Monday, November 26, 2007

Observations from Boone

-My party had a pre-game meal in a nice Greek restaurant right across the street from the arena. The food was really good and we enjoyed eavesdropping on several App Fans conversations about Mountaineer sports. I was dismayed that the restaurant was totally decked out in football stuff without any reference to a winter sport. Then we found a basketball poster in the corner...for the women. No wonder this basketball team has had a hard time becoming a winning program.

-I admit that I was really looking forward to seeing the Holmes Center and experiencing one of the best SoCon basketball environments outside of Charleston or Davidson. But I was pretty disappointed in the Apps for several reasons. First off, they turned off the lights for their pre-game intros which was cool...except for the fact that they turned them off before our intro, which we did in pitch blackness. Then the announcer pronounced Steee-ven Curry which got all of the Davidson fans really riled up. After Steph outscored ASU throughout most of the first half, the announcer started saying Stef-ahhn. What is this, Family Matters? At this point, there is no excuse for any school in the SoCon to pronounce his name wrong. I guess I just didn't believe that the ASU athletic department would stoop so low as to try to rattle him by intentionally mispronouncing his name. That wasn't so classy.

-Appalachian State seems to be having some identity issues when it comes to their success as an athletic program. One poster in a local Subway celebrated the Mountaineers' 2005-2006 D-I Football National Championship. Hey now, I think an A or two might be needed for that one. Also, this year's basketball team media guide has a picture of a 2006-2007 Regular Season Champions ring. First off, who gets rings for winning the regular season and then putting an NIT logo. And second of all, ASU DIDN'T WIN THE REGULAR SEASON! They won the SoCon's North Division and lost as a 2 seed in the conference tournament semis before getting blasted in the play-in round of the NIT. I guess people will buy rings for anything these days.

-This rivalry is probably one of the cleanest amongst SoCon foes. I know that Georgia Southern-CofC has gotten heated over the years and so has Georgia Southern-ASU in football. Every year there are some pretty frustrated CofC fans and overzealous Davidson fans who don't always get along. But I felt like everything was pretty calm in the Holmes Center tonight. The App students and administration did their part to try to rattle Steph, and the Wildcats were very intentional in their silencing of the crowd. It could have gotten uglier than it did.

-It seems like opponents are going to be getting open looks from the corners for the rest of the season. Davidson doubled down on the post and trapped near the perimeter a few times. App. State was very effective in their rotation early on, and they kept the score close by hitting some wide open three-pointers. Thankfully, they cooled off after a while. I guess the defense makes sense most of the time because ASU had untold numbers of missed layups, charges and travels while being doubled in the paint, and several of their players could not hit wide open threes if their life depended on it. But that is something we are giving up right now and it looks like it will continue.

-Davidson hit 12 three-pointers tonight, nine of them coming from Curry (Curry finished with a career-high 38, setting a new Holmes Center record). Some people might worry that we are relying on him too much, but there were a few moments when either Steph wasn't in the game or he was tired and the rest of the offense just sensed that they needed to step up. The Bryant Barr three-pointer to break ASU's late run came as a result of too much defensive attention being spent on Steph. It was a perfect example of how such a great player made his teammates better.

-I was a bit worried about the lack of entry passes that we put into the paint in the first half. Thomas "The General" Sander converted on several nice back-to-the-basket opportunities later on, but our frontcourt struggled during much of the early going. All of the bigs, Sander especially, seemed very tentative about taking their shot. They almost just expected Jeremy Clayton to come swat their shot on every attempt. There were several times where they had open layups or dunks, but their hesitation allowed the defense to recover. One stat that really displayed this tentativeness was FT shooting. Davidson had absolutely none until the final minutes of the game.

-Will Archambault seems to be in the slump of a lifetime. This thing is beginning to get to those proportions where in baseball, players would completely change their pregame rituals, sleep on the other side of the bed or switch the order in which they eat their pregame meal. Coach McKillop didn't force the issue tonight as he allowed Bryant Barr to come in and play the 3 position alongside J-Rich and Stephen. Jason also had a tough game. He missed several open threes and his patented drives seemed to have been a tad off. He was visibly frustrated with his lack of offensive output.

-The biggest part of this game was the fire with which Davidson played. ASU tried to slow the game down and deflate Davidson's emotion by running a 2-3 zone defense, but it ultimately didn't shut us down completely. From the first tip to the final whistle MPG, The Big Cat, Boris and, of course Steph, created loose balls, crashed the boards and answered every run made by the Mountaineers. They pulled out a victory on the road against a very formidable SoCon opponent. That is no small accomplishment for November.


Anonymous said...

Great write up on the game.

Technically, App is the NCAA D-1 Football National Champions. Florida was the BCS National Champs. Its nit-piky, I know, but the poster is accurate.

WB said...

We need Big Willie to get it going really badly!

DrFrankLives said...

"What's my NAME!?!?!?"

I for one hope they keep calling him Steven.