Sunday, November 29, 2009

Pirates Make Themselves at Home

UNCG 61 - East Carolina 82

News & Record
Greenville (NC) Reflector
UNCG Athletics
East Carolina Athletics

ECU evened up their record in the Greensboro Coliseum at 1-1. Meanwhile, UNCG's record there fell to 0-2. The bigger problem is that the coliseum in UNCG's home floor. ECU used a 14-2 run in the first half to take a commanding lead and a 14-2 run in the second half to turn back a fierce Spartan rally.

- Korey VanDussen --- After having a quiet start to his college career, Korey helped spur on the UNCG second half comeback. He finished the game with 13 points and 5 assists (0 turnovers).
- Kyle Randall --- VanDussen's back court partner scored a matching 13 points and pulled down 4 rebounds. These 2 freshmen, plus Brian Cole's scrappy play on the defensive end, really made this a game for part of the second half.
Crowd noise --- For a Thanksgiving weekend game that absolutely no students came to see, I thought the crowd was fun and rowdy (contrary to the N&R article's cheap shot).

- Bring some energy? --- UNCG brought absolutely zero energy to the court in the first half. It took almost 5 minutes for UNCG to make a shot from the floor in the game and the Spartans didn't make one for the final 4 minutes of the half. Honestly, this is a problem from last year that I had really hoped wouldn't carry over. Maybe this is a one time thing.
- Open shots --- UNCG shot 31.7% (23.5% in the first half) and many of the shots were very open. Other than Kendall Toney (who scored a team high 19 points) the rest of the seniors on the team shot an amazing 0-16 from the field. With this many seniors on the team, it shouldn't be freshmen that are having to lead a big comeback.
- Defense? --- ECU outscored UNCG 44-16 in the paint and shot 58.2%. There were times I counted the number of UNCG players on the court to make sure there were actually 5 because ECU players were so wide open. The coaching staff will have to get this figured out soon.

Let's must hope that this was a small bump in the road and that UNCG came get things back on track quickly.

Go Spartans !!!

Friday, November 27, 2009

East Carolina (2-4) @ UNCG (1-3)

When: Saturday, Nov 28 4 pm
Where: Greensboro Coliseum (7,617/23,500)
TV: None

East Carolina Athletics
East Carolina Forum - Rivals
East Carolina Forum - Scout
Boneyard Banter

Spartan Notes:
- Last time out, UNCG held off a late rally to defeat USC-Upstate 76-70 in Spartanburg, SC. UNCG got 19 points from Brandon Evans and 17 points from Ben Stywall to lead the charge.
- This game will be UNCG's second in its new home, the Greensboro Coliseum. The Spartans home opener against Clemson drew over 5,000 fans and over 2,000 students. The attendance for the ECU should be down quite a bit considering this game will fall during the students Thanksgiving break.
- This game will be a reunion of sorts. Brandon Evans transferred to UNCG from ECU before last season. Also, Coach Mike Dement is an ECU alumnus.
- UNCG enters this game sporting a top 100 RPI ranking and a strength of schedule rating of 32 according to realtimeRPI.
- Ben Stywall leads UNCG in scoring (13.8) and rebounding (7.8) so far this season. Kyle Randall leads UNCG in assists (2.8).
- On the season, UNCG is shooting 40.6% from the field, 36% from behind the arc and 63% from the free throw line.

Pirate Notes:
-Last time out, ECU came roaring back from a double digit halftime deficit to defeat South Dakota State and take 7th place at the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands. Jontae Sherrod led ECU with 23 points.
- Saturday's game will be East Carolina's second game of the season in the Greensboro Coliseum. ECU fell to Wake Forest, 89-58, at the coliseum on November 15.
- According to realtimeRPI, the Pirates' RPI is 176 and their strength of schedule is 82.
- Brock Young leads ECU in scoring (14.3) and assists (5.5). Darrius Marrow leads the Pirates in rebound with 6.7 a game.
- For the season, ECU is shooting 45.1% from the field, 33% from behind the arc and 68% from the free throw line.

My Thoughts:
This game will be a chance for Brandon Evans to show ECU what he can really do on the court. Hopefully, he'll be able to play within himself and not force things.

It appears that ECU has really struggled on the road this season, already dropping a game at Campbell (plus losing their earlier match up at the coliseum). UNCG needs to get up on them early to gain some confidence and to maybe shake any of the confidence that ECU gained by winning their previous game.

Hopefully the Spartans can build on the good things they did in Spartanburg and get it's first home victory.

Go Spartans !!!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

I just wanted to take a second to wish everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

UNCG Picks up First Win

UNCG 76 - USC-Upstate 70

News & Record
Spartanburg Herald-Journal
UNCG Athletics
USC Upstate Athletics

In a battle of Spartans, it was the UNCG Spartans that held off a late charge from the USC-Upstate Spartans to collect their first win of the young season. It's always good to go ahead and get that first win, and it's even nicer that it's a road win. Now it's time for the Spartans to come home and win in front of their own fans.

- Turnovers --- After having back-to-back games with 23 give aways, UNCG only turned the ball over 15 times in Spartanburg. The Spartan had 16 assists & 15 turnovers to post their first positive assist-to-turnover ratio this season. Kyle Randall, Korey VanDussen and Montel Smith did a great job of handling the ball against a team that bought pressure at times. Smith really stepped up and steadied things at a point when UNCG needed his senior leadership.
- Scoring --- It is nice to see several UNCG players have big scoring nights. Through 3 games, UNCG had struggled to get more than one player into double figures. Last night, there were plenty of scoring options for the Spartans. Brandon Evans had 19 points. Ben Stywall poured in 17. Mikko Koivisto scored 13. Randall had 9 and even Brian Cole chipped in 8 points in just 12 minutes on the court.
- First Half Shooting --- UNCG had the 6th best shooting half in school history last night (3rd best first half). The Spartans shot 65.4& (17-26) from the field and 71.4% (5-7) form behind the arc.

Free throws --- UNCG only shot 56.7% (17-30) from the free throw line. This allowed USC-Upstate to stay in a game that it felt like the Spartans should be winning by a lot more. Brandon Evans scored 19 points and barely hit 50% (8-15) from the line. With the way he drives the ball to the basket, he needs to hit more of those b/c he will end up on the line quite a bit. Hopefully, it was just a one game aberration for Evans and for the entire UNCG squad.

That's the only real negative that jumped out at me last night while listening to the game. Now that the Spartans have that first win under their belt, it's time to give us all something to cheer about at home. The East Carolina Pirates will be at the coliseum 2 days after Thanksgiving. Hopefully, there will be a nice crowd there that will have a reason to celebrate.

Go Spartans !!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

UNCG (0-3) @ USC-Upstate (0-3)

When: Tuesday, Nov 24 7 pm
Where: G.B. Hodge Center (1,535)
TV: None

USC- Upstate Athletics

UNCG Athletics Preview

UNCG Spartans Notes:
- Last time out, UNCG fell to #22 Clemson 89-67 in it's home opener at the Greensboro Coliseum. The Spartans fed off an enthusiastic crowd to play even with the Tigers through a good portion of the first half. A 17-2 run right before halftime gave Clemson a comfortable lead that it would not relinquish. Brandon Evan (17 pts & 5 rebs) and Ben Stywall (13 pts & 6 rebs) lead the Spartans.
- This game will UNCG's first outside of the ACC. The Spartans have opened the season playing at Duke (L 96-62) and at Virginia Tech (L 59-46) before playing Clemson at home on Friday night. Later in the season, UNCG will play ACC members Maryland, NC State and Wake Forest. All of those game will be played at home.
- Ben Stywall is leading UNCG in scoring (12.7) and rebounding (7.3). Kyle Randall leads UNCG in assists (2.3).
- Through 3 games, UNCG is shooting 38.5% from the field, 31.4% from behind the arc and 66.7% from the free throw line.

USC-Upstate Spartans Notes:
- Last time out, Winthrop erased USC-Upstate's 41-28 lead in the final 6:17 to win 49-46. Nick Schneiders and Mezie Uzochukwu led the Spartans with 13 points each. It was a tough shooting night for both teams as neither shot better than 32%.
- The Spartans opened their season getting routed by Nebraska, 76-49, before going to Indiana and playing the Hoosiers very tough. Indiana held off a late charge by USC-Upstate to win 69-61.
- This game will be USC-Upstate's home opener.
- Bobby Davis, who led USC-Upstate in scoring (14.8), rebounding (9.2) and assists (2.5) in 2008-2009, graduated this past spring.
- So far this season, Uzochukwu leads the Spartans in scoring (11.0). Schneiders leads the team in rebounding (7.0) and De'Marion Gordon is leading the team in assists (2.3).
- Through 3 games, USC-Upstate is shooting 37.1% from the field, 30.6% from behind the arc and 63% from the free throw line.

My Thoughts:
This game should tell us quite a bit about our team.

Go Spartans !!!

New Home

News & Record

The decision to move to the Coliseum has attracted attention to the program, brought in television and recruits and the kind of exposure to draw more. The agreement is a five-year deal. This is no experiment. UNCG has its mark on the
building, walls painted in blue and gold, the shield at mid court of the floor and Southern Conference banners hanging from the rafters of a building known for its long basketball history hosting NCAA tournaments: the 1974 Final Four, 21 ACC men's tournaments and the past 10 ACC women's tournaments.

Where UNCG fits into the basketball scene will be determined in years to come, but for the next five years at least, those other events will be held in UNCG's

"This is real," Record said. "People have been talking about it. Faculty members told me this was the first time in 20 years students in class had been talking about going to the basketball game. What we have to do now is build on that."

Facebook - UNCG Men's Basketball
UNCG Athletics

It was obvious from the very first second that I stepped out of my car on Friday night that this wasn't just about a basketball game. There were students tailgating in the parking lot. There was a marching band in the Pavilion. There was a "Welcome to the home of the UNCG Spartans" sign that greeted fans coming into the arena. There were televisions all over the place displaying UNCG's logo. Finally, there was that brand new blue & gold floor that we had gotten a glimpse at in last August. This was homecoming, a kick-off party and a festival all rolled in one.

While there plenty of things I liked (I'll list those) and some things I didn't like (I'll list those too), I was really impressed with all of the effort of everyone involved. I thought it all came out looking quite spectacular.

- The player introduction was awesome. It's the one thing I was hoping they would definitely use and it was even better than I had hoped. I really want every potential recruit to see that intro.
- All of the UNCG signage was great. obviously, the entrance sign was the one that caught my eye. However, there really were UNCG logos everywhere you looked, including the men's room.
- The Spartan Spot looked like a really fun area. Since I have a group of friends coming in town for several games this year, I'm certain I'll end up there at least once. $5 tickets and 2 bars just can't be beat.
- Tailgating looked like a blast. I just brought some Zaxby's because I was running behind (I even forgot the beer). However, the students looked like they were having a great time. It looked very reminiscent of tailgates that you'd see for football games. Which is something our students don't get to enjoy. So, I'm glad basketball can take the place of that for UNCG students.

There were a bunch of other things that really enjoyed that I'm sure I'm leaving out. However, there were 2 things that I was not so keen on.

- The student section being in the corner while 2 sections at mid court were almost empty. I watched the game off my DVR when I got home and still thought it looked ridiculous. Why wouldn't you want there to be 2 full sections of people wearing blue & gold for the TV cameras? It would make the arena seem louder for the television audience. Also, it would be a great incentive for students to get in line and get their tickets early.
- Leaving the coliseum was ridiculous. There has got to be a better way out of there than the way I went. I sat in traffic for 30 minutes to get out of the parking lot because all of the students and season ticket holders all are in one lot that has one entrance/exit. But there was no security personnel or cop there to stop traffic and allow the lots to empty. Instead, you had to fight your way out once you got to the exit. Plus, I didn't even want to go out that way. I needed to go towards Patterson to get on I-40. when I finally worked my way back around to where I needed to go, those exits were completely empty. It was just an irritating hassle that I really hope they get worked out for the next game.

Again, theses are really the only things that happened that I didn't like. All-in-all, it was an absolutely great experience. I'll continue to encourage all of my friends to make a trip over to see some games. I hope that everyone else will do the same.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on what you did or did not like about the Friday night coliseum experience. So, feel free to comment away.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Tigers Down the Spartans

UNCG 67 - #22 Clemson 89

News & Record
UNCG Athletics
Clemson Athletics

I will have a completely separate post for my thoughts on the move to the Greensboro Coliseum. But for now I'll just comment on the game itself.

A 17-2 Clemson run turned a very competitive game into a rout. Luckily, the Spartans never quit (they haven't all year) and made the second half fun for everyone to watch.

- Tempo --- This may sound odd, but I think UNCG did a good job of keeping this game from turning into a full-on track meet. Clemson's press is designed to turn the game into a sloppy, up-and-down affair. UNCG for the most part didn't fall into the trap. I thought the guys did a good job of picking their spots on when to attack. It just seemed like too many of those shots wouldn't fall.
- Brandon Evans --- Brandon finished with a team high 17 points. Also, the alley-oop from Kyle Randall to Brandon was #2 and Sportscenter's Top 10 on Friday night.
- Ben played big --- As I re-watched my DVR'd copy of the game this morning, the announcers kept saying about Ben Stywall what most UNCG fans already know ... he plays bigger than his actual size. Ben's ability to get boards and get to the free throw line really kept UNCG in the game early.
- UNCG is not in the ACC --- All joking aside, I'm really glad that the Spartans get to play some teams not in the ACC for a while before having another 3 game stretch with them in late December.

- Turnovers --- I don't think is really a secret to anyone that saw the game. 23 giveaways is just too many.
- Missing open shots --- It seems like the Spartans missed a lot of open looks last night. Kendall Toney and MIkko just couldn't get a few open 3's to drop. When I re-watched the tape today, I noted that UNCG missed 3 lay ups during Clemson's big run. I think Coach Dement's halftime speech would have been different if the score would've been 42-30 instead of 42-24.

Anyways, it was a fun night and I'll get to that soon enough. From a basketball stand point, UNCG is now to the part in it's out-of-conference schedule where it need to get a few wins. I really think they can do that starting this Tuesday.

Go Spartans !!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

#22 Clemson (2-0) @ UNCG (0-2)

When: Friday, Nov 20 7 pm
Where: Greensboro Coliseum (7,617/23,500)
TV: FSN, ESPN Full-court, ESPN 360

Clemson Athletics
Clemson Forum - Scout
The Block "C" - Blog

UNCG Athletics Preview

Spartan Notes:
- Last time out, UNCG came up short in Blacksburg against Virginia Tech 59-46. The Hokies used an 11-0 run midway through the second half the hold off UNCG's upset bid. Kyle Randall and Mikko Koivisito led UNCG with 10 points each. Ben Stywall pulled down 8 rebounds. 23 turnovers really hurt the Spartans' cause.
- This will be UNCG's first game in their new home, the Greensboro Coliseum. Even though it can seat up to 23,500, it will be configured for most games to hold 7,617 fans.
- Through 2 games, Ben Stywall leads UNCG in points (12.5) and rebounds (8). Freshman Kyle Randall is averaging 9.5 points and team leading 3 assists.
- So far this season, UNCG is shooting 37.8% from the field, 31.8% from behind the arc and 58.6% from the free throw line.

Tigers Notes:
Last time out, Clemson thrashed Liberty, 79-39, in an odd 10 am game. The game was part of ESPN's "24 hours of basketball" promotion. David Potter led Clemson with 17 points as the Tigers hit 10 3 pointers in the game and caused 28 Liberty turnovers.
- Clemson is currently ranked #22 in the AP poll. The Tigers are just one spot lower, at #23, in the ESPN/USA Today poll.
- Last season, Clemson went 23-9 and lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
- Clemson was picked to finish 3rd in the ACC this year. Trevor Booker was voted 1st team All-ACC (he was 3rd in Preseason POY voting).
- The Tigers have won 28 straight games in November and haven't lost a November game since 2004.
- Clemson lost 3 of their 5 starters from last season. Only Booker and Demontez Stitt return.
- The Tigers are averaging a ridiculous 19 a game through their first 2 games.
- Currently, Potter leads Clemson in scoring (12.5) while hitting 70% of his 3 point attempts. Booker is averaging a double-double with 11.5 point per game and 10 rebounds per game. Stitt and sophomore Andre Young are both averaging 4.5 assists per game.
- On the young season, Clemson is shooting 45.6% from the field, 44.4% from 3 point range and 62.5% from the free throw line.

My Thoughts:
The Spartans have one more game in the ACC gauntlet before taking a little break. UNCG will need to value the basketball in this game to have any chance. Plus, they will have to keep Clemson from getting a lot of transition looks at the basket.

The Tigers stats jump of the page. These guys are "scary" good and have already blown their first 2 opponents out (one on the road). Hopefully, UNCG can feed off the energy and excitement of playing at the coliseum in front of its home crowd. If that can happen, maybe the Spartans can be in it at the end.

Go Spartans !!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Spartans Fall Short in Blacksburg

UNCG 46- Virginia Tech 59

News & Record
Roanoke Times
UNCG Athletics
Va Tech Athletics

There were four lead changes and the score was tied 8 times last night. However, an 11-0 Virginia Tech run midway through the second half sealed the Spartans fate. A good first half that saw UNCG head to the locker room tied at 26, was follow by a not-so-good second half that saw UNCG struggle to score 20 points.

- Big D --- UNCG played tremendous defense throughout the evening. Their zone defense forced the Hokies to jack up a lot of 3's and only hit 1 (1-13, 7.7%).
- Mikko --- After a super quiet game in Durham on Friday night, Mikko Koivisto had a solid game. His 2 first half 3's sparked UNCG.
- Rebounding --- UNCG out rebounded Virginia Tech 38-37.
- Road toughness --- For the second straight game, UNCG showed some toughness and moxie by playing hard (and in this case being very competitive) in a tough environment.

- Turnovers - 23 turnovers leading to 27 points. A lot of the turnovers weren't really forced ones either. Unfortunately, UNCG will see a lot of pressure defense on Friday when Clemson pays a trip to the coliseum. Hopefully, Coach Dement can get the guys to clean up that problem quickly.
- Opposition offensive rebounds --- While UNCG did a good job out rebound Va Tech, they did give up a bunch of offensive rebounds (18). This was a problem in game #1 and was a problem again last night.
- Offense --- The Spartans shot 35.3% (29.2% in the second half) in Blacksburg and 40% last Friday night at Duke. At some point the offense needs to come alive. Now, I'm sure that playing ACC competition has an awful lot to do with the low production numbers. Maybe getting to shoot in a familiar gym will help with the percentages in the coming games.

Monday, November 16, 2009

UNCG (0-1) @ Virginia Tech (1-0)

When: Tuesday, Nov 17 7 pm
Where: Cassell Coliseum (10,052)
TV: None

Virginia Tech Athletics
Virginia Tech Forum - Rivals
Virginia Tech Forum - Scout
Tech Sideline Forum
Tech Hoops

UNCG Athletics Preview

Spartan Notes:
- Last time out, UNCG fell to Duke 96-62 at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Ben Stywall led the Spartan with 19 points and 8 rebounds. Freshman Kyle Randall led the Spartans with 4 assists.
- UNCG had 9 players play double digit minutes in the season opener.
- UNCG shot 40% from the field, 33% from behind the arc and 55.6% from the free throw line in the opener.
- Elhanan Bone is questionable for this game.

Hokies Notes:
- Last time out, Virginia Tech defeated Brown 69-55. Malcom Delaney led the Hokies with 21 points.
- Virginia did a great job of taking care of the ball in its opener. Virginia Tech only turned the ball over 8 times and dished out 15 assists (1.9-to-1 Assists to TO ratio).
- Virginia Tech lost its leading scorer from a year ago to graduation. A.D. Vassallo averaged 19.1 points last season. However, the leading rebounder (Jeff Allen) and leading assists man (Delaney) did return for this season.
- In the season opener, Virginia Tech shot 46.4% from the field, 41.2% from behind the arc and 55.6% from the free throw line.

My Thoughts:
UNCG has never played well against Virginia Tech. However, their height advantage doesn't even get close to the advantage that Duke held over the Spartans. Cassell Coliseum is a tough place to play. Again, though, the Spartans played in an even tougher place on Friday.

UNCG's freshmen played well at times against Duke and left fans with reason to feel optimistic. It will be interesting to see how they follow up that performance. At a glance, UNCG didn't appear competitive with Duke. But those of us that actually watched know it was a 16 point game with about 10 minutes left before the Blue Devils went on one of their patented runs to bury UNCG.

Virginia Tech didn't overwhelm their first opponent this year. The Spartans might have a chance to catch the Hokies sleepwalking. However, to beat an ACC team on the road, UNCG will have to play an almost perfect game. Hopefully the guys can build on the good things they did on Friday and surprise the Hokies.

Go Spartans !!!

UPDATE: is listing this game as being shown @ 7.

4 Sign to Play for Spartans

Cody Henegar (Jasper, TN), Drew Parker (La Porte, TX), Mike Liabo (Carbondale, IL) and Trevis Simpson (Douglas, GA) signed LOI's to take 4 of UNCG's 5 available scholarships next season. I've already posted articles about Parker and Henegar. So this post will focus on the 2 players that have not been profiled.

Mike Liabo (6'-6" SF, Brehm Prep) was an honorable mention all-state player in Florida in 2008 before his family moved to Illinois. Originally of class of 2009 player, Liabo is spending this season at prep school. Before heading to Illinois, named Mike #7 in their class of 2009.

- Here is the story of Mike's signing on Friday from Brehm Prep's blog.

- Here is an interview of Mike from several months ago.

Trevis Simpson (6'-5" SF, Coffee County HS) originally committed to the University of Buffalo. However, after a recent visit, Simpson changed his mind and has ended up here at UNCG.

- ESPN graded Simpson an 87.

He's a long armed, wiry wing player. Has good athletic ability. Excellent in transition. Can get to the rim because of his ability to knife through the defense or catch the ball and finish with a dunk. Handles the ball well. Plays with his head and eyes up looking for an opening to score or draw and kick.

- Rivals rates Simpson as a 3 star recruit that received interest from BCS program's throughout the southeast. Scout rated Trevis as a 2 star recruit.

- ranked Trevis (misspelled as "Travis") as the #13 player in the state of Georgia in the class of 2010.

Welcome to the Spartans, Mike & Trevis !!!

This Week in the SoCon

For the week of Nov. 16-Nov 22 (leaving out games against non-D1 schools)

Ga Southern @ South Carolina
Elon vs Charlotte (Durham)

UNCG @ Va Tech
Elon vs TBA (Durham)
ETSU @ Chattanooga
Presbyterian @ Furman
Winthrop @ College of Charleston
Wofford @ Georgia
Charleston Southern @ Citadel

Ga Southern @ Florida
Western Carolian @ Texas

Davidson vs South Florida (Charleston)

Clemson @ UNCG
Davidson vs TBA (Charleston)
App State @ Arkansas
Citadel vs Eastern Michigan (Mo. State)
Samford @ Texas A&M

Davidson vs TBA (Charleston)
Datmouth @ Furman
Citadel @ Missouri State
Ga Southern @ Jacksonville State

Citadel vs UMES (Mo. State)
Wofford @ Bradley
Chattanooga @ Richmond

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Spartans fall at #9 Duke

UNCG 62 - Duke 96

News & Record
Durham Herald
UNCG Athletics
Duke Athletics

Box score

I've decided to do the post game articles a little different this year. I think my "good, bad & ugly" approach last year was a little too pessimistic. This season, I'll go with "positives & negatives".

The score was lopsided on Friday, but UNCG played well against probably the best team they'll see all year. Not to mention playing a lot of young guys in a very hostile environment.

Before I get on to my thoughts on the game, I want to tell everyone to go check out Chancellor Brady's twitter page. Her in game commentary was awesome.

- Ben was Ben --- Ben Stywall (19 points & 8 rebs) did what he always does. He scored in a lot of different ways and seemed to be around every rebound in the second half.
-Guard play --- The first time I saw one of UNCG's guards penetrate to the basket, I nearly fell over. It happened more times against Duke than it did all of last year. I thought all of the guards did some good things.
- Poise in a tough environment --- Being down 21 point at the half, UNCG could have really mailed it in for the second half. Instead they came out and fought hard. There were times that last season's squad seemed disinterested after they got down. With the hard OOC schedule that this team has, I really hope they can continue showing this kind of resiliency.
- Freshmen --- Randall, KVD and Cole all had some very good moments and showed why they were well thought of by various recruiting services.

- We couldn't get taller during the game --- Obviously, I'm joking here. However, Duke's size really beat up the Spartans. Even when forced into tough/bad shots, the Blue Devils would be waiting for second chance points.
- Bad turnovers early --- Early in the game UNCG made some bad passes that led to easy Duke points. When playing good teams, the Spartans have got to make them work for all of their points.

Hopefully, UNCG can take it's positives and put up a better fight on Tuesday in Blacksburg. Go Spartans !!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

UNCG (0-0) @ #9 Duke (0-0)

When: Friday, November 13 7 pm
Where: Cameron Indoor Stadium (9,314)
TV: Fox Sports Net

Duke Athletics
Duke Basketball Report (DBR)
Duke Forum (Scout)
Duke Forum (Rivals)

UNCG Athletics Preview

Spartan Notes:
- UNCG is coming of a miserable season in 2008-2009. The Spartans went 5-25 and lost in the first round of the Southern Conference tournament.
- Even though there were no seniors on last season's roster, UNCG lost 3 players over the off season. Damian Eargle (Youngstown State), Daniel Oliver (St. Leo) and Landon Clement (NC Central) all transferred in the summer.
- The Spartans brought in a very nice recruiting class for this season. Korey VanDussen (Zeeland, MI), Kyle Randall (Youngstown, OH), Brian Cole (Dacula, GA) and Taylor Hoffer (Poulsbo, WA) are new to the 2009-2010 squad. Randall was the 2008-2009 Pennsylvania Class A player of the year. ESPN ranked Cole in their top 30 of centers last season. VanDussen finished 3rd in voting for Michigan's Mr. Basketball. Hoffer was a 3 star rated recruit by Rivals. All four guys were nominated for the McDonald's All-American Game.
- Unfortunately, Hoffer will have to redshirt this season after suffering a leg injury.
- East Carolina transfer Brandon Evans is available to play this season after sitting out the 2008-2009 season.
- Evans scored a game high 16 points in last Saturday's Blue-Gold Scrimmage. Kendall Toney led his team with 14 points. Ben Stywall (15), VanDussen (14), Pete Brown (12), Cole (12) and Mikko Kiovisto (11) all scored in double figures. Stywall and Darius Seller had a game high 6 rebounds.
- Elhanan Bone is listed as out for this game.
- UNCG has never beat a ranked team.
- Koivisto led UNCG in scoring (12.4) and assists(2.4) last season. Ben Stywall was the team leader in rebounds (8.4).
- Last season UNCG shot from the 39.8% field, 31.4% from behind the arc and 64.8% from the free throw line.

Blue Devils Notes:
- Last season, Duke went 30-7 and made it to the "Sweet Sixteen" of the NCAA Tournament before failing to Villanova in the regional semifinals. Duke won the ACC Tournament.
- Duke sits currently at #9 in the AP poll. They are one spot higher at #8 in the ESPN/USA Today poll.
- The Blue Devils lost one of their biggest contributors, Gerald Henderson, to the NBA. Henderson is currently playing for the Charlotte Bobcats.
- Duke returns 7 players who averaged double digit minutes last season. Kyle Singler and Jon Scheyer averaged playing over 30 minutes a game last season.
- Elliot Williams (Memphis) transferred during the off season to be closer to his sick mother.
- According to Scout, Duke brought in 3 of the top 10 players in the country for this season. Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee were rated as 5 star prospects, and Andre Dawkins was a 4 star prospect.
- The Blue Devils starting PG, Nolan Smith, will be suspended for this game. Smith participated in an unsanctioned basketball game and was suspended for the first 2 games of Duke's regular season.
- Singler led Duke in scoring (16.5) and rebounding (7.7) last season. Scheyer led Duke in assists (2.8).
- Last season, Duke shot 44.4% from the floor, 34.9% from behind the arc and 72.8% from the free throw line.

My Thoughts
This game is pretty straight forward. UNCG has to play a perfect game and hope that Duke is sleep walking. Even then, it might not be enough to overcome playing in one the most hostile environments in college basketball. Duke has a huge size advantage. They will probably only start one player under 6'-5". UNCG may only start 1 player over 6'-5". However, Duke is very thin at the guard spot without Nolan Smith. In their exhibition tune-up for this game they struggled in the first half without having Nolan in the game. Maybe UNCG's improved guards can disrupt Duke and keep the Spartans in the game.

UNCG plays a brutal stretch to open the season. So, I'd really like to see them play well enough in this game to come away with some confidence to carry over into the next few weeks. Also coming away injury free would be nice. The freshmen should take away some great experience knowing they will not play in a tougher venue the rest of the season.

Go Spartans !!!

UPDATE: The News & Observer is reporting that Duke freshman Mason Plumlee is out indefinitely with a fractured wrist.

Signing Day and Polls

First off, today is the first day that high school players are allowed to sign the national LOI to college. So far, there are 2 players committed to UNCG. I'll update this post when UNCG the athletic department posts an article. Hopefully there will be a couple more players to commit as well.

- The SoCon media and coaches announced their preseason picks this past week. The coaches tabbed UNCG to finish 5th in the North Division. They selected College of Charleston's Andrew Goudelock as the preseason POY. The media picked G last. However, one media member gave the Spartans a first place vote.

Thank you (who ever you are) for you confidence.

I would like to wish a Happy Veteren's Day to all those who have served or are serving in our military (home and abroad).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Scrimmage Notes

I figured I would just post a few of my thoughts from the Blue-Gold scrimmage played this past Saturday.

- UNCG has a lot more scoring options from last year. Judging by the point totals, there are quite a few guys that can step up from game to game.

- PG was a concerning position last season. This season it may be the deepest spot on the team. Smith, Randall, KVD and Spooner all had good moments during the game. It's also nice to see PG's with the ability to score.

- The Spartans need Brian Cole to stay out of foul trouble.

- Pete Brown looks like the same player that finished last season on a tear.

- I get the feeling we are going to see a lot of zone defense to prevent our thin front line from getting into foul trouble.

- UNCG has the guards to really turn up the pressure on defense.

- East Carolina will regret letting Brandon Evan get away.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Well, it was bound to happen since it was UNCG vs UNCG. Sorry for the misleading title. Here is the game story. I'll post thoughts early next week.

Blue-Gold Scrimmage

When: Saturday Nov 6, 12 pm
Where: Fleming Gym (2,300)

- SoCon coaches picked UNCG to finish 5th in the North Division this week. Western Carolina, App State & Samford were selected ahead of the Spartans. College of Charleston was picked 1st in the South Division. College of Charleston's Andrew Goudelock was the Preseason Player of the Year.

- There will be a big change in venues for UNCG this year. The Spartans move from Fleming Gym (2,300) to the historic Greensboro Coliseum (23,500). The Coliseum is being sectioned off to seat ~7,600 for most games.

- There were no seniors on the team last season. However, the Spartans did lose 3 members of that squad over the summer. Daniel Oliver (St. Leo), Landon Clement (NC Central) and Damian Eargle (Youngstown State) all transferred in the off season. Clement lead the team in scoring in several games and Eargle was an all freshman performer.

- Last season, Mikko Koivisto lead UNCG in scoring (12.4) and assists (2.4). Ben Stywall averaged 11.7 points and a team high 8.4 rebounds.

- UNCG opens the season at #8 Duke (Nov. 13) and at Virginia Tech (Nov 17) before hosting #24 Clemson in the home opener (Nov 20).

- UNCG adds 4 very promising freshman this season. Brian Cole, Kyle Randall, Korey VanDussen and Taylor Hoffer join the Spartans for 2009-2010. Unfortunately, Hoffer has already suffered an injury and will sit out the entire season.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Blue Devil Notes

Since our first opponent is Duke (Nov. 13th, FSN) I thought I'd post some recent information on the Blue Devils. To read the latest on Duke, take a trip over to the Duke Basketball Report.

- Duke defeated Pfeiffer (Division II) 128-70 in their first exhibition game. Kyle Singler scored 21 points. Freshman Mason Plumlee scored 18 points and pulled down 12 rebounds.

- The Blue Devil's won their second exhibition game against the defending Division II champions Findlay, 84-48. Kyle Singler led Duke with 20 points.

- Duke's starting PG, Nolan Smith will not be available for the first 2 Duke games because he played in an unsanctioned game this summer.

Smith will miss the first two games of the regular season for partaking in an unsanctioned summer league event near his home in Washington, D.C. Duke's junior guard forgot to clear his participation in the games with the school's compliance department, which caused a problem when Smith told the Blue Devils' coaching staff upon his return to campus for the second summer school session.