The Court Cocks just wrapped up a 78-68 victory over the La Salle Explorers in the first round of the Charleston Classic. This was a nice victory, as the Explorers are considered a good mid-major with good chance to win the Atlantic Ten, one of the better mid-major conferences. This is not an opponent that any average Joe will get a convincing win over this year.
Here are my thoughts on the game:
- This game was not as close in the second half as the final score indicates, as the Explorers narrowed what had for some time hovered around a 20-point gap while the benches were in during garbage time. This was really a pretty convincing win.
- The first half, though, was a different story. In what appears to be becoming a trend, we played sloppy, ugly basketball until about the five minute mark, at which time we chipped into the Explorers' lead and eventually took our first lead in the final minute of the half. It's hard for me to be too hard on our guys for sloppy first-half play when they're so good in the second half, but you have to think that better teams will eat us alive when we play like that. What makes matters worse is that the big problems were self-inflicted. We missed lots of easy shots, including some gimme layups and dunks, and turned the ball over frequently. We've gotta start controlling these factors. If we do, we could really start to soar; if we can win by 10 against La Salle with these numbers, what could we have done with better?
- More particularly on the subject of turnovers, both teams ended up with 17 in this game. That's not Darrin Horn basketball. Horn wants to finish with a positive differential in this department, as was the case when we played our best last year. The numbers wouldn't worry me so much if our freshmen were the ones committing the turnovers while going through their growing pains, but they're not. Our leaders were the problem; Dominique Archie had four on the game and Devan Downey had five. In their defense, both regained their composure in the second.
- On the subject of freshmen, both Lakeem Jackson and Jhondre Jefferson had six points, and Jefferson had an impressive five blocks. Solid game for both guys.
- Our depth is better this year than last. That's good, because Devan Downey doesn't appear to be playing his best yet. Particular nods go to Jefferson, Brandis Raley-Ross (16 points and 4/6 from beyond the arc), and Austin Steed, who played good defense. Coach Horn appears to have reduced Evka Baniulus's role, which suggests that Horn is opting for defense over shooting. Evka is a player that that gets hot at times, though, so it might just be that we've yet to see him really start shooting well.
That's a wrap for today. Next up is South Florida, who beat post-Stephen Curry Davidson in round one. Miami and UNC-Wilmington will meet in the other bracket. I don't know much about USF yet, but they beat Davidson and Viriginia, so they can't be too bad. Let's see how we do.