Sunday, December 03, 2006

Falcons Win Another Thriller

The Cardiac kids are back, I guess. The Falcons picked up a good win Saturday at Anderson Arena against a Troy team that was fast and athletic as hell, and has led the nation in 3FG the last two seasons. I don't think they are a great team, but the wins are great for our team's confidence.

It almost went the other way. We had played an absolutely great game for 37:30, and we led Troy by 11 with 2:32 left. Wait a minute, you say. Where's the thrill in THAT?

Hang on to your hats. Here's how it happened.

2:20 Troy misses, but gets the board and converts a 2FG. (BG +9)
1:49 Samarco has shot blocked.
1:48 Marschall fouls (out). Troy hits both FT (BG +7)
1:34 Troy misses two shots at hoop, and fouls on the rebound.
1:33 Samarco hits one FT. (BG +8)
1:21 Troy hits jumper (BG +6)
1:15 Troy fouls Hamblet, who splits the 1-1 (BG +7)
1:06 Troy turns it over

(STOP HERE. Should be over, right? Up 7, 1:06 left, with the ball?)

:54 Samarco turns it over.
:49 Troy nails a 3 (BG +4)
:43 Samarco turns it over.
:38 Troy hits fast break lay up (BG +2)
:37 Hamblet turns it over, but Troy misses the shot and we get ball back.
:15 Troy fouls Samarco, who splits the 1-1 (BG +3)
:04 Troy's Cedric Jackson drains a 3 with somebody right in his face (TIE).

So there you have it. Three To's and two missed FTs, against a team that hits the three, and it is a game again.

Ryne Hamblet (last week's hero) took the inbound and drove up the right. He was surrounded as he reached the top of the key, and a lot of players would have just pumped it to the hoop. But Ryne is a good ballplayer, and saw a lane to Samarco in the corner. In fact, from our seats, we had a perfect view of the exact lane. I remember thinking, about one second before he let the ball go, hey, there' s a lane to Samarco. Hamblet gets him the ball, and Martin does a brilliant catch and shoot under heavy pressure and hits nothing but net.

BG Wins by 2. And the 1,500 in the stands go crazy, again.

In the post game, Coach acknowledged that it would have been ugly had we lost this game.

"The ups were not as high as the downs. We didn't quit in the last 15 seconds and we gave a good shooter, Jackson, his shot in his spot. That is where he shoots the basketball. Then when our shot went in we were obviously ecstatic but at the same time, a little bit upset with how you played in the last three minutes. I don't know what I would have done had we lost this one."

It didn't make the transcript, but on the radio, he said something like "The entire building would have come down, and not just from me." He also said the players ran to the locker room saying that it should never have come to that.

Overall, though, I don't think we should lose the good stuff in the sauce. It was actually a pretty good BG performance for most of the game. I am becoming cautiously optimistic that this team might finally be turning the corner.

Some thoughts.

Troy plays zone. BG has absolutely blown against the zone for as long as I can remember. Yesterday, however, we actually looked like we had some idea what to do. In particular, Dusan and Guerin both drove the ball to the soft spot in the zone and kicked it back out to get a shot.

We only shot 42.4%, and we won anyway. We held Troy to 35.9%. Teams are not shooting well against us--a hallmark of good Dakich teams.

Dusan is really coming around. He had 8 pts, 5 boards and 3 assists, but in reality contributed a lot more. He was a steady presence with the ball against pressure, and he attacked the zone. He may not have gotten some assists, but he often made the pass that led to the pass that led to the basket. He is earning his minutes (27) and is the kind of role player winning teams have.

Ditto Brian Guerin, who played 28. Coach said he really seemed to start getting it in practice this week, so he saw the floor, and then earned himself more time once he was out there. Again, the stats line was not outlandish (5 points and 5 assists) but he really contributed to the offensive effort.

In addition to zones, we absolutely blew wind against pressure last year....both full court and traps. (See UT). It was painful to watch. We had trouble even getting the ball inbounds against quick teams. We got trapped in corners a lot with no help. You get the idea. Not last night (for 37 minutes). We only turned it over 14 times, which is a big improvement. Hamblet (even with 5 turnovers) is a steady force with the ball, as were Guerin and Sims with fewer minutes. Dusan, too, and Samarco as usual. We were poised, confident, and it was great to see.

Samarco--what can you say. 29 points, (11-14 from the line, lest you get the wrong idea from his missed shots down the stretch). He brings it on every single possession, on both ends of the floor. Everybody shows up to stop him, and he still produces. He is an absolute warrior.

Our inside game wasn't quite what it was before, but Marschall had 10/5, though he fouled out. And Lefeld could only play 10 minutes. Still, we at least have the potential with this team to go inside and out.

I'm feeling pretty giddy and hopeful. Monday, we play Arkansas State at home, a team that beat us by 10 on their floor earlier in the year. Beating them would be a nice sign that we are improving.

I don't want to jump too far ahead, but there is no question this team is playing harder and smarter than last year's team, and I would love to see us pull a surprise in the MAC.

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