeager still smiling.
They offer to end your suspense, but not before an appearance by a special guest. College of Charleston head coach Doug Wojcik steps out of the crowd’s front row, and walks beside door number three. He reminds you that the real prize is in March (and based on his days playing with Navy, you should trust him) and advises you to sit back and enjoy the ride.
He opens door number three, and it’s Quincy Ford with two pieces of paper. He hands you the first one, which is a halftime box score of the Georgetown-Northeastern game. You’re disappointed because the Huskies were losing by 11, turning the ball over and in serious foul trouble. And to top it off, Ford’s name is nowhere to be found in box score.
But Ford hands you the second piece of paper, and you see that the Huskies held Georgetown to 20 points in the second half, and came back to win 63-56 in Puerto Rico. Ford has highlighted several key statistics, noting that the Huskies outrebounded the Hoyas, outscored them in the paint, and committed fewer turnovers.
You’re still disappointed that Ford’s back injury kept him out of the action, but are floored by the fact that the Huskies did it without him. Looking ahead, you’re thrilled to watch what Bill Coen’s squad can do with its strongest frontcourt to date.
Just a few minutes into the Northeastern-Georgetown showdown, you couldn’t help but feel sorry for Reggie Spencer and Scott Eatherton. You watched in horror as the Hoyas’ moving land mass Joshua Smith, every bit of 6’10” 350, bullied his way around the paint, and snatched seemingly every rebound from the sky.
(Side note on Smith: it’s absolutely ridiculous that this guy was able to retain a year of eligibility after playing six injury-free games for UCLA last season, and that Donte Hill lost a year for playing eight minutes in a scrimmage.)
The Huskies looked to be in for a long afternoon in Puerto Rico when, about 10 minutes into the game, Eatherton picked up his third foul. 6’5” sophomore Zach Stahl, who always impresses you with his ability to defend bigger post players, soon had three as well. The Huskies were trailing by double digits, and had a bleak outlook.
But somewhere midway through the first half, things started to change. Derrico Peck and T.J. Williams stepped onto the court, and provided the Huskies with new life. Spencer began fronting Smith, which severely hindered Georgetown’s ability to get the ball inside. Spencer, who got plenty of experience battling larger post players last season, continued to fight against the bigger adversary.
Most importantly, the Huskies settled in, stopped turning the ball over, and started throwing some punches of their own. In the second half, Northeastern made twice as many field goals as Georgetown, and held the Hoyas to 23.1% shooting.
What was really impressive was how the Huskies did it: tightening the zone inside, and daring the Hoyas to beat them from the perimeter. The Hoyas missed all eight of their three-point attempts in the second half. Meanwhile, Northeastern attempted nary a 3-pointer in the second half. The Huskies were unfazed by their bigger opponents, and attacked the lane with ferocity.
It was Walker driving both sides of the lane, getting fouled and still finishing. It was Spencer putting on an offensive rebounding clinic, and finishing with 18 points and nine boards (six offensive). It was Eatherton playing as well as anyone can play with foul trouble, and not giving the Hoyas any second-chance opportunities (12 points, 10 defensive rebounds).
And at the end of the game, it was Northeastern celebrating a 63-56 win over Georgetown, and advancing to the play the Charlotte 49ers, who beat the Huskies last season in the Great Alaskan Shootout, in Friday’s semifinal.
Last season, Northeastern placed second in the Great Alaskan Shootout. In a much more competitive PRTO field, Northeastern showed what we already know: that Bill Coen’s squad, no matter if it’s undersized or undermanned, will fight and claw to the end. Husky dogs are bred to thrive in treacherous conditions, and were better equipped for stormy Puerto Rico than were the Hoyas.
Since logging just 13 minutes in the season opener at UCLA, sixth man Tavon Allen has been a revelation for Drexel. No one doubts the talent, but Flint, probably wary of the questionable shot selection Allen exhibited last year, hesitated to give him major minutes from the get go. After Allen dropped a career-high 21 points at Rutgers, Flint will have a hard time keeping him off the floor.
Shortly after Rutgers made an 11-2 run to make it a one-point game, Allen went on a personal 9-0 spurt over a 75-second span to push the Dragons lead to 13. The run showcased his ability to run the floor and finish at the rim, and came at a crucial juncture in the game. The Dragons were on their heels, as both Chris Fouch and Damion Lee were saddled with foul trouble.
With four games in the books, the Dragons are doing what you’d expect: outrebounding opponents, dominating the perimeter, and playing smart offensive basketball. Kazembe Abif and Dartaye Ruffin get after the boards (both averaging 8.8 rebounds) and defenses have to respect their abilities to put the ball in the basket.
The best part is that aside from the UCLA game, Massenat hasn’t had to shoulder the load. Less pressure on Frantz, the best point guard in the league, is trouble for the rest of us.
Heading into Monday night’s game, the Seahawks of UNCW had the chance to win back-to-back road games for the first time since their last trip to Lynchburg (December 6th, 2011). 56 personal fouls and 76 free throw attempts later, the Seahawks had an 87-76 victory, and a 3-2 record (now 3-3 after last night’s loss at Western Kentucky).
Four Tanner Milson 3-pointers helped the Dubmen build a lead, and allowed Addison Spruill to find driving lanes in a stretched Flame defense. Perhaps the most noteworthy event was Ben Elben scoring 13 points (I’m guessing that’s a personal best) on 6-of-6 shooting. He’s done a great job of managing the game, but he has to make opponents respect his ability to knock down shots.
For UNCW, the formula for success is clear. It’s steady-handed Eblen providing a calming presence at the point, and his smooth game cutting down on the turnovers that killed the Seahawks last year. It’s formidable interior defense from Cedrick Williams and Shane Reybold. It’s timely three-point shooting from Milson (13-of-26 on the season). We just hope that sooner or later, senior Chris Dixon can get it going.
Delaware put five players in double figures, and fell one point short of hitting 90 for the third straight game in an 89-74 win at Army. Jarvis Threatt had another huge game, and Marvin King-Davis continues to play well (13 points, nine boards) as a starter. All five Blue Hen starters had at least six rebounds. Delaware didn’t shoot well from three (7-of-22, but Army was worse (2-of-21).
Doug Wojcik’s quote on Miami’s 70-54 win at College of Charleston is really all you need:
“Miami played really well tonight. They shot better than they have all year. It was the combination of their made threes and our missed free throws which widened the gap. It felt like they shot 70 percent in the first half. I love the way we started the game and started the second half. I thought we executed well. In the end, give them credit. They ran good offense and we didn’t shoot free throws very well at all. They are athletic and give (James) Kelly a lot of credit. He has played very well for them for three-straight games and that’s why he started tonight.”
Only high school volleyball championships are won in November, and for all the talk of the Hurricanes’ early season struggles, they were impressive. The Cougars will get better.
On Tuesday night, the young Dukes watched as CAA and NCAA Tournament banners were lifted into the rafters at the Convocation Center. James Madison couldn’t give the home crowd a victory, and fell to Detroit by four. Still, there were encouraging moments.
Last season, the Dukes played with an energy that seems to have carried over with the eight newcomers, and will only be amplified when Andre Nation returns in 10 games. The transition offense, a huge part of their success last season, needs work (and they can’t miss 19 free throws and expect to win).
But Charles Cooke and Andrey Semenov are starting to shoot the ball well, and freshmen Tom Vodanovich, Jackson Kent and Ivan Lukic look like they belong. Come February, they’ll comprise a dangerous, albeit enigmatic squad.
Hofstra never trailed in regulation, but fell by 11 in overtime at Richmond on Tuesday night. Three missed free throws in the final 90 seconds spoiled a brilliant 37-point outburst from Zeke Upshaw. Upshaw showed he can be a rally killer, hitting 3-pointers and getting to the charity stripe when Richmond started to gain momentum.
We hope that continues, but something that can’t persist is 19 turnovers, including a combined 13 from Upshaw and Dion Nesmith. Seniors gotta be seniors.
William & Mary struggled at home on Wednesday night, and fell by 11 to High Point. Marcus Thornton went over 1,000 points for his career, but the Panthers shot 51.6% and dominated the paint (42-31 on the glass, 46-26 points in the paint). Rusthoven still had 20 points, but didn’t much help from his frontcourt mates. W&M fell behind early, and couldn’t dig its way out of the hole.
Shaver said the Tribe was outworked, and implied that the team severely misses Brandon Britt. He summed it up in the postgame press conference:
“We seemed sloppy, we seemed reckless, we seemed careless a little bit with the ball. We just have to do a better job executing. I mean honestly, we’re a little bit out of sync without a point guard. It’s tough. I don’t want to make excuses, but we’re putting Marcus in a position he’s not used to playing, and it really takes its toll defensively as much as on the offensive end. He’s chasing point guards around, and we don’t have backups right now, so it’s a tough situation. But we have to play better. What’s on the floor has to play better.”
Omar Prewitt, however, contributed 12 points, eight boards, four assists and three steals. He’s the Tribe’s leading rebounder, and the freshman has scored in double figures in all four of W&M’s games. By the way, the Tribe shot 10-of-29 from three.
With the credits now rolling, Ford, Yeager, Bertovich and Wojcik urge you to hurry off set, because the Northeastern-Charlotte game is starting on ESPNU in less than 30 minutes.