Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Year's Wish List

It's the end of the year. With that will come those stupid New Year's Resolutions lists that everyone makes. I've decided to break away from that a little bit. We'll just call this a Wish List. Here's a 2009 wish list for Spartan basketball. Also, I've got a few personal wishes for myself that I'll throw in at the end.

1. That UNCG chancellor Linda Brady will continue to push this athletic department hard to accomplish more. She has hit this job hard in her first 4-5 months. She's injected excitement all over the place. Her basketball announcement is the lone bright spot so far this basketball season. I hope she keeps it up.
2. That someone will step up at PG and become a leader and a player. Many of UNCG's problems have come from a lack of production at the PG spot. This has to change for the Spartans to start winning.
3. That attendance numbers will really pick up. They are going to have to pick up. UNCG is moving to a larger building and it needs to be filled with UNCG fans. Notice I said UNCG fans, not just people. It's the job of the people in the sports marketing department and ISP to figure out how to not just get fans to come watch 1 game a year, but to become UNCG fans and come back many times.
4. That UNCG and the Greensboro Coliseum handle this change over well. Hopefully, they won't over charge for tickets, parking or concessions. I would love to see this move turn out great and look back as the turning point of UNCG basketball.
5. That donations to the Spartan Club get to the point where they can sustain all of the athletic scholarships given out. I think that if all the UNCG alumni and fans out there gave at even the lowest level, this could happen in a hurry. Let's hope that the energy this move will generate can be translated into a larger financial support for our university.
6. And finally ... that the Spartans start winning. Generating campus-wide excitement, stopping all of the conversations about Dement's future and filling Fleming up with fans would be awesome effects of a winning streak.

Here are a few of my personal ones ...

- I gave up cigarettes about 5 months ago and I've have felt like complete shit ever since. Everyone told me that this would be the case. One of my wishes for 2009 is that I will finally start feeling better.
- I had 3 major injuries playing sports this past year. I pulled a muscle in my chest (that still isn't 100%), sprained my knee and tore my calf muscle. I really think this is my body telling me that I'm not young anymore. Might be time to stop playing softball like it's my job and start to just enjoy it for the exercise and friendship. Another of my wishes for 2009 is to stay injury free.
- I need to sit up straight. My posture has been screwed up my entire life. As far back as middle school, friends would pick on me for walking with my head down and slumping shoulders. Fast forward 15 years and my back is always in knots. My final wish for 2009 is that I can pretend that there's a string attached from the ceiling to the top of my head.

Akron (7-4) @ UNCG (1-8)

When: Wednesday, Dec 31 2 pm
Where: Fleming Gym (2,320)
TV: None/ Spartan All-Access

Akron Athletics
Akron Forum - Zips Nation
Rasor on the Zips - Blog

Spartan Notes:
- Last time out, UNCG fell to Dayton 75-44. The Spartans scored just 15 first half points. Mikko Koivisto scored 10 points.
- This will be the first UNCG home game since a December 6 loss to College of Charleston. This will be the second (and last) non-conference home game for UNCG.
- This is the second straight season that a MAC conference team will visit Fleming Gym. Last year, Kent State visited Greensboro.
- Koivisto still leads UNCG in scoring (12.6) and assists (2.6). Ben Stywall leads in rebounding (8.1).
- For the season, UNCG is shooting 36.1% from the field, 29.2% from behind the arc and 65% from the free throw line.

Zips Notes:
- Akron built on a 2 point halftime lead to beat St. Francis (NY) 77-70 on Sunday. Jimmy Conyers (17 pts) led three Zips in double figures.
- My recap on Akron's wins/losses/RPI can be found here.
- Nate Linhart (11.5), Brett McKnight (11.2) and "Humpty" Hitchens (10.8) are all averaging in double figures. Linhart is also leading Akron in rebounds (5.7) and assists (2.0).
- So far this year, Akron is shooting 42.4% from the field, 32.7% from 3 point range and 71.6% from the free throw line.

My Thoughts:
There was an almost sellout crowd for Kent State last year. Even though this year's squad is playing poorly, I'm interested to see what the turnout will be for this season's marquee OOC game.

As far as the game goes, UNCG will have to show a lot of improvement in all areas of it's game to compete in this one. Akron has 9 players averaging double figures in minutes played and they seem to spread around all of the stats.

Let's hope the layoff and some home magic can bring UNCG together and get them another win in 2008.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

On the Rise?

UNCG 44- Dayton 75

News & Record
UNCG recap
Dayton Daily News
Dayton recap

I'm going to skip my normal recap style for this game. I'll just make random points because there was no good or bad, only ugly. Lots and lots of ugly.

- I've never been more happy for a video feed to mess up as I was 4 minutes into the second half last night.
- UNCG didn't have a second half breakdown. This one was long over by by that point. The Spartans scored 15 points in the first half. UNCG made 4 field goals and had 12 turnovers.
- The guys who do the radio play-by-play for UNCG have got to be insane. At halftime, they tried to make the point that the Spartans were going to make some noise in the second half. I'm all for staying positive, but that was ridiculous.
- I've never seen one team destroy another team one on the boards as bad as Dayton beat UNCG last night. I honestly started thinking that every time UNCG got a defensive rebound that the entire Dayton team had taken pity on them.
- While I was watching Michigan State and Texas play yesterday, I couldn't help to think that either of those teams could beat UNCG by 80 points. It's sad how bad this team really is right now. What team on the schedule can UNCG beat?

Here's the final thought ... Will Dement be coaching UNCG next year?

Friday, December 19, 2008

UNCG (1-7) @ Dayton (9-1)

When: Saturday, Dec 20 8 pm (est)
Where: University of Dayton Arena (13,409)
TV: None

Dayton Athletics
Dayton Forum - Rivals
Blackburn Review - Blog
(There are actually a bunch of UD blogs. I just picked this one b/c that's who I've been chatting with. There are links on that page to the rest of them.)

Spartan Notes:
- UNCG fell to Kent State 73-62 on Thursday night. Kendall Toney scored 14 points and Elhanan Bone grabbed 10 rebounds for the Spartans.
- UNCG is 0-5 on the road this season and have lost 6 straight games overall.
- Mikko Koivisto (12.9) is leading UNCG in scoring and assists (2.8). Ben Styawall is the Spartans leading rebounder (8.4).
- For the season UNCG is shooting 36.8% from the field, 28.9% from behind the arc and 64.8% from the free throw line.

Flyers Notes:
-Dayton defeated Coppin State 73-56 last Sturday night. Chris Johnson had 20 points and 12 rebounds as Coppin State was held to 28.8% shooting form the field.
- The recap of Dayton's wins/losses/RPI can be found here.
-Chris Wright is leading Dayton in scoring (13.0) and rebounds (7.5). London Warren (4.1) and Rob Lowery (3.2) both have solid assist numbers.
- For the season Dayton is shooting 41.6% from the field, 29.9% from the 3 point line and 68.6% from the free throw line.

My Thoughts:
My thoughts on this game are roughly the same from the other night's game against Kent State. UNCG will need to avoid turnovers, poor free throw shooting, poor rebounding and foul trouble in order to have any shot. But, the main thing I'd like to see is UNCG coming out after halftime and being the more aggressive team.

The main difference from Kent State to Dayton is that the Flyers have an amazing defense. I believe they are ranked 4th nationally in defense. That means that the Spartans will have to really work to take care of the ball and make every possession count.

Hopefully, the Spartans can build on some of their success on Thursday night and sneak up on a very good team that's maybe looking ahead to Christmas.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Know Your Enemy

I had the chance to exchange some questions University of Dayton blogger Tom over at the Blackburn Review. We got the chance to discuss hair bands, defense and if a fashion show could break out in the middle of a basketball game. You can find my answers to his questions here

I'll have my normal preview of the Flyers later on.

Discarding stats, who is the guy that makes the Flyers go?
Chris Wright is the obvious choice, but I would say Marcus Johnson dictates how UD plays. If he is on, the Flyers seem to play well. If he is off, UD has a hard time finding a second scorer to compliment Wright. This has become a disconcerting trend with Dayton this year, finding someone to score on the nights in which Wright is struggling. The team has yet to find that consistent scorer.

Statistically, the Flyers' defense has been outstanding this year. What's the story behind it? UNCG will shoot a Duke-esque amount of three pointers. Will that change the kind of defense that Dayton normally plays?
Gregory finally has the type of players that can effectively implement the type of defensive scheme he wants to employ. The team is very athletic and deep--two necessary facets for running Dayton's defensive system. I don't think UNCG style will change the way Dayton comes out on the defensive end. UD has played against up-tempo teams and half-court oriented offenses and played the same type of pressure defense all year. The one area, ironically enough, is their 3 point defense. Their brand of defense usually leads to some over pursuits, which often leads to open looks on the perimeter.

I read somewhere that Dayton would be wearing a light-blue and red uniform against the Spartans. If UNCG wears it's all gold uniforms, will anybody be able to watch this game for more than a couple of minutes at a time before having to turn away? Would Dayton consider dimming the lights?
Yeah, it could look like an XFL game out there. UD has had considerably bad luck in the light-blues, going 0-2 in them last year. Personally, I want to spearhead the movement to switch back to the old uniforms. UD's current color scheme and logo are unoriginal and generic looking. I'm hopeful that there will be some support for reverting back to the Marian blue unis as fans get used to them.

Recently UNCG announced that it's moving all of its home games from tiny Fleming Gym to the Greensboro Coliseum which is less than a mile up the road from campus. The Flyers seem to always play in front of a full house and even the NCAA "play-in" game in Dayton looks full every year. Got any advice for us to start drawing in more people?
Here's the thing, when you upgrade to a bigger facility it has to be about more than basketball. You have to bring in some novelty acts to get people to come at first. If I was consulting UNCG, I would say have crappy hair bands from the 80s play concerts right after the game. You would be amazed at how many people will still come out to see Great White play their hit.

What do the Flyers need to do to prevent any thoughts of an upset?
With Dayton, it all begins and ends with defense. Their offense is mediocre at best. I would think forcing Greensboro into 20+ turnovers would almost guarantee a win for UD. I will say this, UD has a tendency to play a little sloppy in games right before Christmas break. I don't know if it's the fact that there are less fans in the arena, or if they would rather be somewhere else, but the Flyers have a history of underachievement in these type of games. In other words, it wouldn't shock me if this one was closer than Vegas thinks.

Damn, this record is broken

UNCG 62- Kent State 73

News & Record
Kent State

UNCG lead Kent State 32-29 at halftime, but was outscored 44-30 in the second half. I've had enough of this "let's kick ass for the first half and give you hope before we stink and crush your hope in the second half". I'm ready for a good first half effort to not be wasted. Maybe I'm hoping for too much. It was impressive how UNCG fought back from 20 down to make a game of it. At least they haven't thrown in the towel yet.

The Good:
- Elhanan Bone - 8 points and 10 rebounds. That's a stat line that I think every Spartan fan loves to see. Bone was a beast on the boards.
- Free throw shooting - 11-13 (84.6%) is a solid effort. If we'd have shot that well at Central Arkansas there might have been a different outcome.
- Kendall Toney - 14 points including a couple of big 3 pointers. It's good to see him play well against someone not named NC State.

The Bad:
- Turnovers (18) - Just when you think UNCG has a problem fixed, it re-appears. UNCG's first half turnovers didn't hurt them too bad. The miscues turned into fast break points in the second half, though.
- Shooting - 37.5% for the game (including 9-26 in the second half). UNCG ranks 327 in D1 (out of 343) in field goal percentage.

The Ugly:
- Second half performance.
The definition of "Beating a Dead Horse" from Wikipedia ...
"Beating a dead horse" is an idiom that means a particular
request or line of conversation is already foreclosed or otherwise resolved, and
any attempt to continue it is futile.
Yep, That's what I'm doing.

UNCG women win again

Since this blog is called UNCG basketball fan, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's just a men's basketball blog (although that is kind of what it is). However, it's time to show the women's team a little attention.

Last night, the Spartans beat Georgia Southern to win their fourth game in a row. They are still undefeated in conference play (3-0). All of this comes after finding out their team leader, Kristen Boone, had another season ending knee injury. However, it seems like the team has steadied themselves and are playing much better.

On the SoCon fans website, UNCG was listed as the highlight of the night. That's a nice change b/c our men's team has been the lowlight several times this year already.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

UNCG (1-6) @ Kent State (4-5)

When: Thursday, Dec 18 7 pm
Where: Memorial Athletic and Convocation (M.A.C.) Center (6,327)
TV: None

Kent State Athletics
NewsFlashes - Kent State Blog
Kent State Forum - NCAAbbs
Kent State Forum - Rivals

Spartan Notes:
- In their last game, UNCG was destroyed by East Carolina in Greenville (97-53). Montel Smith led the Spartans in scoring (11 pts) while Ben Stywall pulled down 10 boards. Sam Hinnant led seven Pirates in double figures with 18 points. UNCG was outscored 56-21 in the second half.
- Last season, Kent State held on late to defeat UNCG 71-64 in Fleming Gym. Mikko Koivisto led UNCG with 22 points. Mike Scott scored 15 for Kent State.
- The Spartans have now dropped 5 straight games.
- Mikko Koivisto is leading UNCG in scoring (13.7) and assists (2.6). Ben Stywall is the leading rebounder (8.9). The Spartans are averaging 17 turnovers per game. Nine players are averaging double figures in minutes played.
- For the season, UNCG is shooting 36.7% from the field, 27.1% from 3 point range and 62.9%from the free throw line.

Golden Flashes Notes:
- Kent State was the MAC tournament Champion and an NCAA tournament participant last season. They finished with a record of 28-6.
- Kent State defeated Youngstown State 82-74 in their last game. Al Fisher led three Kent State players in double figures with 20 points.
- My recap on of Kent State's wins/losses/RPI can be found here.
- Fisher (17.8 pts and 3.7 assists) and Chris Singletary (16.4 points and 3.1 assists) are the Golden Flashes best offensive weapons. Brandon Parks is leading Kent State in rebounds (6.4).
- For the year, Kent State is shooting 46% from the field, 30.3% from behind the arc and 62.6% from the free throw line.

My Thoughts:
When I sat down and put together a preview for the ECU game, the stats of that team just jumped off the page. Even though East Carolina had played several non-D1 teams, they just appeared to have a lot more firepower than the Spartans. I guess that I can say that it didn't come as much of a surprise that they whipped UNCG last Saturday night.

By that same token, there's not a whole lot from Kent State, statistics-wise, that jump out at me. They seem to be an average team that spreads a lot of their stats out. Their record indicates much of the same thing. They have a nice win over UNCW and took Illinios to overtime before eventually losing. Fisher appears to be the closest thing the Golden Flashes have to a star player. However, there seem to be a lot of solid role players.

To have a shot on Thursday, I could go down the same 'ol "laundry list" of things that UNCG must do well. Turnovers, free throw shooting, poor rebounding and foul trouble have all taken turns tripping up UNCG. But lately UNCG has just been awful after halftime. In all but the Charlotte game, the Spartans have been very competitive in the first half and then failed to make anything happen in the second half. That's got to change.

This road trip (@ Kent State 12/18 and @Dayton 12/20) through Ohio will be a homecoming for freshman Damian Eargle. Maybe he can elevate his game and help UNCG snap this 5 game skid.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Greensboro Classic and more

College of Charleston opened their new arena this season with a 3-day tournament featuring themselves, Clemson and several other other solid programs (Temple, TCU). That sparked up a discussion at UNCGfans forum. Would it be a good idea to put on a similar type tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum and invite some of the local area teams plus maybe an ACC school? Over the last few days a NC A&T fan has added to the discussion.

I've decided to add a poll to the blog just for my own interest to see if there would be support for a tournament/event. Feel free to vote and comment.

Also, WUAG (103.1 fm) is carrying Spartan basketball games throughout the holidays. You can find their schedule here. I'm always glad to see them carrying the games b/c their streaming is a lot better than WPET.

Here's an article from from Sunday's News & Record with more discussion on the move to the coliseum. Not a lot new in there, but it's got more of a positive tone.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Aaaarrrrgggg ?!?

UNCG 53 - East Carolina 97

UNCG Athletics
ECU Athletics
News & Observer

Halftime score ... ECU 41-UNCG 32. Second half score ... ECU 56-UNCG 21. We've seen this before. The telling stat is second half shooting percentage. UNCG 18.8% (6-32) and ECU 67.7% (21-31).

The Good:
- I'm honestly struggling to find anything good here. It was another solid first half effort. If they gave 1/2 wins for good first half performances, UNCG would have a good record. I don't know what Coach Dement is saying in locker room at the break but he needs to change it (hint: Watch Bull Durham).

The Bad:
- "Splash" page on UNCGSpartans.com. Can we just go ahead and take that down now. It was great to infuse a few days of excitement back into the basketball program. The slogan "On the rise" seems a little hollow right now.

The Ugly:
- Offense - 30.2% from the field, 19% from 3 point range and 61.1% from the free throw line. Mikko (9 pts), Stywall (4 pts) and Landon (0 pts) had a bad night.
- Defense - 59.7% from the field and 51.7% from 3 point range. Seven, SEVEN Pirates scored in double figures.

That's it. Wish I could come up with some great analysis as to what happened, but I've got nuthin'. Hopefully, the Spartans can just put it behind them and start to pull things together.

Friday, December 12, 2008

UNCG (1-5) @ East Carolina (7-1)

When: Saturday, Dec 13 7 pm
Where: Minges Coliseum (8,000)
TV: MASN (tape delayed)/ ChannelSurfing.net

ECU Athletics
ECU Forum (Scout)
ECU Forum (Rivals)

Spartan Notes:
- Last time out, the Spartans lost a televised game to College of Charleston (77-62) at Fleming Gym. Mikko Koivisto led UNCG with 17 points and Ben Stywall had 10 rebounds.
- UNCG has now used a different starting lineup in every one of its games. There are nine Spartans averaging double figures in minutes played.
- Koivisto is leading UNCG in scoring (14.5 pts) and assists (2.8). Ben Stywall is the leading rebounder (8.7)
- UNCG is shooting 37.9% from the field, 28.5% from 3 point range and 63.2% from the free throw line.

Pirate Notes:
- See my quick review of ECU's season here.
- ECU defeated Limestone 69-43 last Saturday at Minges Coliseum. James Leagan scored 14 points and Darrius Morrow had a double-double (12 pts & 10 rebs).
- There are 3 Pirates scoring in double figures. Sam Hinnant (17.4) is leading scorer. Morrow is the leading rebounding (8.4). Brock Young (8.1) is the leading in assists.
- ECU is shooting 47.3% from the field, 35.5% from 3 point range and 70.7% from the free throw line.

My Thoughts:
Before the season, I thought this game was one of the road games that UNCG might could steal. I don't know if that's the case anymore. Even though they have played 3 non-D1 teams, those stats are still quite impressive. The Pirates have beaten a couple of solid CAA teams.

I think that there was some obvious improvement from the Citadel game to the CofC game last week. UNCG did a lot of things in the first half against the Cougars that it will need to repeat to have any shot in Greenville on Saturday.

The Spartans will need to continue to improve on their free throw shooting and rebounding. Also, the guards have got to start making some shots.

With the students gone and NC State (who ECU beat last year) coming up this week, ECU may be looking past UNCG. Let's hope so.

Go Spartans !!!

EDIT: UNCGSpartans.com is reporting that the game is no longer going to be shown in MASN. It is still listed on ChannelSurfing.net.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


I promised I'd give this topic it's own blog entry and here it is. First, here are some of the articles.

UNCG Athletics

Here is the main quote from both articles ...

"With the partnership, ISP will work with the Department of Athletics’ staff
to market a variety of corporate sponsorship opportunities involving Spartan
Athletics, including live play-by-play game radio broadcasts and call-in shows,
various athletic department publications, signage in on-campus facilities,
corporate hospitality events and the official website of the department,
www.uncgspartans.com. "

I have not been a huge fan of the way that UNCG has marketed its basketball program. I love that UNCG has realized that they need help and partnered with ISP. ISP is the same company that partnered with UCLA and then proceeded to call out USC in the LA Times. That's the kind of "moxie" that I hope they bring to UNCG. There's a reason why this company has athletics departments teaming up with them in huge numbers. Hopefully, being located in the triad will give them a unique perspective on this market and how to attack our problems.

I think it's ridiculous that I live 30 miles away from campus and can't hear a Spartan basketball game on the radio. Meanwhile, I can easily find an App State or High Point game. ISP is going to have to use it's connections to fix this problem. There needs to be a UNCG flagship station with a strong signal, or maybe more than one station carrying the games. Part of the reason for this problem is market demand. Radio stations make decisions based on their bottom line. Whatever station Spartan games end up on, it's up to us fans to tune in, send appreciative emails and do business with its sponsors. I think that last one is true for all aspects of UNCG athletics not just radio broadcasts. Fans need to show their patronage to companies that financially support athletics.

Moving into the Greensboro Coliseum means that there will now be a lot of extra seats to fill. Putting the meager 1,300 people that UNCG is currently drawing into the ~7,600 seats will look just plain dumb. The draw has got to be bigger. UNCG has to reach out to more of the alumni living in the triad or within driving distance. If you were to take a census of the crowd at Fleming Gym for a basketball game, I think you'd find that a large majority are students. This is to be expected. But I think the second largest group would be alumni/fans over the age of 40. It's important to get the group of alumni that fall in between those 2 groups involved and interested in what's going on with the university (and it's basketball program). Those people might not buy season tickets, but may come to 3 or 4 games. Those people might start talking about UNCG basketball in their offices or with their friends. Those people might skip watching an ACC game on ESPN to catch a Spartans game on FSN. This is going to be a several year process, and I think that UNCG is missing a huge opportunity with that group of potential fans. I can't say that I've got any brilliant ideas on how to get them involved. I'll leave that to the people that get paid to make that happen.

I'm not sure if ISP can make any changes to the problems listed. I have no idea what they have in mind for UNCG. I'd like to think that they see some of the same things. However, I feel better having them involved in our basketball program.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Charleston Sweep of UNCG

UNCG 62 - College of Charleston 77

News & Record
Charleston Post & Courier
College of Charleston

The Spartans played their best half of basketball on Saturday. They followed it up with one of their worst. The Spartans took a 40-36 lead into the locker room. However, CofC owned the second half (41-22).

Since I didn't really do much of a recap after the Citadel game, this is going to just be more of some of my major thoughts of both games. I'm not going to bother discussing major negatives b/c I think we're moving towards "moral victory" territory.

- Damian Eargle was ineligible for the Citadel game, and UNCG was outrebounded 37-30. He was back for the CofC game and UNCG outrebounded the Cougars 35-31. These two thing could be completely unrelated. I doubt it, though.
- Elhanan Bone is really starting to look more comfortable and his stats are showing it (8 pts & 6 rebs - Citadel, 12 pts & 5 rebs - CofC). If Bone can average 10 & 7 guy the rest of this year, the Spartans will be competitive in a lot of games.
- Even with the disappointing early season play, the crowds at Fleming Gym have been nice. Not "sell-out" nice, but enough to generate a fun atmosphere. The crowds will have to get larger an more vocal next year, though.
- Daniel Oliver has been a good spark off of the bench. In both games, he's brought a sense of urgency on the court with him. He's also looked to take a few more shots and made some of them.
- UNCG shot free throws well in these two games. 12-14 against CofC and 7-9 against the Citadel.
- UNCG played very good free throw defense. The Citadel made just 7-13 and CofC missed all of their 11 attempts.
*** I am not going negative here. While this was might come off as an underhanded shot at UNCG, it's not. I'm actually cracking on CofC. That's an unbelievable stat (0-11). If the Cougars plan on really competing with Davidson, they better get the problem corrected in a hurry.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

College of Charleston (6-1) @ UNCG (1-4)

When: Saturday, Dec 6 3 pm
Where: Fleming Gym (2,320)
TV: SportSouth

College of Charleston Athletics
College of Charleston Forum

Spartan Notes:
- UNCG fell to the Citadel Thursday night, 57-50. Landon Clement scored 15 and Ben Stywall pulled down 10 boards. UNCG managed to shoot an unbelievable 17.2% from 3 point range (5-29). The Bulldogs also out rebounded UNCG by 7 (37-30). UNCG turned the ball over just 8 times.
- Mikko Koivisto (14.0) and Landon Clement (10.8) are scoring in double figures. Koivisto is leading UNCG in assists (3.0), and Ben Stywall is averaging 8.4 rebounds.
- UNCG has used 5 different starting lineups in 5 games.
- Last year, UNCG won 88-71 in Charleston. The Spartans prevailed 75-67 in the return game at Fleming Gym.

Cougar Notes:
- CofC won at Elon on Thursday night, 77-69. Andrew Goudelock scored 19 points for the Cougars.
- CofC already has wins against South Carolina and TCU. Their lone loss came to Temple in the semi-finals of the Charleston Classic. The Cougars are 3-1 at home, 3-0 on the road and they've won five 5 straight games.
- Goudelock (18.0 pts) leads 5 players scoring in double figures. He also is their assist leader (3.4). Jermaine Johnson is the Cougars leading rebounder (8.6).
- On the season, CofC is shooting 49.3% from the field, 41% from 3 points range and 66.2% from the free throw line. 6 CofC players have positive assist-to-turnover ratios.

My Thoughts:
With everything going on yesterday, I haven't had much time to research the Cougars. However, when you look at their stats you can see that this is one of the best teams in the SoCon. UNCG will need to take care of the ball again today. As bad as the Spartans were on Thursday night, they were a couple of 3's away from stealing a win. UNCG will need to shoot a higher percentage. Damian Eargle will have to get out of Coach Dement's doghouse and back to being productive on the court.

Hopefully, the Spartans can have a good showing on TV and gain some confidence moving forward.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Happy Blue & Gold Day

I started writing this blog for a couple of reason. Some of those I have already talked about in a previous post. One that I didn't point out was that I really thought that big things were going to happen at my alma mater and I really wanted to keep up with them.

After last night's tough loss, (and what is turning into a tough season) Spartan fans need something to feel good about. Today came some news that UNCG fans, students and alumni can get excited about. I posted a quick blurb about the possibility of a UNCG move to the Greensboro Coliseum yesterday. During a noon press conference, all of this was confirmed.

Article Links:
- News & Record (yesterday)
- News & Record (today)
- University Homepage
- Athletics Homepage
- News & Observer (Raleigh)

You can watch the press conference on demand on Spartan all-access. Here's what I took away from watching.

- Linda Brady gets it. I have no idea where this woman came from, but I'm glad she's here. She understands that athletic success plays a huge role on the image of the university itself and the pride that the alumni take in the school. This woman has a big vision for UNCG and I like it. Hearing her speak just fires me up. Please go give some halftime speeches.
- Fred Barakat is going to deliver us a #1 in strength of schedule. He made it quite clear that we're going to have 4-5 ACC games on our schedule (home and away) and games against A10, CAA and CUSA teams.
- The coliseum is going to try very hard to make this a home court for the Spartans. I really like the idea of cutting the seating down to ~7,300. Also, I like that the floor will have UNCG's logos and locker rooms.

My concerns are over some of the ticketing and pricing issues. I really hope that the UNCG administration understands not to bite the hand that's already feeding it. I think everyone is aware that prices will change, but it can't be that dramatic. The parking prices will have to be reasonable also. Right now, I can park on campus for free and go to the game $10. UNCG can't change that to $15 tickets and $5 parking and expect all of the fans that follow them now to just move down the street with them too.

Right now, UNCG's season tickets were priced in some of the oddest ways possible. I could buy a walk-up ticket to every game and pay the same price that I would if I'd have bought season tickets a month ago. There's no reward for buying all games early. Plus, you could (and I did) buy a SoCon ticket package for $75. That's easily the best deal they offered this year. I hope they offer a reward to UNCG fans that buy season tickets next year. Give a 25% break in the full price and offer some kind of season parking pass for a reasonable price. That means that when 5,000 NC State fans buy their tickets the day of the game, they won't be sitting court side and will pay more than your loyal Spartan fans. Plus, selling these season tickets assures UNCG of nice crowds when we're not playing ACC schools.

I like the idea of selling beer at the games. It will get casual fans from the Greensboro community interested in attending games. Case in point, my wife has said repeatedly that she'd love to go to basketball games with me as long as she could drink. Now this really says more about my behavior at games than anything else, but you get the point.

Also I hope the administration and coliseum officials get the students involved by putting them in the first 2-3 rows all the way around the court, or let them have the risers right behind the baskets. That's how you get a home court advantage. Also, have the full band there for all of the games.

UNCG also hired ISP to do their sports marketing. I'll have to devote an entire upcoming post to this move because it might be the best news of the day.

Happy Blue & Gold Day !!!

Not the best way to start

UNCG 50 - The Citadel 57

There's a ton going on with the Spartan basketball team today, and I'm really swamped at work. So, I'm really just going to link to some game stories. I'll put up a more detailed review after the second half of the "Low Country Double Header".

I'll also be back with a full recap on all of the days events ...

News & Record
Charleston Post & Courier
The Citadel

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Be sure to bring some bubble wrap to the game tonight

According to this News & Record article, the UNCG men's basketball team will now be calling the Greensboro Coliseum home starting in the 2009-2010 season.

Also, UNCG has hired Fred Barakat to serve as a scheduling consultant. One would assume that his job will be to get well known teams to play the Spartans in Greensboro.

There is a news conference scheduled for noon on Friday. I'll wait until after then to post most of my thoughts. I will say that I'm impressed with the new chancellor and her vision. Hopefully it will be executed very well.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Citadel (4-3) @ UNCG (1-3)

When: Thursday, Dec. 4 7 pm
Where: Fleming Gym (2,320)
TV: None/ All-Access

Citadel Athletics
Citadel Forum

Spartan Notes:
- Last time out, UNCG lost to NC State 79-52 at the RBC Center in Raleigh. Kendall Toney scored 16 points and pulled down 8 boards. Freshman Damian Eargle chipped in 10 points. UNCG trailed by just 11 at the half. However, a 16-4 Wolfpack spurt after the break squashed any thoughts of a Spartan upset.
- 9 UNCG scholarship players (out of 10) have seen action in all 4 games this season. Eight of those players are averaging double figures in minutes played.
- UNCG has used a different starting lineup for all 4 games.
- Only one player is averaging double figures in points. Mikko Koivisto leads the team in points (15.8) and assists (3.3). Ben Stywall leads UNCG in rebounding (8.0).
- As a team, UNCG is shooting 39.7% from the field, 32% from 3 point range and 58.2% from teh free throw line.
- The Spartans defeated the Bulldogs twice last season. UNCG won 84-54 at Fleming Gym. Kyle Hines led UNCG with 22 and Austin Dahn led the Bulldogs with 19. UNCG won 74-63 in the return game in Charleston. This time Ben Stywall led UNCG in scoring (21 pts), but Austin Dahn again led the Bulldogs (17 pts).

Bulldog Notes:
- The Citadel are coming off a 55-41 win over Grambling State in Cancun, Mexico. Cameron Wells had a double-double (10 pts and 14 rebs). The Bulldogs went 12-26 from 3 point range (46.2%).
- UNCG and The Citadel have played one common opponent so far this year, Central Arkansas. UNCG lost to the Bears 73-60 in Conway. The Citadel lost 58-53 in Cancun, Mexico.
-The Bulldogs are led in points (16.9) and rebounds (6.6) by Cameron Wells. Zach Urbanus is their leading assist man (2.6).
- For the season, the Bulldogs are shooting 43.5% from the field, 32.3% from 3 point range and 72.7% from the free throw line.
- The Citadel has beat Grace Bible, Cincinnati Christian, Charleston Southern and Grambling State. The Bulldogs lost to VCU, Iowa and Central Arkansas. The Citadel is 0-1 on the road, 2-1 at home and 2-1 in neutral site games.

My Thoughts:
News Flash --- UNCG isn't going to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. The Spartans will have to make some noise in the SoCon in order to play somewhere in the postseason.

Ok, here it is. This is a home game against a team that was picked to finish basically last by the coaches and media. But here's the tricky part ... they're not quite as bad as predicted. Unlike UNCG, they have won a game against a D1 program. They have played 7 games already and they have shown signs of playing well. Last year, this team started 5 freshmen. Thus, these guys have played together quite a bit. However, this will be only their second true road game.

UNCG is going to have to do several things in order to be successful. They are going to have to play off the crowd energy. They are going to have to protect the basketball. They are going to have to step up and make free throws. They are going to have to play smart, hard-nosed defense without getting into foul trouble.

It's time to start seeing some real improvement out of this team. The games are coming weeks apart right now. Hopefully, this means the guys are getting plenty of time to watch film and then work on things they are seeing. With the conference opener here now, it's time for things to start coming together. We can't start behind the 8-ball ... with a home loss.

Go Spartans !!!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Seeing Red

UNCG 52 - NC State 79

News & Record
News & Observer
NC State

A 16-4 run after the halftime took what had been a competitive game and turned into a rout. UNCG whittled down a 17 point Wolfpack lead down to 11 by the half, but got no closer. Courtney Fells had 22 points and Ben McCauley had a double-double (17 pts and 15 rebs) for NC State. Damian Eargle scored 10 fro UNCG.

The Good:
- Kendall Toney - If NC State were on the team on UNCG's schedule, Kendall Toney would go down as the greatest player ever at UNCG. Toney led UNCG in points (16) and rebounds (8). After not playing particularly well in his first three games this season, maybe this will get Kendall going and playing with a high level of confidence.
- Turnovers - After turning the ball over a ton in the first 3 games (20+), UNCG limited it's turnovers to 13. However, 4 of them came in the second half spurt that knocked the Spartans out.

The Bad:
- "Paging Landon Clement" - UNCG could really use the version of you that came out firing to start the year.
- Assists - UNCG had 8, compared to NC State's 22. Part of this is based on the fact that NC State made more baskets. However, part of it is that UNCG's offense doesn't look good at all .. all leading back to the point guard issues that have been plaguing the team.

The Ugly:
- UNCG's record falls to 1-3 for the year. That's not completely unexpected. 2-2 would be better, but the team has played 3 road games and 1 home game. This team is young. Young teams tend to struggle on the road. But a 27-point loss to an ACC team that isn't supposed to be a great team hurts. If this NC State team beats Davidson next weekend, then this doesn't look quite as ugly. However, I really wish the Spartans would have been more competitive.

Other blog recaps:
Section Six
850 the Buzz

Thursday, November 27, 2008

UNCG (1-2) @ NC State (3-0)

When: Sunday, Nov. 30 2 pm
Where: RBC Center (19,722)
TV: None/ACC Select

NC State Athletics
NC State Forum
NC State Blog - Section Six
NC State Blog - State Fans Nation

Spartan Notes:
- UNCG is coming off a 73-60 loss at Central Arkansas on Saturday. Mikko Koivisto scored 24 points and Ben Stywall had 8 rebounds. It was the third straight game for UNCG with 20+ turnovers. Also, UNCG shot just 50% (12-24) from the free throw line. Landon Clement was held scoreless.
- Mikko Koivisto leads UNCG in scoring (18.0 points) and assists (3.0). Ben Stywall leads the team in rebounding (8.3).
- On the year, UNCG is shooting 41.6% from the field, 36.7% from 3 point range and 60.6 % from the free throw line. The Spartans are averaging an amazing 23.7 turnovers a game.
- In their last meeting, NC State defeated the Spartans in overtime (95-93). The game took place on January 2, 2007. Kyle Hines led UNCG with 27 points as the Spartans hit a school record 18 three pointers. Ben McCauley led the Wolfpack with 26 points.

Wolfpack Notes:
- The Wolfpack crushed Winthrop 74-48 in their last outing. NC State was led by Ben McCauley (15 pts and 11 rebs) but had three other players in double figures.
- NC State lost 2 starters from last years squad ... JJ Hickson (declared for the draft) and Gavin Grant (graduation). Grant hit a three pointer 2 years ago to send the game against the Spartans into overtime.
- There are 3 Wolfpack players averaging in double figures ... Ben McCauley(14.7) , Courtney Fells (14.0) and Brandon Costner (13.3). Costner (7.7) and McCauley (7.3) are the leading rebounders.
-On the year NC State is shooting 44.5% from the field, 34.5% from 3 point range and 74.6% from the free throw line. They are averaging a meager 9.7 turnovers a game and have 5 players with a positive assist-to-turnover ratio.

My Thoughts:
NC State lost a lot of "star power" when JJ Hickson left for the NBA. However, they have a lot a quality players returning. The Wolfpack big men have some interesting skill sets. Ben McCauley is a tremendous passer with a knack for find open shooters. Brandon Costner can shoot from all over the court. Reserve F/C Tracy Smith is the closest thing NC State has to a traditional low post player.

NC State's "lock down" defender, Courtney Fells, will probably stay with Mikko the entire game. Fells' size (6'4") and athleticism tend to bother most guards that he's called upon to shut down. Hopefully Mikko's size (6'4") will keep that from being a problem.

The one area where NC State is thin is at PG. Reserve PG Farnold Degand is re-injured after returning from a season ending ACL tear last season. Unfortunately, UNCG's troubles at this position are also well documented. It might be to the Spartans advantage to play a more controlled pace b/c none of the guards seem to value the basketball.

I do think that this will be the first time this season that UNCG can play lineups without worrying about size match ups. Mikko, Ben, Kendall and Landon can all be on the court at the same time against most NC State lineup combos.

NC State is not a particularly tall team and is not known (lately) for its rebounding. UNCG will need to do well in rebounding in order to stay competitive. Also, the Spartans must limit their turnovers or this game could get ugly in a hurry.

In the end, the Spartans need to play well and gain some confidence. A win is not exactly necessary, but they do need to stay in the game to feel like they can compete on the road. Three years ago, the Spartans were hammered in back-to-back games against @NC State and @Duke and a promising season spiraled out of control. UNCG needs to avoid a similar outcome.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The rest of the OOC schedule

Just figured I'd put up some info on the other 6 of UNCG's out-of-conference opponents. These are current as I write this post. I'll try to update it every few days. So, check back often. All of my RPI numbers come from RealtimeRPI.

*Red - Where they were when UNCG lost to them.
*Green - Where they were when UNCG defeated them.

NC State (3-0)
Current RPI: 227
Wins: @ New Orleans, High Point, Winthrop.
Losses: None.

East Carolina (7-1)
Current RPI: 126
Wins: Coker, St. Andrews, Campbell, VCU, @Winthrop, @UNCW, Limestone.
Losses: George Mason.

Kent St (4-5)
Current RPI: 216
Wins: NC Central, St. Louis, UNCW, Youngstown St.
Losses: Illinois, Texas A&M, @Kansas, St. Mary's, Western Carolina.

Dayton (9-1)
Current RPI: 36
Wins: Wofford, Deleware St, Bethune-Cookman, Mercer, Auburn, Marquette, Troy St., @Akron, Coppin State.
Losses: @Creighton.

Akron (7-4)
Current RPI: 102
Wins: Canisius, Winthrop, Urbana, @Niagra, @Fairleigh Dickinson, NC A&T St. Francis (NY).
Losses: @ Pitt, Eastern Kentucky, Dayton, @VCU.

Princeton (2-8)
Current RPI: 323
Wins: @ Army, @Fordham.
Losses: Maine, Central Michigan, South Carolina, @St. Bonnie, Rutgers, Manhattan, Central Conn State, Lafayette.

Last updated: 12/30/08

Monday, November 24, 2008

Well, that certainly wasn't pleasant

UNCG 60 - Central Arkansas 73

News & Record
Central Arkansas

I've given myself a couple of days to think about this game and it's still really bad. UNCG was thoroughly beaten (don't let the score fool you) by a program that was transitioning to D1. Even "Baghdad Bob" couldn't spin this train wreck.

The Good:
- No comment - I'm sure I could find some moral victory things to put here. Things like: UNCG outrebounded UCA (34 to 30), or Mikko Koivisto scored in double figures (24 pts) for the third straight game. But I choose to highlight nothing.

The Bad:
- I had to listen to this game on the Central Arkansas radio network via WUAG's live stream over the internet. The play-by-play guy was flat out terrible. He referred to UNCG as "North Carolina" a half dozen or so times and then shortened it to just "Carolina" for the rest of the game. Also it was quite difficult to keep up with game action over the constant recaps of how UCA won a football game and the Sugar Bears won a women's basketball game. Just stick to telling me what's going on directly in front of your face, please. I basically had to follow the game by the sounds made by the crowd in the background. Also, WUAG's announcements during game breaks were pretty lame. Someone needs to get a memo out to the activists on UNCG's campus that we're not Cal-Berkeley.
- Landon Clement - UNCG's leading scorer was 0-3 from the field with 3 turnovers.

The Ugly:
- Turnovers - 22. Third straight game where the Spartans turned the ball over like it was their job (20+ times). This team will struggle to win more than 5 games this year unless they start taking care of the basketball. Maybe the guys should consider walking it up the court a couple of times each half.
- Free throw shooting - I haven't been impressed with this aspect of the Spartans so far this year, and against UCA it really hurt (12-24). Hit those other 12 and it's a 1 point game. Ben Stywall's 2 misses with UCA's lead down to 9 were killers.

There's not much to say about this game. The guys must start to show some improvement soon or this season will really get away from them.

Friday, November 21, 2008

G on TV

UNCG just got 2 more of its games scheduled as TV games. The Dec. 13th game at East Carolina will now be shown on MASN. For people like me with Time Warner Cable, this won't matter much. Even though several lower courts have found that Time Warner must start providing MASN, TWC still refuses and is appealing the decisions. If you've got DirecTV, let me know how the game goes.

UNCG's January 3rd meeting at Princeton is going to be carried on ESPNU. This makes me really happy that TWC at least put this channel on the digital package last year. I've always wondered with all of the mid and low major basketball being played all over the counrty, why ESPNU doesn't have wall-to-wall programing going on during basketball season. Hopefully, this is something that network plans on doing a lot of in the future. Maybe they'll do it for college baseball too.

I'm also happy just b/c this gets the Spartan basketball program in the living rooms of many possible recruits. Even though MASN isn't available in the triad, it is on DirecTV nationwide. I think this has something to do with the "ripple down" effect of Davidson's elite 8 run last year. Hopefully, more mid-major programs can make big runs in March to show the people who put together sports programming that there is plenty of good basketball available for TV.

*** By the way, there were already two UNCG games that were scheduled to be on TV - College of Charleston @ Fleming Gym (Dec. 6) and Elon @ Fleming Gym (Feb. 28) - on SportSouth.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Oh, the horror

It has been a pretty brutal start to the year for the SoCon. Let's review what has happened after the first week or so of the season. Right now Real Time RPI has the SoCon at 21st and Ken Pomroy has it at 23rd.

North Division:

Chattanooga (0-2) - The Mocs have a very tough early season schedule and it has showed so far. They have been blown out by Tennessee and Missouri and have to play national runner-up Memphis next.

Western Carolina (0-1) - Beaten by 26 @ #2 UConn.

Samford (1-1) - Lost by 18 to Belmont, beat Spring Hill by 20.

Elon (1-1) - Destroyed by West Virginia and destroyed Southern Virginia.

App State (1-1) - This may be a tough team to gauge. They lost on the road to a UNCW team that was supposed to be down, and won at home against a good Charlotte team in double overtime.

UNCG (1-1) - We've gone over this.

South Division:

Davidson (2-1) - Blew out Guilford and James Madison and then lost a close game at Oklahoma. Stephen Curry is averaging a meager 35.3 points per game.

College of Charleston (2-1) - The Cougars finished 3rd in their own tournament beating SIU-E and TCU and losing to Temple.

Wofford (0-2) - Lost by 3 @ Dayton and 53 @ Clemson.

Ga Southern (2-2) - They went 1-1 in Durham and 1-1 since then.

Furman (1-1) - They beat Emory and lost @ Charleston Southern.

The Citadel (1-1) - Beat Grace Bible and were hammered by VCU.

Totals (12-15) with a lot of wins against non-D1 teams. A quick glance says that the best wins were Houston (GSU), Charlotte (ASU), James Madison (DC) and TCU (CofC).

UNCG (1-1) @ Central Arkansas (1-1)

When: Saturday, Nov. 22 7:30 pm cst (8:30 pm est)
Where: Farris Center (5,500)
TV: None

Central Arkansas Athletics

Spartan Notes:
- The Spartans won their last game, against NAIA member Webber International, in a very unconvincing fashion. The bright spots were Landon Clement's 26 points and Mikko Koivisto's 18 points. Ben Stywall had a double-double (12 pts and 10 rebs).
- 11 of the 12 eligible players on UNCG's roster have played in the first 2 games. Mike Hardiman played in the season opener against Charlotte, but didn't appear against Webber International. All 10 scholarship players are averaging over 10 minutes per game.
- UNCG leaders ... Landon Clement 19.5 points, Ben Stywall 8.5 rebounds & Mikko Koivisto 3 assists.
- Only one player has a positive assist/turnover ratio ... Mikko Koivisto 3/1.
- UNCG is shooting 42% (36% from 3 point range) from the field and 66% from the free throw line.
- UNCG defeated Central Arkansas 80-62 in Fleming Gym last year. The Spartans were led by Kevin Oleksiak (28 pts) and Kyle Hines (18 pts and 12 rebs). Mikko Koivisto sat the game out with a sore ankle, but Kendall Toney scored 10 points in his place. Nate Bowie scored 20 for the Bears.

Bear Notes:
- Central Arkansas (Conway, Arkansas) is from the Southland Conference and is in year 3 of transition to D1. They are not yet eligible to win their conference.
- The Bears are 1-1 on the season after losing on the road to Northwestern and winning at against home Bacone College. Marcus Pillow scored 19 points for UCA against Bacone and 13 points against Northwestern. Brian Marks pulled down 12 boards in the Bacone game.
- Marcus Pillow leads Central Arkansas in scoring (16 pts) and assists (2). Mitch Rueter is also scoring in double digits (11.5 pts). Marks is averaging 9 rebounds per game, including 6 offensive.
- On the season, the Bears are shooting 36% from the field and 23% from 3 point range.

My Thoughts:
If the Spartans are going to finish at .500 or better, this is a game they need to win. Yes, it's a road game. But it's at a transitioning school that UNCG beat soundly a year ago in Greensboro. With more road games than home games, UNCG has got to get some wins on the road. Might as well start Saturday night in Conway.

Northwestern held UCA to 25% shooting in the first game. If, UNCG can play solid, 40-minute defense, they'll have a good chance. The Spartans have shown that they can play good defense at times in both of their first 2 games. Hopefully they put it together for a full game.

Pillow appears to be a very capable scorer, and Marks looks like a good rebounder. UNCG big men are going to have to do a better job on the glass or they are going to give up lots of offensive rebounds. The guys are going to have to be strong and decisive with the ball.

For the second straight game, I'm going to make this point. UNCG needs to get some kind of substitution pattern started in this game. There's not much I can add at this point that I haven't already stated.

Hopefully, all of these things can come together and UNCG can return with road victory #1.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A win is a win

UNCG 90 - Webber International 78

News & Record
Webber International

The best thing I can say about this game is that can be remembered simply as a win. It wasn't pretty or dominating. So, let's move on.

The Good
- Landon Clement - had 26 points and 3 steals. He flat out shoots the ball with extreme confidence now. It looks like it's going in every time.
- Mikko Koivisto - had 18 points and 4 assists. He even spent some time bringing the ball up the court. Not sure how great that strategy will be going forward, but it didn't look too bad last night.
- Rebounding - UNCG out rebounded Webber 48-36 (including 19-10 offensive).
- Student turn out - It appeared that the entire student section was full and loud.

The Bad
- PG play - 16 assists/25 turnovers. Also no one has really taken hold of that position
- Substitution patterns - Let's just say I don't really see any kind of pattern. There were times that you could look at the court and wonder where points were going to come from.

The Ugly
- Post play - Webber didn't have a player taller than 6'7" and UNCG's big men didn't look very good. Nobody really made strong moves with the ball and there was way too much falling away from the basket. This will need to get better against taller and stronger teams.
- Defense - Webber shot 41% (same as Charlotte on Friday) but shot 8-18 (44%) from 3 point range. I made the statement that Charlotte had open shots and just missed them. Webber hit most of their open looks. If this doesn't get better quick, Stephen Curry could drop 60 on the Spartans.

In the end, this game goes down as a "W". I think the team was better than it was on Friday night, and I guess that's really what it's all about right now ... getting better.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Webber International (4-1) @ UNCG (0-1)

When: Monday, Nov. 17 7:00 pm
Where: Fleming Gym (2,320)
TV: None/UNCG All-Access

Webber International Athletics

Spartan Notes:
- The Spartans fell to Charlotte (77-59) Friday night. Landon Clement had 13 points and Mikko Koivisto had 12 and 2 assists. Ben Stywall had 7 rebounds and 2 assists.
- UNCG shot 38.5% (20-52) from the field, 35% (7-20) from 3 point range and 75% (12-16) from the free throw line.
- All 10 scholarship players got into the game within the first 10 minutes of the game. Even walk-ons Mike Hardiman and Sean Spooner made brief first half appearances.
- This is the first home game for the Spartans. Last year, UNCG went 10-2 at Fleming Gym.

Warrior Notes:
- The Warriors are a NAIA team from Babson Park, Florida. They are part of the Sun Conference.
- Webber International is coming off a 96-91 loss to Ave Maria University on Friday. Halston Schaffer led the way with 21 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists.

My Thoughts:
Doing research on the Warriors was an interesting task. I'd advise everyone to go over to their website and read a recap story. Good luck. It appears they have several capable scorers. Schaffer looks like their best all-around player.

Now let me say, there is no reason that UNCG should be playing an NAIA team in the regular season. If they wanted to play an NAIA team, it should have taken place as an exhibition game. This is unfortunate for the fans that want to see good college basketball. That is not a knock on Webber International. They appear to have a nice squad. However, they should be playing other NAIA teams in the southeast and the Spartans should be playing D1 teams. Heck, there are 3 within a 30 minute drive of campus.

Having said that ... the game is on the schedule. So, go win it and do it in convincing fashion. Don't get frustrated if it's not a 30 point game right off the bat. Just play a normal game and pull away. This game should be more about UNCG getting better at playing together and playing within themselves. The last thing that needs to happen is for this game to be close in the second half and guys to start getting tight.

I would like to see a less crazy substitution pattern for this game than the Charlotte game. It seemed like every break during first half that there would be 2 or 3 new players enter the game. I assume that some of this was coach Dement just trying combinations to see what worked. Hopefully he's paired down the rotations a little bit.

The big men need to do a better job of playing defense without fouling. Webber doesn't have a player taller than 6'7". So this should be where the Spartans can assert themselves. I would like to see the guards take care of the ball, gain some confidence and run the offense offense smoothly. There is talent at this position. The guys just need to try to do a little less.

In the end, this game will probably be close for part of the first half. The size and depth of a D1 program versus a NAIA program should allow the Spartans to pull away for a win. It should be by a large margin. In the end, let's just win and move forward.

Go Spartans !!!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

If at first you don't succeed ... try, try, try, try, try, try again

Charlotte 77- UNCG 59

- News & Record
- Charlotte Observer
- Charlotte

Early in the second half, a Charlotte player missed a point blank shot. However, in what was a microcosm for the entire game, 49ers players proceeded to rebound and shoot the ball 6 more times before finally converting. The Spartans got Charlotte to play the kind of ugly game that it needed to have a chance. They just couldn't grab the ball, figuratively and literally.

It was a disappointing, yet not unexpected result. UNCG had lost too much to simply go down to Charlotte and knock off a good team. But it wasn't all bad. Landon had 13 points and Mikko had 12. The guys did quite a few nice things. And let's not forget, this is a Charlotte team that should go to the NCAA tournament. Lamont Mack (18 pts, 10 rebs) is a big time player. However, some of this game was them not playing well either, but I'll get to that ...<>

The Good
- Landon Clement - The Blue-White game was not an aberration. He stepped up and took his shots with confidence and made quite a few of them (3-6 from deep). After a bad shot that resulted in an air ball, he was harassed by the student section badly for the rest of the game. But still made a few more shots. It was obvious the crowd was getting to him, though.
- Montel Smith - He looked the part of the starting PG that UNCG desperately needs. His stat line wasn't all that special (2 pts, 2 rebs, 1 ast) but it was the fact that he got the ball down the court and got the team in an offense. No one else that ran the point looked nearly as good.
- Defense - UNCG held Charlotte to 41% shooting and 4-18 from 3 point range. The match up zone (not sure if it was 2-3 or 1-3-1) that the Spartans used for much of the game was pretty effective. All-in-all it was a good defensive effort. However, Charlotte missed a ton of wide-open shots. I've not seen a team miss that many shots with no one around them. So, I don't think you can attribute all of Charlotte's offensive problems to UNCG defense.
- Rebounding - I know, UNCG got beat on the boards 37-28. Let me point out again that Charlotte got 6 of those on one trip down the floor. Other than that, I thought Ben Stywall did a respectable job. As the first post-Hines game, it wasn't too bad.

The Bad
- Post play - Except for a few nice second half plays from Bone, the UNCG big men looked massively overwhelmed. And it seemed like anyone that checked into the game in the 4 or 5 spots got whistled for a foul immediately. That's got to get better quick.
- PG play - 7 assists/23 turnovers.
- The Score - UNCG lost by 18. It felt like 30 watching from home. Other than a 5 minute run in the second half, this game wasn't really competitive.

The Ugly
- Intentional foul - That was a bad and dangerous play made by Eargle. He's got to let that play go and not compound one mistake with another one. I agreed with his frustration. Something should have been called on that play. But UNCG needed him on the court.
- Shot selection - Landon and Mikko are going to score 9-15 points every game. They let their shots come within the offense. Everyone else forced too many shots. UNCG shot themselves out of their run by taking two bad 3 pointers.

All-in-all I think that this game will provide some film that the guys will use to get better on Monday.

Go Spartans !!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

UNCG (0-0) @ Charlotte (0-0)

When: Friday, Nov. 14 8:00 pm
Where: Halton Arena (9,000)
TV: None

Charlotte Athletics
Charlotte Forum

Spartan Notes:
- The Spartans return 2 starters from a team (19-13) that finished 3rd in the North division of the SoCon.
- UNCG was picked to finish 4th in the North division by both the coaches and media. No Spartan player was single out for any individual or all-conference honors.
- The graduation losses were pretty significant. The starting back court and Kyle Hines are now gone.
- As opposed to playing any exhibition games, UNCG opted to play closed door scrimmages against NC A&T and South Carolina (according to the N&R) or Winthrop (according to the athletics website).
- Landon Clement scored 19 points in the annual Blue-White game. Freshman Damien Eargle scored 14 and Mikko Koivisto scored 16 in the game (2 15-minute halves).

49er Notes:
- The Charlotte 49ers were picked to finish 5th by the A-10 media and coaches.
- Senior Forward Lamont Mack was tabbed 2nd team all-conference.
- The 49ers return 4 starters from last year's squad (20-14) that finished 4th in the A-10.
- Charlotte beat Pfeiffer 122-85 in an exhibition game last week. 4 of the 5 starters scored in double figures, but reserve Ian Andersen led the way with 24. The 49ers shot a ridiculous 57% (16-28) from 3 point range. They out rebounded Pfeiffer 46-39.
- During an exhibition trip to Canada, Charlotte scored over 100 points in 3 of 4 games.

My Thoughts:
This is an interesting game b/c I feel like these two programs should be playing often in several different sports (i.e. baseball). However, this may be a bad year to open with the 49ers in basketball. I really feel like as the season goes on, UNCG is going to get better. Maybe a lot better. As for the first game, though, it may be ugly. Having 3 new starters, one likely to be a freshman, is not a recipe for winning in a hostile environment.

I'm expecting this game to be a high number of possessions game. I'm also expecting UNCG to shoot a huge number of 3 pointers. In order for the Spartans to be successful, they are going to have to turn this game into an ugly "turnover fest" and hit a high percentage of their 3's. They're also going to need to play solid perimeter defense. Keeping close with the 49ers on the boards is almost a must.

While all of those are some big "if's", the major thing that needs to happen in this game or very early in the season is that players are going to need to step up. Kyle Hines is gone, but there are still plenty of solid players with experience on the roster. When everyone figures out their roles, I think this team will surprise people. Hopefully it happens Friday night.

Go Spartans !!!

- Game preview from UNCGSpartans.com. From the game notes it appears UNCG will use a very odd starting lineup of Landon, Kendall, Ben, Eargle and Pete Brown. I'm very surprised not to see Oliver or Mikko starting. Guess the other 5 have shown Coach Dement something extra in practice.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Spartan Salvation

I decided I'd compile a list of preseason articles. Here are a few articles previewing the new look Spartans basketball team and a few other just interesting articles.

- Greensboro News & Record preview.

- Winston-Salem Journal preview.

- SoCon Preview from the USA Today.

- And the there's this awesome line from the blog The Grand National Championships ...

"UNC-Greensboro: It's a new era in Greensboro. Your threats
from the inside have disappeared from the graduation of Kyle Hines. It's time
for some long distance action. You know who it's time for? Mikko Koivisto.
He is your Spartan Salvation."

- The recap of the Blue-White game.

- This is a Q&A with new UNCG chancellor Linda Brady.

- There was this random opinion piece talking about UNCG's possibility of starting up a college football program.

- Kyle Hines' Italian blog 1, Italian blog 2 & Italian blog 3.

-Then there's NCAA and the penalties they handed UNCG.

A blog is born ...

Well, I've heard that blogging was so easy that any idiot could do it. Apparently that is the case as I now have one.

I started this blog to discuss the basketball program at my alma mater, UNC-Greensboro. I plan on using this blog to link to articles that I find about the basketball team, and to add my 2 cents worth about each game individually. I may also jump to a completely different subject, but I doubt I'll do it very much.

If anyone notices things on here that are wrong, please let me know. As I note at the bottom, this site isn't connected with UNCG or the SoCon (or any other school named on here). It's just me and my opinions.

So, with the season starting soon, there will be a lot of updating going on. Enjoy ...