Thursday, July 17, 2014

New Site Up and Running

Just wanted to make a quick post here to let everyone know the new site is up and running now. Spartan Fans Nation is the full site I have been working on for some time. While it's a pretty bare site right now, I look forward to adding more and more content on it as time goes on. Please continue to follow me there.


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Blog Update

Hi everyone ...

With the summer well upon us, I just wanted to give a quick update on the blog. In case you haven't heard, I'm working on a much bigger full website that I hope to roll out sometime in the next couple of months. As I've pointed out a bunch, I don't get any money for this site or blogging. It's just something I do because I love UNCG and the basketball program. It's my way of sounding the trumpet for our school. So, I'm forced to do what I can between 2 different jobs on a pro bono basis.

To start with, the new site will have a similar feel and tone to this one. However, I'm hoping in the future that it can encompass most or all of UNCG's sports. I would love to hear any other ideas you guys have for the new site. Feel free to email and post a comment. First and foremost would be to add new content daily. With my schedule in the spring, I always "fizzle out" with basketball updates around mid February because I'm working a ton by then. So, I'm hoping to bring in some extra help in order to keep that from happening in the future. If anyone is interested, email or comment me and I'll try to get back to you as quick as I can. Just know that like me, there's no pay for doing it. Just love of the school and admiration of your readers (ha). I will probably have to set up some ads on the new site in order to cover costs of hosting and domain names and whatnot. If you know anyone that would like to sponsor a site like mine, you know the drill.

Thanks again for visiting my blog and reading my non-sense. Please know that I appreciate anyone would comes here and reads anything. It really does mean a lot to me.

I'll post another update when I know more.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Spartans Storm Back for Season Ending Victory

UNCG 73 - Wofford 71

UNCG Athletics
Wofford Athletics

Halftime: UNCG 29 - Wofford 38

UNCG Stats
Leader Points: Locke (17)
Leader Rebounds: Cain (8)\
Leader Assists: Potts, Paulos (Tied - 4)
Team FG: 29-47 (61.7%)
Team 3 Pt: 4-6 (66.7%)
Team FT: 11-15 (73.3%)
Rebounds: 30
Turnovers: 10

Wofford Stats
Leader Points: Collins (15)
Leader Rebounds: Skinner (6)
Leader Assists: Cochran (5)
Team FG: 27-55 (49.1%)
Team 3 Pt: 5-15 (33.3%)
Team FT: 12-22 (54.5%)
Rebounds: 23
Turnovers: 4

Despite being down 15-3 right out of the gate, UNCG came back for an important win on Saturday night.The win gave the Spartans the #6 seed for the upcoming SoCon Tournament in Asheville. UNCG will take on #11 seed Citadel at 4:00 on Friday with the winner advancing to face Wofford on Saturday night.

After the poor start, UNCG battled back to only be down by 9 at the half. A second half 12-1 run tied the game at 45 before UNCG went on to lead by as many as 8. However, it took a good defensive stand to cause Karl Cochran to badly miss a midrange shot with about 3 seconds left. Tevon Saddler grabbed the rebound to preserve the win.

Now it's a whole new season. UNCG has at least set themselves up as well as possible for a long stay in Asheville. The Spartans are on the opposite side of the bracket as Davidson, Western Carolina and Elon. At least the teams on bottom half of the bracket are teams that UNCG has defeated at some point this season. Let's hope the Spartans can carry their second half offense with them to the US Cellular Center next weekend. Go Spartans !!!

Friday, February 28, 2014

SoCon Champs Hammer UNCG

UNCG 46 - Davidson 79

UNCG Athletics
Davidson Athletics

Halftime: UNCG 25 - Davidson 44

UNCG Stats
Leader Points: White (16)
Leader Rebounds: White (10)
Leader Assists: Parker (2)
Team FG: 21-63 (33.3%)
Team 3 Pt: 1-12 (8.3%)
Team FT: 3-7 (42.9%)
Rebounds: 40
Turnovers: 15

Davidson Stats
Leader Points: Sullivan (19)
Leader Rebounds: Brooks (9)
Leader Assists: Droney (5)
Team FG: 26-58 (44.8%)
Team 3 Pt: 113-27 (48.1%)
Team FT: 14-21 (66.7%)
Rebounds: 41
Turnovers: 9

Well that certainly sucked. Not much to write about that game. Got to move and grab the #6 seed.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

UNCG (11-13) @ Elon (12-11)

When: Thursday, February 6 7:00 pm
Where: Alumni Gym (1,585)
TV: None/Streaming

Elon Athletics

UNCG Stats
Last Game: Ga Southern (L 62-64) Recap
PPG: 71.0
RPG: 36.8
APG: 12.5
Leader Points: Kyle Cain (15.7)
Leader Rebounds: Kyle Cain (9.1)
Leader Assists: Tevon Saddler (3.1)
FG %: 44.6
3 Pt %: 35.7
FT %: 67.6

Elon Stats
Last Game: @ App State (W 83-76) Recap
PPG: 76.4
RPG: 33.2
APG: 14.5
Leader Points: Lucas Troutman (15.8)
Leader Rebounds: Lucas Troutman (6.1)
Leader Assists: Austin Hamilton (3.2)
FG %: 47.6
3 Pt %: 39.7
FT %: 72.6

Well, the Spartans have certainly backed themselves into a big corner now. They've lost 4 of their last five and haven't won a road game since beating App State in Boone back on January 9th. Now they are dangerously close to falling out of the bye race and their last 7 games all come against teams ahead of them in the standings.

The Spartans have lately been making a bad habit of not really playing well until it was the absolute last possible minute. It worked last Thursday as they eeked out a win over App State at home. But it didn't work out so well on Saturday against the Eagles of Georgia Southern. Now it's time to go in the worst way possible.

For Elon, they've seriously underperformed to preseason expectations (Spartan fans know how that feels from last year). But they are still in position to finish in the top 4 and have a very manageable schedule from here on out. There is a very real possibility that they only lose one game left on their schedule. If that happens, they should find themselves back in postseason play at some level.

So, this is where UNCG has to make its stand. If they can't find a way to start picking up wins, this season could easily get away from a team that was showing a lot of promise just a few weeks ago. Go Spartans !!!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Georgia Southern Highlights

Friday, January 31, 2014

App State Highlights

Potts Ignites UNCG to Huge Second Half

UNCG 66 - App State 61

UNCG Athletics
ASU Athletics

Halftime: UNCG 21 - App State 34

UNCG Stats
Leader Points: Potts (26)
Leader Rebounds: Cain (15)
Leader Assists: Saddler (8)
Team FG: 24-58 (41.4%)
Team 3 Pt: 9-20 (45.0%)
Team FT: 9-17 (52.9%)
Rebounds: 40
Turnovers: 10

App State Stats
Leader Points: Spagnolo (15)
Leader Rebounds: Spagnolo (17)
Leader Assists: Neal (7)
Team FG: 23-67 (34.3%)
Team 3 Pt: 7-24 (29.2%)
Team FT: 8-12 (66.7%)
Rebounds: 45
Turnovers: 9

A funny thing happen on the way to UNCG losing their fourth game in a row. Jordan Potts happened. In a big way. At the 14 minute mark of the second half, UNCG was down 44-32. Potts made a 3 to pull UNCG within 9. Over then next 6 minutes he made 5 more. His last one gave UNCG it's first lead since it was 2-0 in the first minute of play. After that it was a scramble to the finish that saw the Spartans hold off App State and break its losing streak.

While the second half story was Potts, the first half was all about offense (or the lack of it). The Spartans shot 25.0% and App State wasn't a ton better at 37.5%. Both teams had a ton of good looks. The ball just wouldn't go down. At one point it felt like the first team to score 40 should be declared the winner. The second half turned into a major track meet though. Both teams were gassed by the end.

As much as this story is about Potts and his offensive display, it should be even more about his defense. His on-ball defense really sparked the entire team. UNCG showed very little life in teh first half. By the second, everyone was throwing themselves on the floor to get to every ball. It was fun to see that switch get flipped. Congrats to the team and the coaches for making it happen.

Now on to the back half of this home stand that UNCG needs to sweep. Another win would put some distance between itself and another team vying for the bye spot. So, it's another big game. We'll get to that one in the preview. Go Spartans !!!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

App State (6-13) @ UNCG (10-12)

When: Thursday, January 30 7:00 pm
Where: Greensboro Coliseum (7,617)^
TV: Spartan All-Access

^ - Greensboro Coliseum is undergoing renovations and will not be using the upper deck for any seating at UNCG games this season. I do not have the official seat totals with these changes.

App State Athletics

Last Game: 1/9/14 UNCG 66 @ App State 60 Recap

UNCG Stats
Last Game: @ Chattanooga (L 67-77) Recap
PPG: 71.7
RPG: 37.0
APG: 12.9
Leader Points: Kyle Cain (16.0)
Leader Rebounds: Kyle Cain (8.9)
Leader Assists: Tevon Saddler (3.3)
FG %: 44.6
3 Pt %: 35.1
FT %: 68.3

App State Stats
Last Game: @ Citadel (W 80-67) Recap
PPG: 71.5
RPG: 36.7
APG: 11.7
Leader Points: Tab Hamilton* (13.6)
Leader Rebounds: Michael Obacha (8.9)
Leader Assists: Mike Neal (3.2)
FG %: 42.3
3 Pt %: 30.9
FT %: 66.3

* Jay Canty averages 17.6 points in 5 games. Canty is currently recovering from a wrist injury and is expected to be out 4-6 weeks.

Last week at this time, UNCG was sitting pretty for a Southern Conference Tournament bye. The Spartans were 3-2 and had won the games it was supposed to and only needed to continue that streak in order to get that top 5 spot. Well, this week is a different story. G went 0-2 on the western swing. At the same time, Wofford, App State and Samford are making big pushes up the standings ladder. Tonight's game is very critical. It's a home game against a local team that is right in the hunt with UNCG for that 5th spot. The Mountaineers are only .5 games behind UNCG (in the win column). It's very much a "must win".

Tonight's game features 2 of the best rebounders in the SoCon in Kyle Cain and Michael Obacha. Obacha is gathering 4 offensive rebounds per game. That's huge. UNCG will need to do a good job of limiting the Apps to just one shot attempt per trip. Since the last contest in Boone, Jay Canty has went down with an injured wrist. He will be out an extended period of time. However, after the injury, ASU won 2 games last week. So while it's a big loss for App, they seem to be rallying and playing better.

As for UNCG, the recent 3 game swoon can be attributed to many things. The glaring problem has been foul difficulty. Spartan big men just haven't been able to stay on the court very long. Cain, Locke and White have all had to battle through fouls. Also, the attitudes haven't been very good. It seems like a single marginal call has been enough to cause UNCG to go "in the tank" for long stretches. Th Spartans need to do a better job of playing the next play and not dwelling on the previous one.

The game in January was one that UNCG pretty much controlled throughout. The Spartans turned the ball over 21 times and really helped keep the Mountaineers in the ballgame (which they actually led at halftime). UNCG needs to be solid with the ball and do a good job of playing defense without fouling. Also, it would be nice to see the interior player and guards play in sync. If that happens I think UNCG can get itself back on track. Go Spartans !!!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Scanning the SoCon Week #13

Scanning the SoCon - Week #13

Power Rankings
1. Chattanooga
2. Davidson
3. Western Carolina
4. Wofford
5. Elon
7. Samford
8. App State
9. Ga Southern
10. Furman
11. Citadel

Game of the Week
Chattanooga @ Davidson

Player of the Week
Tim Williams

Sum up your team
Following the UNCG Spartans this season has been interesting. Just when I think they've figured everything out and are playing well, they completely crap the bed. Then I temper expectations and they will play lights out for several games in a row. Rinse. Repeat. Ever since a home win against Furman several weeks ago, UNCG has been on one of its downward swoons. It took overtime to beat the Citadel in a game that honestly UNCG didn't deserve to win. That was followed by the first 3 games losing streak of the season.

The Spartans have began to clean up their turnover problems of earlier, but have started a new awful trend. Silly fouls and arguing with refs. UNCG players can't help but to foul and they have compounded it with a lot of pouting, bitching and moaning. It's resulted in 4 technical fouls in the last 4 games. Even worse it seems to be the sole focus of some players and coaches. Good teams ca put marginal calls behind them and fight on. The Spartans are young and just haven't shown that ability. They are now looking at 2 winnable home games this coming week that should really tell us where G will stack up at the end of the season.

Which team with four or more SoCon losses (after Saturday) do you think has the best chance to win multiple game in Asheville?
This might be odd to say, but I don't think any of them will win more than one game in Asheville. Three teams look to be much, much better than everyone else in the league. Davidson and Western Carolina are very good and I just don't see them losing to any inferior opponent. I've been waiting for the Chattanooga Mocs to lose at some point. But there's just so many "this is the real test" games they can win before you just have to say that they are very good. By Sunday in Asheville, I expect to see those 3 teams and the 4/5 winner and I don't think any of the other 8 teams will come home with more than 1 win.

Dean Keener says in his post on that there are no superstars in the SoCon. How do you define a star player and a superstar player? Do you think there is one in the SoCon right now?
I would define a star player as that can draw me to watch a team that I had no interest in seeing play otherwise. It's hard to say anyone in the SoCon has generated even a portion of the buzz that Stephen Curry generated several seasons ago. However, I think there are still stars on a more scaled down basis. Z Mason and De'Mon Brooks definitely qualify this year.

It was around this time that BracketBuster match-ups used to be announced. Of course, the BracketBusters are no more. Do you miss them? Or are you glad that they are gone?
Honestly, UNCG very rarely ever played in the bracketbusters. So, the fact that they went away didn't even occur to me until reading this question. Even though that event was billed as a mid major showcase, it really was only a WCC and MVC showcase. So, it doesn't bother me that it's gone. It was a nice idea that had outlived its time.

Monday, January 27, 2014

UNCG Can't Dig Out of Early Hole

UNCG 67 - Chattanooga 77

UNCG Athletics
UTC Atheltics

UNCG 28 - Chattanooga 39

UNCG Stats
Leader Points: Saddler (24)
Leader Rebounds: Saddler, Paulos (Tied - 7)
Leader Assists: Saddler, Potts (Tied - 3)
Team FG: 27-60 (45.0%)
Team 3 Pt: 2-10 (20.0%)
Team FT: 11-19 (57.9%)
Rebounds: 39
Turnovers: 18

Chattanooga Stats
Leader Points: Jones (22)
Leader Rebounds: Stoke (8)
Leader Assists: White (4)
Team FG: 24-51 (47.1%)
Team 3 Pt: 5-21 (23.8%)
Team FT: 24-33 (72.7%)
Rebounds: 33
Turnovers: 12

First off, I think it's time I stop looking at every game Chattanooga plays as the game where I find out if they are "for real". They are indeed for real and Z Mason is a wonderful player. I think they have a real chance to win the SoCon and go to the NCAA Tournament.

Having said that, UNCG let a golden chance slip away from them on Saturday night. The Spartans struggled for the first half. Luckily I wasn't anywhere near a TV and didn't have to watch any if it. When I turned on the TV, I found out that Z Mason had been in foul trouble and that G was down 11 at the break. Really ??? So, to see UNCG not only come back but to take a 3 point lead with around 6 to play, I was impressed. But the Mocs are a good team and they responded well. In the end, you just can't spot a good team a double digit halftime lead on their floor and expect to win the game.

Not much more to say than that. Looking ahead, UNCG has 2 winnable home games this coming week. With the schedule getting tougher as February rolls on, the Spartans need to pick up the next 2 to gain some confidence and momentum. This team is still a work in progress and I think we all need to remember that fact. This team is playing a lot of younger players. the "up's and down's" are just how things work with young teams. With March looming, the only thing that really matters is getting on a roll now. Hopefully, that will start on Thursday night. Go Spartans !!!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Chattanooga Preview

Sorry, but there won't be a Chattanooga game preview. Quick turnaround and sick kids have made for a tough time blogging. 

Look for recap tomorrow. Go Spartans !!!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Spartans Start Western SoCon Swing With a Thud

UNCG 78 - Samford 88

UNCG Athletics
Samford Atheltics

Halftime: UNCG 33 - Samford 43

UNCG Stats
Leader Points: Cain (23)
Leader Rebound: Cain (11)
Leader Assists: Saddler (6)
Team FG: 26-61 (42.6%)
Team 3 Pt: 4-16 (25.0%)
Team FT: 22-32 (68.8%)
Rebounds: 34
Turnovers: 10

Samford Stats
Leader Points: T. Willimas (29)
Leader Rebounds: T. Willimas (12)
Leader Assists: Miller, Kelly, I. Williams (Tied - 5)
Team FG: 30-51 (58.1%)
Team 3 Pt: 6-10 (60.0%)
Team FT: 22-34 (64.7%)
Rebounds: 36
Turnovers: 12

That was one of the more frustrating games I've watched the Spartans play lately. There are times this team just can't get out of its own way. This was one of those games. UNCG didn't really turn the ball over often, but every time it did, it seemed like Samford ended with a dunk or layup on the other end. The Bulldogs scored 17 points off just 10 UNCG turnovers (UNCG scored 4 off 12 TO's by Samford). Also, it was the second straight game that UNCG players spent more times jawing at the officials than focusing on the next play.

Once again, UNCG post players could not stay out of foul trouble. Kayel Locke was in the process of having a monster game, when fouls took him right out of the contest. It allowed Tim Williams to go wild in the post. Honestly, it was just a bad all around performance by a team that had made bigger strides forward on defense. The Bulldogs got almost any shot they wanted and made most of them. The painful trend that also continued, though, was that Samford out rebounded the Spartans. Rebounding has been a staple of UNCG's all season long. In the past 2 contests UNCG has been out rebounded by 2 teams that are not very good at rebounding the ball.

I'm trying to avoid drawing any major conclusions from this one game alone. The truth is UNCG has a tough last 10 games of it's schedule. To finish in the top 5 (and get a bye) in the SoCon tournament is probably going to take a 10-6 record. From this point forward, the Spartans would need to go 7-3 to get to that mark. While not impossible, that just doesn't seem likely unless this team starts to play much better basketball. Saturday night UNCG moves up the road to Chattanooga. The Mocs are on a 9 game winning streak and are 7-0 in the SoCon. They just destroyed what I have been voting as the best team in the SoCon by 21 points. So, yea ... I'm a little scared as to what could happen in the "Roundhouse". I'll try to stay optimistic for now, though. Go Spartans !!!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

UNCG (10-10) @ Samford (7-13)

When: Thursday, January 23 8 pm
Where: Pete Hanna Center (4,974)

Samford Athletics

UNCG Stats
Last Game: Davidson (L 82-93) Recap
PPG: 71.6
RPG: 37.1
APG: 13.1
Leader Points: Kyle Cain (15.9)
Leader Rebounds: Kyel Cain (9.0)
Leader Assists: Tevon Saddler (3.2)
FG %: 44.7
3 Pt %: 36.1
FT %: 68.7

Samford Stats
Last Game: @ WCU (L 64-67) Recap
PPG: 69.1
RPG: 31.5
APG: 13.9
Leader Points: Tim Williams (16.4)
Leader Rebounds: Tim Williams (6.9)
Leader Assists: Isaiah Williams (3.4)
FG %: 46.1
3 Pt %: 32.9
FT %: 68.0

Here's the scenario for UNCG. The Spartans so far have defeated the teams below it in the current pecking order of the SoCon. However, they have fallen flat when playing 2 of the best teams in the league. Where does that leave G? As you might expect, in the middle. For this season, 5 of the 11 teams in the league will receive byes for the conference tournament. Getting one of those byes is very important. At this time, 3 teams (Davidson, Elon, WCU) look like locks for those spots and one more team (UTC) looks very solid. That means there's really only one spot left and 7 teams trying to get it. UNCG has probably the hardest remaining schedule in the SoCon. They will play Chattanooga and Elon twice, Davidson and Western Carolina once in their next 11 games. This was a long explanation to say that UNCG really needs to win this game. It's not in a position where it can drop games to teams that are fighting for that same fifth spot.

As expected, Samford is led by All-SoCon player Tim Williams. Williams and front court running mate Tyler Hood will pose a challenge to UNCG's equally strong front court. Also freshman Isaiah Williams and All-SoCon guard Raijon Kelly will have to be contained.

As for UNCG, it's a broken record I keep throwing out there ... the Spartans are a much better team when they do not give the ball away. Lately, they've also developed a nasty trend of letting officials effect their focus. Players are spending too much time begging for calls or complaining when calls go against them. Even worse is that it's carrying over possession after possession. UNCG needs their best players to stay on the court more. They need those guys to play smart with more focus.

After a very good stretch for UNCG back in late December, recent games have seen the team not play as well. They have been able to pull out some of these games. However, it would be nice to see a good performance at Samford. Every game that G wins keeps it closer to that bye spot. With a big game looming on the horizon on Saturday, the Spartans needs to take care of the Bulldogs and move on. Go Spartans !!!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Scanning the SoCon Week #12

Scanning the SoCon - Week #12

Power Rankings
1. Western Carolina
2. UTC
3. Elon
4. Davidson
6. Wofford
7. Ga southern
8. Samford
9. App state
10. Furman
12. Citadel

Game of the Week
Elon @ UTC

Player of the Week
Z Mason

Monday, January 20, 2014

Davidson Highlights

Sparans Foul Up Upset Bid

UNCG 82 - Davidson 93

UNCG Athletics
Davidson Athletics

Halftime: UNCG 32 - Davidson 40

UNCG Stats
Leader Points: Paulos (27)
Leader Rebounds: Paulos (8)
Leader Assists: Saddler (7)
Team FG: 28-68 (41.2%)
Team 3 Pt: 11-22 (50.0%)
Team FT: 15-21 (71.4%)
Rebounds: 31
Turnovers: 14

Davidson Stats
Leader Points: Brooks (24)
Leader Rebounds: Brooks (9)
Leader Assists: Droney (4)
Team FG: 25-52 (48.1%)
Team 3 Pt: 8-16 (50.0%)
Team FT: 35-39 (89.7%)
Rebounds: 34
Turnovers: 18

Here's a fun recipe ... you take a team that's young and has had problems defending. Next add in a team that is great with ball movement and patience. Finally, throw in some Saturday SoCon refs and you've got the perfect recipe for a ton of fouls. That's exactly what happened on Saturday night at the Greensboro Coliseum. The zebras called a combined 51 fouls and sent the teams to the line 60 times. Unfortunately for UNCG, the Spartans tallied 31 of the 51 fouls and Davidson shot an amazing 35-38 form the free throw line. That's the main story of the game. UNCG was unable to guard Wildcat players without fouling.

It overshadowed what wa an amazing night for Nicholas Paulos. Paulos was 9-9 from behind the arc and probably could have flirted with the NCAA record (11-11) for consecutive made 3's if he could have got up a few more shots. Unfortunately, Paulos was only able to keep UNCG within sight of Davidson. The Spartans cut what had been a double digit lead most of the second half, down to 6 with just under a minute remaining. However, it was too little too late.

Southern Conference Player of the Year candidate De'Mon Brooks had a very good night (24 points and 9 rebounds) while UNCG's front court duo of Kyle Cain and Kayel Locke spent very little time on the court together due to foul issues. Several of Locke's foul calls came from charges where he became frustrated and just barrelled down the lane. Davidson's defense quickly realized his strategy and just got in position to take the contact and draw the foul calls. UNCG also hurt themselves with 2 technical fouls. One was for Kylke Cain slapping the backboard after a dunk and one came after Wes Miller had some choice words for the officials.

All-in-all it was just another game where UNCG showed it wasn't quite ready to compete with the very top of the SoCon. The Spartasn right now look to be maybe to 4th or 5th best team in the league. There is clearly a higher tier with Elon, Davidson, Chattanooga and Western Carolina. IN order to keep pace with that group and put themselves into position for a tournament bye, the Spartans will need to continue to win the games agaisnt teams below themselves in the pecking order. That will have to happen on Thurday at Samford. Go Spartans !!!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Davidson (7-11) @ UNCG (10-9)

When: Saturday, January 18 5:00 pm
Where: Greensboro Coliseum (7,617)^
TV: Spartan All-Access

^ - Greensboro Coliseum is undergoing renovations and will not be using the upper deck for any seating at UNCG games this season. I do not have the official seat totals with these changes.

Davidson Athletics

UNCG Stats
Last Game: Citadel (W 69-65 OT) Recap
PPG: 71.1
RPG: 37.2
APG: 12.9
Leader Points: Kyle Cain (15.7)
Leader Rebounds: 9.1
Leader Assists: Tevon Saddler (3.0)
FG %: 44.9
3 Pt %: 35.1
FT %: 68.5

Davidson Stats
Last Game: Elon (L 85-87 OT) Recap
PPG: 75.4
RPG: 31.6
APG: 12.3
Leader Points: De'Mon Brooks (17.3)
Leader Rebounds: De'Mon Brooks (6.9)
Leader Assists: Tyler Kalinoski (3.3)
FG %: 44.7
3 Pt %: 32.1
FT %: 67.8

First off, let's not let the record fool us. Davidson is a good basketball team. The SoCon's standard bearer has played a tough schedule. Like UNCG, they've matched up with four ACC teams. Five of their losses have came to ranked teams. They dropped an overtime heart breaker in Chapel Hill to UNC after leading for almost the entire game. The Wildcats also played a chunk of their non-conference schedule without potential Player of the Year De'mon Brooks. So, it's no surprise to see them already getting some momentum as conference play starts.

Davidson comes to Greensboro after dropping a tough overtime thriller to Elon. The loss was their first to a SoCon opponent in Belk Arena since 2011. Elon erased a 14 point Davidson lead in the last five minutes of play. The team is led by Brooks, but still seems to be looking for other to step up and fill roles left void by Jake Cohen, JP Kuhlman and Nik Cochran. Miami (OH) transfer Brian Sullivan has been a nice addition for the Wildcats. Tyler Kalinoski and Tom Droney have stepped up as well. The problem for the Davidson is that even by SoCon standards they are not a very big team.

UNCG leads the SoCon in rebounding margin (+4.1). Davidson is dead last (-5.1). Some of that is a product of the competition that the Wildcats have faced. But still that's a huge hole. It's something that UNCG will have to exploit. The Spartans will pose some matchup problems for Davidson. Kyle Cain and Kayel Locke have been a very good post duo and should match up well with Brooks. The problem for UNCG is on the defensive end. Even though Davidson hasn't been tremendous on offense, UNCG struggles with very deliberate offenses. Davidson is still coached by Bob McKillop and he is very good at his job. His team will stick to their style of play and will make all 5 players on the floor defend. They will keep reversing the ball until they find the correct shot.

This is a ridiculously important game. Yes, it only counts as 1 in the win-loss column, but it carries more significance than just that number. UNCG got spanked in their first shot at a good SoCon team. Since then, they've loaded up against the bottom of the conference. Now it's time to try it again with the reigning "Kings of the SoCon". A loss wouldn't be the end of the year. But a win could send a big message that UNCG can't be overlooked. This should be a fun game and fun environment. Can UNCG seize the moment? We'll soon find out. Go Spartans !!!

Citadel Highlights

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Spartans Pull Out Tough Win in Overtime

UNCG 69 - Citadel 65 OT

UNCG Athletics
Citadel Athletics

Halftime: UNCG 20 - Citadel 31

UNCG Stats
Leader points: Locke (21)
Leader Rebounds: Cain (16)
Leader Assists: Parker, Potts (Tied - 2)
Team FG: 24-66 (36.4%)
Team 3 Pt: 5-17 (29.4%)
Team FT: 16-26 (61.5%)
Rebounds: 45
Turnovers: 11

Citadel Stats
Leader Points: Moore (21)
Leader Rebounds: Van Scyoc (11)
Leader Assists: Moore (5)
Team FG: 23-41 (41.8%)
Team 3 Pt: 10-28 (35.7%)
Team FT: 9-18 (50.0%)
Rebounds: 34
Turnovers: 15

Here is a perfect example of a game that UNCG would have absolutely lost last year. The team would have went in at half down by 11, and when the lead ballooned to 14 it would have full on panic mode. The rest of the half, the home fans would have watched their Spartans jack up bad shots looking for the mythical 10 point play.

Instead, UNCG steadily fought its way back into this game. Now the Bulldogs helped them out by playing poor on the offensive end and giving the ball away at bad times. But UNCG never led in this game until Nicholas Paulos's 3 pointer in overtime. Once they took the lead, you could just see it in their eyes. They weren't giving this game back.

Kyle Cain and Kayel Locke were just unstoppable for long stretches tonight. The rest of the team contributed enough to help push G to the tough victory. Other than the huge rebound discrepancy, the stats aren't easy on the eyes. The one other category that is fun to look at, though, is the turnovers. UNCG improved to 5-1 when it turns the ball over 13 or less times.

In order for UNCG to get a bye for the SoCon Tournament, they are going to have to find a way to win games when they are not playing very well. This was one of those nights. When I look back on this game in a few weeks, it will simply be a win. I'll remember very little about how it became a win. That works for me.

Now Saturday has the chance to be a lot of fun. Davidson comes to Greensboro for the last time. The Spartans have a chance to measure themselves against another of the best teams in the SoCon. The last time this happened against Western Carolina, UNCG wasn't ready for "prime time". Maybe they will be this time. Go Spartans !!!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Citadel (4-14) @ UNCG (9-9)

When: Thursday, January 16 7:00 pm
Where: Greensboro Coliseum (7,617)^
TV: Spartan All-Access

^ - Greensboro Coliseum is undergoing renovations and will not be using the upper deck for any seating at UNCG games this season. I do not have the official seat totals with these changes.

Citadel Athletics

UNCG Stats
Last Game: @ App State (W 66-60) Recap
PPG: 71.2
RPG: 36.7
APG: 13.2
Leader Points: Kyle Cain (15.4)
Leader Reboudns: Kyle Cain (8.7)
Leader Assists: Tevon Saddler (3.1)
FG %: 45.5
3 Pt %: 35.4
FT %: 69.0

Citadel Stats
Last game: @ Elon (L 65-74) Recap
Leader Points: Matt Van Scyoc (14.8)
Leader Rebounds: Brian White (7.1)
Leader Assists: Marshall Harris III (4.3)
FG %: 42.8
3 Pt %: 36.3
FT %: 72.0

Let me start off by saying this game feels like the Presbyterian game. It's like a game that most UNCG fans have already counted as a win. It's a game UNCG probably should win at home. The problem is that UNCG is young and has shown the ability to lay an egg at bad times. This could be one of those times.

The Bulldogs don't look to be a particularly potent offensive squad, but they do have the size to match up better with UNCG than the last 2 SoCon opponents. Brian White is looking a lot like the SoCon Freshman of the Year. 6'-8" PJ Horgan has decided to push through his back problems and get back on the court. So far in 3 games, he's not made a huge statistical contribution, but he could be a factor on Thursday. UNCG will have to do a good job guarding Citadel's outside shooters like Van Scyoc, Moore and Harris III.

For the Spartans it all comes back to securing the basketball. UNCG will need to take better care of the ball against a team that doesn't really force many turnovers. It's a problem to give a not so good offensive team easy looks because of turnovers. Hopefully with lower turnovers, UNCG can create better looks on the offensive end. Also it would be nice to see the defensive efficiency from Boone carry over for another game.

This game is very important for UNCG. The way the tiers appear to be breaking for the SoCon, UNCG needs to win the games it is supposed to in order to get a bye. With a huge game on the horizon against Davidson, UNCG needs to not get caught looking ahead and come with focus Bulldogs. If that happens, Saturday afternoon's game should be fun. Got to get this one first, though. Go Spartans !!!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Scanning the SoCon Week #11

Scanning the SoCon - Week #11

Power Rankings
1. Davidson
2. WCU
3. Elon
4. UTC
6. Ga southern
7. Wofford
8. Samford
9. Furman
10. Citadel
11. App state

Player of the Week
De'mon Brooks

Game of the Week
Elon @ Davidson

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Defense Propels UNCG to Road Win

UNCG 66 - App State 60

UNCG Athletics
App State Athletics

Halftime: UNCG 29 - App State 30

UNCG Stats
Leader Points: Saddler, Paulos (Tied - 13)
Leader Rebounds: Cain (14)
Leader Assists: Sadler (3)
Team FG: 23-49 (46.9%)
Team 3 Pt: 4-12 (33.3%)
Team FT: 16-25 (64.0%)
Rebounds: 41
Turnovers: 21

App State Stats
Leader Points: Canty (15)
Leader Rebounds: Obacha (7)
Leader Assists: Hamilton, Canty (Tied - 2)
Team FG: 20-58 (34.5%)
Team 3 Pt: 5-17 (29.4%)
Team FT: 15-21 (71.4%)
Rebounds: 34
Turnovers: 14

UNCG had another rough mountain trip in regards to keeping possession of the basketball. 21 turnovers has usually been the downfall of the Spartans this season. However, G played some solid second half defense and continued to dominate the rebounding margin.

The Mountaineers came into this game leading the SoCon in offensive rebounding. However, UNCG's front court held App State 6 boards below its average. Also, the Spartans defense limited App to just 5 made 3-pointers and under 35% shooting for the game. Jay Canty had a solid first half (11 points) but didn't take many shots in the second half and, according the UNCG radio feed, seemed injured throughout the second half. Not sure what the deal was with him.

As for UNCG, it was definitely ugly. That turnover number was extremely high. Probably too high to think that they will many more games being that careless with the ball. However, it was a win. A conference road win, no less. Those are not wins to be taken lightly. So, I'm sure the coaching staff and team would rather watch film of those mistakes after a win.

Now UNCG can take the weekend off and focus on what will be a giant home stand. On Thursday, UNCG will have a chance to go above .500 in the month of January for the first time in what feels like forever. If they can find a way to get past the Citadel, they will get a chance to face off with Davidson in a huge home contest that should see a big crowd and a ton of excitement. Go Spartans !!!

UNCG (8-9) @ App State (4-10)

When: Saturday, January 9 7:00 pm
Where: Holmes Center (8,325)
TV: None

App State Athletics

UNCG Stats
Last Game: Furman (W 90-82) Recap
PPG: 71.5
RPG: 36.5
APG: 13.4
Leader Points: Kyle Cain (15.6)
Leader Rebounds: Kyle Cain (8.4)
Leader Assists: Tevon Saddler (3.1)
FG %: 45.4
3 PT %: 35.5
FT %: 69.3

App State Stats
Last Game: @ Elon (L 75-66) Recap
PPG: 71.6
RPG: 37.6
APG: 11.5
Leader Points: Tab Hamilton (13.4)*
Leader Rebounds: Michael Obacha (9.4)
Leader Assist: Mike Neal (3.1)
FG %: 41.4
3 Pt %: 29.5
FT %: 65.9

* - Jay Canty is averaging 16.0 points in 2 games.
Tonight's game in Boone is very interesting. Even though App State is winless in D1 games and looking for its first conference win, they are still being favored by 2.5 points in Vegas. What does that mean? It means App isn't that far off. On Monday night, the Mountaineers went to Burlington and promptly dug themselves a 15 halftime hole only to come charging back and make a game of it. That doesn't sound like a team that's ready to throw in the towel and get rid of its coach. ASU still has some fight left in them.Keep in mind that this is the same team that went out and earned a bye for the SoCon Tournament last year.

Make no mistake, even though App is led in most categories by other people, Jay Canty is the best player in Boone. He has spent all but the last 2 games sitting with a suspension that appears to involve both academics and some off the court issues. In only his second game back, Canty tallied 20 points and 4 steals. Playing against a team that is loose with the ball like UNCG, that steal total is just plain scary. Michael Obacha should provide an inside challenge for the Spartans. He leads the SoCon in rebounding and App State leads the league in offensive rebounds. One key tonight will be limiting App State to only one shot each trip down the floor.

For the Spartans, it all goes back to that simple key of limiting turnovers. UNCG is 4-1 when it turns the ball over 13 or less times. The last mountain road trip saw the team turn it over 23 times and really have no chance at victory. UNCG will also need contributions from its shooters again tonight. On Monday, Jordan Potts and Nicholas Paulos stepped up and made big shots from the outside and it opened up room for Saddler to drive and room for Locke and Cain to operate down low. I the post, UNCG owns a definite advantage. They lead the league in rebounding margin. However, with Jordy Kuiper hurt, the Spartan big men will need to do a better job staying out of foul trouble.

UNCG hasn't had a ton of success in Boone in recent memory. In order to get that crucial bye in the SoCon Tournament, the Spartans are going to have to pick up a few road wins. While a loss wouldn't be devastating, a win could really set up the team well going into next week's home stand against the Citadel and Davidson. Hopefully G has learned from it's last trip up the mountain what it needs to do to win on the road in conference. Go Spartans !!!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Scanning the SoCon Week #10

Scanning the SoCon - Week #10

Power Rankings
1. Western Carolina
2. Davidson
3. Elon
4. Ga Southern
6. UTC
7. Wofford
8. Furman
9. Samford
10. Citadel
11. App State

Player of the Week
Trey Sumler

Game of the Week
WCU @ Ga Southern

Sum up your team
The life of following a very young team. The last time I wrote for this segment, UNCG had just finished up it's worst week of the season. As I write this week, UNCG has just finished one of it's more successful portions of the year. During this stretch, the Spartans Completely whipped James Madison and taken NC State and Wake Forest down to the last minute before falling to them. UNCG also defeated just it's second ACC team ever by erasing an 11 point second half deficit to stun Virginia Tech. Unfortunately, UNCG did not look very good in its most recent game at Western Carolina. The Spartans drifted back into some old, bad trends with 23 turnovers. The team has a young back court and I guess it's not surprising to see that number a of turnovers against an experienced team on the road.

How much difference do you think Jay Canty will make in coming back to Appalachian State? Why?
That team has been downright bad in the first 2 months of the season and Canty is an all-conference caliber player. So, I think it's safe to say that he should make a huge difference for that team. The question is more how long will it take Canty to get up to speed and for the team to adjust playing with him.

Which player do you think is the most underrated player in the SoCon? Why?
I think this panel does a very good job of noticing all of the good players in this league. So, it's awful hard to say someone gets overlooked. But with all of the attention that's been paid to who isn't playing for App State, I think Tevin Baskin has been overlooked. He's put up dome very solid stats with 11.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and almost a block a game.

What is the top rivalry in the SoCon right now? Why?
I think the Davidson-Elon rivalry is the most interesting right now. It ahs a lot to do with the Matheny-Davidson connection and the fact they play very similar styles. I'll be interested to see if Citadel-VMI can grow a good rivalry starting next season with the conference shuffling.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Furman Highlights

4 Factors - Furman

Points Per Possesion
UNCG - 1.27
Furman - 1.16

4 Factors

eFG %
UNCG - 63.5
Furman - 56.0

TO %
UNCG - 14.1
Furman - 18.4

OR %
UNCG - 20.5
Furman - 23.0

FT Rate
UNCG - 30.5
Furman - 66.0

UNCG Offense Turns Back Furman

UNCG 90 - Furman 82

UNCG Athletics
Furman Athletics

UNCG Stats
Leader Points: Locke (18)
Leader Rebounds: Cain (6)
Leader Assists: Potts (6)
Team FG: 34-59 (57.6%)
Team 3 Pt: 7-18 (38.9%)
Team FT: 15-18 (83.3%)
Rebounds: 27
Turnovers: 10

Furman Stats
Leader Points: Croone, Ferrara (Tied - 21)
Leader Rebounds: Croone (5)
Leader ASsists: Croone (3)
Team FG: 25-50 (50.0%)
Team 3 Pt: 6-17 (36.3%)
Team FT: 26-33 (78.8%)
Rebounds: 27
Turnovers: 13

I hate to break games down to just one stat. But seriously, if UNCG doesn't turn the ball over it almost always wins. Now inherently from the lack of turnovers comes better offense and better shots. That's what we saw on Monday night. UNCG shot an eFG above 75% in the second half and scored on 15 of 16 possessions to finish the game. Even more importantly, the team stayed together and fought through what I though were some very marginal calls that went the way of Furman.

Now with all of the good on the offensive end, UNCG wasn't particularly good on the defensive side. Croone and Ferrara each scored 21 and at times UNCG couldn't keep Croone in front of them. I thought Jordan Potts did a decent job on Croone. But again, I thought the refs helped bail out Croone on several out of control drives. Ferrara impressed me with some nice post moves and he single handily got all of the Spartan big men in foul trouble.

For UNCG, it was nice to Paulos and Potts make some long range shots and it really seemed to open up lanes for everyone else. It was nice to see Drew Parker and Tevon Saddler pull up hit some smooth mid range jumpers. If Saddler can add that to his skill set, he will be very tough later in the season.

For UNCG it was a much needed SoCon win and a home win to boot. For the Spartans to legitimately have a chance to finish in the top 5 and secure a bye they will need to protect their home court throughout the season. This was a good start. Go Spartans !!!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Furman (6-8) @ UNCG (7-9)

When: Monday, January 6 7:00 pm
Where: Greensboro Coliseum (7,617)^
TV: SpartaN All-Access

^ - Greensboro Coliseum is undergoing renovations and will not be using the upper deck for any seating at UNCG games this season. I do not have the official seat totals with these changes.

Furman Athletics

UNCG Stats
Last Game: @ Western Carolina (L 51-72) Recap
PPG: 70.3
RPG: 37.1
APG: 13.1
Leader Points: Kyle Cain (15.9)
Leader Rebounds: Kyle cain (8.5)
Assists: Tevon Saddler (3.1
FG %: 44.6
3 Pt %: 35.3
FT %: 68.6

Furman Stats
Last Game: hattanooga (L 63-72) Recap
PPG: 67.3
RPG: 32.7
APG: 9.6
Leader Points: Stephen Croone 20.0
Leader Rebounds: Stephen Croone (5.0)
Leader Assists: Stephen Croone (3.6)
FG %: 44.1
3 Pt %: 35.1
FT %: 70.4

After falling flat in their conference debut, we get to see if UNCG can pick themselves up and get back after it. The Spartans played a pretty tough stretch of 3 games in 6 days, including an emotional win at Virginia Tech and a near comeback against NC State. I guess we all should have seen a letdown coming in the way of the Western Carolina game. But it's now been a few days. Hopefully the guys have had a few days to recharge and work on things in practice. It's time to go out and protect the home court and get win #1 in conference.

Furman comes into the Greensboro Coliseum tonight and looks a lot like UNCG. They're not a great offensive team, but have been adequate at times. They do have a bad loss to non-D1 Mint Hill. There are 2 common opponents in Presbyterian (W 74-59) and Virginia Tech (L 75-54). They are led completely by Stephen Croone was is having a great year. Just like Trey Sumler for the last opponent, Croone leads Furman in almost every major category and is super quick with the ball in his hands. He will be a handful for the the UNCG back court to contain.

However, the Paladins should struggle to match up against UNCG's interior players. Look for Kyle Cain, Kayel Locke and RJ White to be huge factors tonight. As I pointed out in my recap of the WCU game, UNCG big men are going to have to do a good job tonight of feeling the double teams coming and finding open players who will need to make shots. Also, it would be nice to see the Spartans do a better job of taking care of the basketball. A turnover number less than 12 would be a good thing.

If UNCG is serious about contending for this league and picking up a bye for the tournament, they really need to have this game. It's a home game against an opponent that they are favored against. It's time to even up the conference record. Go Spartans !!!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

4 Factors - Western Carolina

Points Per Possesion
UNCG - 0.76
WCU - 1.12

4 Factors

eFG %
UNCG - 41.8
WCU - 52.5

TO %
UNCG - 34.2
WCU - 17.1

OR %
UNCG - 18.9
WCU - 21.9

FT Rate
UNCG - 39.5
WCU - 21.6

Friday, January 3, 2014

Spartans Drop the Ball and SoCon Opener at Western

UNCG 51 - Western Carolina 72

UNCG Athletics
WCU Athletics

Halftime: UNCG 29 - WCU 36

UNCG Stats
Leader Points: Cain (17) Leader Rebounds: Cain, Outlaw (Tied - 7) Leader Assists: Potts (4) Team FG: 17-43 (39.5%)
Team 3 Pt: 2-7 (28.6%)
Team FT: 15-17 (88.2%)
Turnovers: 23
Rebounds: 32

WCU Stats
Leader Points: Sumler (16) Leader Rebounds: King (6) Leader Assists: Brummitt, Sumler, Sinclair (Tied - 3) Team FG: 27-60 (45.0%)
Team 3 Pt: 9-22 (40.9%)
Team FT: 9-13 (69.2%)
Turnovers : 11
Rebounds: 30

Now, let's not throw the baby out with the bath water here. This was just one game. Granted it was an outright ugly loss. But it was on the home floor of one of the better SoCon teams. It's the kind of thing you would expect to see from a very young team playing it's first conference road game against a team with very experienced players. It's the roller coaster of following a team with some many freshmen and sophomores. There are the highs of Viginia Tech and NC State and the lows of a game like this.

Well, certainly we should start with the giant turnovers number. 23 is a ton. Way, way too many. This team needs to keep that number in 11-13 range to legitimately have a chance every night. Tevon Saddler had 9 turnovers alone. When one of your main ballhandlers does that you can kiss any chance of a win goodbye. In listeneing to the game, it sounded like the inside-out game that UNCG has played this seaosn was more of an inside-not out game. In order to defeat good teams, UNCG big men are going to have to kick it back out for shots and the guys need to knock down those shots. 2-7 3 point shooting (versus 9-22 for Western) just isn't going to cut it. G can't be outscored by 21 behind the arc and win many games.

I'm not planning on spending any mroe time worrying about thsi game. It was one of 16 left adn UNCG will have a few more nights like this before the year is over. Time to put it in the rearview and beat Furman. Go Spartans !!!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

UNCG (7-8) @ Western Carolina (7-8)

When: Thursday, January 2 7:00 pm
Where: Ramsey Center (7,826)
TV: None

Western Carolina Athletics

UNCG Stats
Last Game: NC State (L 64-68) Recap
PPG: 71.6
RPG: 37.4
APG: 13.3
Leader Points: Kyle Cain (15.8)
Leader Rebounds: Kyle Cain (8.6)
Leader Assists: Tevon Saddler (3.3)
FG %: 44.9
3 PT %: 35.5
FT %: 67.6

Western Carolina Stats
Last Game: Milligan (W 106-72) Recap
PPG: 74.5
RPG: 37.2
APG: 12.7
Leader Points: Trey Sumler (19.8)
Leader Rebounds: Trey Sumler (4.6)
Leader Assists: Trey Sumler (4.3)
FG %: 41.8
3 Pt %: 37.0
FT %: 68.2

Things just got real. This isn't about fine tuning things or finding the right combination of players on the court. This isn't about moral victories or asking to see energy for 40 minutes. This is now about getting wins and setting yourself up for that big run in Asheville in March. This is conference play.

For UNCG conference play starts in a play that they haven't won since February of 2008, the Ramsey Center on the campus of Western Carolina. The Spartans have been competitive at WCU, but they have always seemed to come up short. This year will be an equally difficult task. I have consistently ranked the Catamounts in my top 3 every week for "Scanning the SoCon". While they don't have any major wins to boast about, they do come into the game sporting four D1 wins (same as UNCG). They also have one of the very best players in teh SoCon in Trey Sumler. Sumler leads their team in just about every major category and he will be a tough cover for whichever UNCG player draws the assignment. I would expect to see Tevon Saddler attack Sumler when the Spartans have the ball in the hopes of getting him into foul trouble.

If the Spartans are going to be successful on Thursday night, they will need to continue playing very tough defense. They will also need to continue their dominance on the boards. UNCG currently leads the SoCon in rebounding margin. Wes Miller pointed out in his post game comments after NC State that he expected SoCon teams to try some different schemes against UNCG. He noted that these last three ACC teams have decided to use their shear size to match up with UNCG post players and play the defense "straight up". He admitted that he was expecting Locke and Cain to draw double teams in the post. I think how this game plays out will be determined by what teh big guys do when faced with these double teams. Will they be able to find open players and will tose players be able to make plays. Or will our favorite nemesis "Mr. Turnover" show back up. I think if players like Jordan Potts and Nicholas Paulos can make shots to burn the double teams, then UNCG has a real shot to steal a road game from a good ball club. Go Spartans !!!