Saturday, March 7, 2015

SoCon Tournament Review Day Two

Wofford 70, UNCG 52

Player of the Game: Spencer Collins scored 21 points on 9 of 14 shooting from the floor. On a night where Karl Cochran and Lee Skinner both struggled for much of the game, Collins stepped up in a big way and provided the difference in this one.

Stat of the Game: Wofford shot 50% from the floor. The Terriers were pretty hot from the floor on the whole and the Spartans made just 35.1% of their shots. UNCG needed to shoot the ball well to win and hold the Terriers down. It didn't happen.

Where UNCG goes from here: The Spartans injury problems throughout the year should be better next year. There will be no Nicholas Paulos, but the rest of the team returns and this club looked better down the stretch. They should continue that improvement next year and should finish in the top half of the conference. This team has talent- they just have to get better from here. It seems likely that Wes Miller will return for another year- for better or worse.

Where Wofford goes from here: The Terriers advance to the semifinals against Western Carolina and now are just two wins away from a second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. The Terriers looked like a motivated team and a team that it is going to be extraordinarily difficult to beat. The Terriers defense was top of the line today. If they continue to defend like that, they become an even bigger favorite in this tournament.

Western Carolina 67, ETSU 61 (OT)

Player of the Game: James Sinclair scored 30 points, had 14 rebounds and had six steals. Truly a remarkable game from Sinclair, who had outscored ETSU on his own for a long time. Sinclair's play was really amazing in this one.

Stat of the Game: Jalen Riley shot 2 of 11 from the floor and scored just eight points. The SoCon's leading scorer was held nearly silent. He simply had an off night. Honestly, it was amazing that ETSU was able to take the game to overtime given how poorly Riley played for most of the night.

Where ETSU goes from here: This club was made up of a solid core of seniors. Jalen Riley, Rashawn Rembert, the injured Ron Giplaye, and Alex Bates were all seniors. This was the year this team was supposed to make a run. Lester Wilson, AJ Merriweather, Petey McClain, Devin Harris and Desonta Bradford are all back. This team may be OK next year, but it is hard to find them as a better team next year. This team underachieved, there is no question. That may mean that next year's team can match this year's, but they are unlikely to be contenders for the SoCon title.

Where Western Carolina goes from here: The Catamounts advance to the semifinals against Wofford and will get yet another chance to take out a number one seed in Asheville. Last year, Western Carolina shocked Davidson right out of the SoCon in the semifinals. Can they do the same thing again? Sinclair and  Mike Brown had big games, but the supporting cast will have to be even better tomorrow night for them to beat the Terriers.

Furman 69, Chattanooga 67

Player of the Game: Devin Sibley scored 16 points with six rebounds. He made 4 of 11 from the field, but he made 7 of 8 from the free throw line.

Stat of the Game: Furman made 27 of 32 from the free throw line. The Mocs made just 13 of 19. That fourteen free throw difference was the biggest difference in the game. The Paladins making 84.4% of their free throws was way above their season average and another reason that they won in surprising fashion.

Where Chattanooga goes from here: The Mocs lose only one senior, Rico White. This team will likely be in another postseason tournament. Next year was supposed to be the year this team was pointing towards. However, this is a remarkably disappointing loss. They have now lost six consecutive SoCon Tournament games. This program has to learn how to win in SoCon Tournaments again before they can be fully turned around. It was one of the better seasons in Chattanooga basketball history in a lot of ways, but a very disappointing ending.

Where Furman goes from here: Straight to a very unlikely semifinal bid opposite Mercer. They are playing with house money now. This club is young and on the rise, and they finally proved it tonight with this gutsy performance. They made key free throws down the stretch, something they struggled with all year long. They played a very nice game all the way around.

Mercer 89, VMI 61

Player of the Game: TJ Hallice scored 19 points on 8 of 10  shooting from the floor. He also collected nine rebounds. He can be a dominant player when the other team does not have a good inside player. This was one of those match-ups.

Stat of the Game: VMI shot only 37.9% from the floor. The Keydets have not shot the ball well in losses, and this was one of those games. They had gotten better from the floor in recent weeks and really needed to shoot well in this one to come up with the win.

Where VMI goes from here: The Keydets have just one contributing senior- Brian Brown. This team could be better next year, but unless they get much better at shooting the ball in the offseason, there are going to continue to be problems for this squad. They don't shoot the ball well enough to win consistently in the SoCon at this point. They have to start shooting the ball better.

Where Mercer goes from here: The Bears are going to the semifinals and get a chance to  play the last place team in the conference in Furman. They have a relatively easy path to the finals now. The Bears did not commit a lot of turnovers, really protecting the ball against the Keydet pressure. That was very impressive. If they are going to continue playing like they played tonight, they may well be the favorite to win the entire championship.

1 comment:

  1. Tough loss for both of our schools John. But fear not, your Mocs will certainly make either the CIT or the CBI.

    VMI has a couple solid freshman coming in and we should fill the void at point guard, although we still lack a true center. But like you said, if we can shoot well from outside, it doesn't matter.