Wednesday, December 30, 2009

NC State (9-3) @ UNCG (2-9)

When: Thursday, December 31 6 pm
Where: Greensboro Coliseum (7,617/23,500)
TV: Fox Sports Net

NC State Athletics
PackPride (forum)
StateFans Nation (blog)
Backing the Pack (blog)

Spartan Notes:
- Last time out, Wake Forest turned back a late Spartan rally to win, 75-60. Ben Stywall lead 4 UNCG players in double figures with 13 points and 14 rebounds.
- The Wolfpack will be the 5th team from the ACC that UNCG will face this season. So far, the Spartans have played well at times against Duke, Virginia Tech, Clemson and Wake Forest.
- The Spartans are still looking for their first win in their new home,the Greensboro Coliseum. The Spartans are 0-5 at home and have lost those games by an average of 15.2 points.
- Brandon Evans leads UNCG in scoring (12.2). Stywall is averaging 11.8 points and a team best 9.2 rebounds. Kyle Randall leads the team in assists (2.4).
- For the year, UNCG is shooting 38.5% from the field, 31.1% from behind the arc and 69.9% from the free throw line

Wolfpack Notes:
- Tuesday night, NC State jumped out to a 32-9 lead and cruised to a 68-52 win over Winthrop. Dennis Horner lead the Wolfpack with 12 points.
- NC State comes into the Greensboro Coliseum with a road record of 1-2. So far, State has won at Marquette and lost at Arizona & Wake Forest.
- The Wolfpack has already defeated two SoCon teams this season. Georgia Southern (75-57) and Elon (79-76) both fell to NC State at the RBC Center in Raleigh.
- Ten NC State players are averaging playing over 10 minutes a game. All of NC State's primary ball handlers (Javier Gonzalez, Farnold Degand, CJ Williams & Julius Mays) have a positive assist-to-turnover ratio.
- Tracy Smith leads the Wolfpack in scoring (16.8) and rebounding (9.2). Gonzalez leads in assists (5.8).
- For the season, NC State is shooting 45.7% from the field, 34.2% from behind the arc and 63.6% from the free throw line.

My Thoughts:
This game has the potential to be very interesting. NC State is not a particularly great rebounding team that has struggled at times with turnovers. While they do have some size, they are not the super tall team like Duke or Wake Forest. Also, the Wolfpack has struggled at the free throw line.

However, NC State does shoot the ball well from the field, especially behind the arc. They have very capable three point shooters at 4 of the 5 positions on the floor. The Wolfpack have been involved in quite a few close games this season. Three of their games have been one possession games. The Pack is 2-1 in those games. Also, they have played close games against several mid-major schools. If this is a close game with UNCG, NC State will not panic.

Let's hope that UNCG brings the same fire and passion to the court that they brought on Monday. The Spartans can be very competitive with NC State playing with that kind of energy. I expect there to be quite a few people in the Greensboro Coliseum. The atmosphere will be electric. Let's hope the home team can feed off that and get the victory.

Go Spartans !!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Wake Blocks UNCG Upset Attempt

UNCG 60 - Wake Forest 75

News & Record
W-S Journal
UNCG Athletics
Wake Forest Athletics

Wake Forest ended the game on a 16-4 run to turn back the Spartan upset bid. Wake was lead by Al-farouq Aminu's 23 points and 17 rebounds. The Demon Deacons finished the game with 16 blocked shots.

- Turnovers --- UNCG has been hampered this season by turnovers. Against Wake Forest, the guards took much better care of the ball. Kyle Randall, Montel Smith and all of the other Spartans that primarily handled the ball did a fine job of navigating through Wake's tall players and trapping press.
- Big men battle --- I thought that the undersized UNCG big men did a very solid job battling (what seemed like) an endless stream of Wake big men. After Brian Cole's 3 pointer, it was fun to watch Deacs have to follow him out to the perimeter. Cole, Elhanan Bone and Ben Stywall did a tremendous job of fighting for position and tapping balls around that they couldn't coral until other Spartans could pull the ball in.
- Ben Stywall --- After a couple of "off" games for Ben, he stepped up big time to help with rebounding (UNCG 44-Wake 42) and second chance points (UNCG 23-Wake 9). Ben finished the game with 13 points and 14 rebounds.

Block party --- Wake finished the game with 16 blocks. Some of that is a product of being the tallest team in college basketball. However, some of it was UNCG players penetrating too far and not having an idea of what they were going to do when they got to the basket. Hopefully, the guys had a chance to look at the film and come up with a better idea of what they want to do the next time they are in these situations.

All-in-all it was a fun atmosphere and the Spartans brought fire to the floor Monday night. Hopefully they can recreate this energy on Thursday night to give Spartan fans something more to celebrate.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Know You Enemy - Wake Edition

Even through all of the holiday madness, Wake Forest blogger Martin Rickman made time to answer a few of my questions about the Demon Deacons. Martin's site, Blogger So Dear, is a great site and I highly advise you all to check it out. You can find my answers here.

In the 2 games I've seen live, Al-farouq Aminu has been interesting to watch. He was impressive against NC Sate doing all the things you would expect a 6'-9" athlete to do, including a very impressive dunk. However, against William & Mary, he seemed content to just shoot (and miss) a lot of three point attempts. Give me your assessment of Aminu so far this season.

Aminu has not been himself so far. That said, it is hard to ignore or discount the fact that he is averaging a double-double and has the capability to dominate games in stretches (as we saw during the NC State game).

His problems have been two-fold. His decision-making has been a bit suspect--he'll take a shot he doesn't need to when he has the lane, he will not exploit the fact that he can back down just about anybody, etc... In addition, he has been way too generous with the ball. Rather than throwing an outlet pass and running the floor on the break, he'll try to take it coast to coast. He's been sloppy in general and has been turning it over a ton.

Our fans have a tendency to exaggerate our problems and Aminu is a good example. He may have a flashy dunk here and there, but most of his plays are garbage buckets and putbacks. That's just his game. When he cuts down on the turnovers and stays within himself, he just might be the best player in the ACC.

Monday's game will be the second Wake has played in the Greensboro Coliseum this year. The first, an 89-58 win over ECU, seemed to work out pretty well for the Deacs. Do you like the idea of giving up a couple of home "money" games in order for your team to get experience playing in the Coliseum?

I love it. As I'll explain more below, Dino has done a great job of taking on these road games. The Coliseum is close and gives us an opportunity to play road games in a friendly environment. Plus, it gets us prepared for the ACC Tournament, helping with site lines and familiarizing the team with the venue in general. And this might be a bit of a stretch, but it may bring a little more exposure to the school. Hey, Wake is always looking for ways to steal some fans from the schools down the road.

Coach Dino Gaudio has taken his share of criticism. What do you like and dislike about Gaudio as a coach

Maybe I'm just optimistic, maybe I'm a bit defensive, maybe it is because I covered a majority of the games last year, but I am really not as critical of Dino as a lot of other people. He has shown that he has a plan for the team and is putting in those measures little by little.

He has transformed the defense from one that was almost nonexistent to one that is one of the best in the nation at defending the three and packing the middle, leading to a ton of blocks. We also do a great job of rebounding (especially on the offensive glass).

Another positive has been his recruiting, although it is too early to accurately judge this. He looks to be bringing in a different type of player--and this year's class of CJ Harris and Ari Stewart are good examples. Next year's class is the money class, and if they flop, Dino goes, if they succeed, well, maybe that will take the heat off of him.

On the flip side, there are some things Dino definitely needs to work on. The half-court offense is atrocious. I mean, it's bad. The vaunted big men have not progressed and there is almost no production out of them. Free throw shooting is horrendous and we turn the ball over way too much. The team is sloppy as a whole. These are things that should be easy to fix and they haven't gotten any better at it.

Wake Forest lost a ton of firepower when James Johnson and Jeff Teague left for the NBA. How was Wake tried to offset the loss of these two great players?

When the season started, I really thought Farouq would be the one taking a ton of the scoring bulk. The biggest change has been the emergence of CJ Harris. He has shown a lot of Teague in him with his ability to shoot the basketball and drive the lane. Plus, Ari Stewart has done a good job of coming off the bench and scoring. Gary Clark has shown a lot of promise in stretches.

Overall, it just is a matter of balance. When Wake gets production out of 8-9 players, they are in good shape. We don't have the "playmakers" per se like James and Jeff, but Ish Smith has definitely become more of a focal point. This is his (and in a similar regard LD Williams's) team. When he goes, the Demon Deacons go.

Do you ever get tired of hearing that Zombie Nation song?

For our team, no. When other teams use it, yes. I'd be lying if I said I do get a little tired of our fight song at times, especially when we play it after something bad happens or we're getting smoked.

Having been born and raised in Winston-Salem, I've got to witness first hand the relationship between the city and school. It seems like over the last 6-7 years that Wake Forest and Winston-Salem have really started to embrace each other. Do you agree? What do you think brought about the change?

I think so. The biggest reason for this has been Ron Wellman. I don't know if we will really realize just how much he has impacted Wake Forest athletics until he leaves (and my money is that he'll end up as the next ACC commissioner). The guy has really tried to bring the city and the school together and this is something we definitely needed to have happen.

The Dash has a lot more people than most people think and it should love this school rather than outsourcing their fandom to places like Duke, UNC and State. Wellman (and President Hatch) need to keep this up and make Winston-Salem and Wake Forest a community. It will be interesting to see what other plans are in the works.

Prediction Time. How do you see the game going? Does Wake have any holiday hangover or do they destroy the Spartans? Give me a score.

Wake starts slow, but ultimately establishes their gameplan with defense and a lot of transition buckets. The hangover might last until midway through the half, but they will be able to control the tempo. They shoot about 52% and hold UNC-G to 38%. Wake wins by some range of about 18-25.

Wake Forest (8-2) @ UNCG (2-8)

When: Monday, December 28 7 pm
Where: Greensboro Coliseum (7,617/23,500)
TV: None

Wake Forest Athletics
WFU Forum
Blogger So Dear

Spartan Notes:
-Last time out, UNCG went ahead early but quickly fell behind a very good Richmond team. The Spartans lost 89-63. Brandon Evan scored 22 points.
- Evans has scored in double figures in 7 of the last 8 games.
- This is the first time Wake Forest has played at UNCG.
- This game marks the first of three straight ACC opponents for UNCG. The Spartans host NC State (Dec 31) and Maryland (Jan 3) before jumping into SoCon play next week.
-Evans leads UNCG in scoring (12.4). Ben Stywall leads the team in rebounding (8.7) and Kyle Randall leads in assists (2.4).
- For the season, UNCG is shooting 39.4% from the field, 31.5% from behind the arc and 69.3%from the free throw line.

Demon Deacon Notes:
- The Deacons have been off since a 67-59 win over NC State on December 20. Al-farouq Aminu lead Wake Forest with 18 points and 13 rebounds.
-Media members picked Wake Forest 6th in the preseason ACC basketball poll.
- The Demon Deacons have already defeated one Southern Conference team. Elon fell to Wake 90-50 on December 13 at LJVM Coliseum.
- Wake Forest has already played one game on the Spartans home floor. The Deacs defeated ECU, a common UNCG opponent, 89-58 at the Greensboro Coliseum.
- Aminu leads Wake Forest in scoring (16.1) and rebounding(10.7). Ish Smith leads the team in assists (5.3).
- For the year, Wake is shooting 46.9% from the field, 34.6% from behind the arc and 64.5% from the free throw line.

My Thoughts:
Without trying to be pessimistic, this is a very tough matchup for the Spartans. Wake has lots of size. It hurts even more that those players are super talented too. Wake shoots well, rebounds well and plays very tough defense.

However, the Deacons turn the ball over quite a bit and often get bogged down on the offensive end. As with all of the Spartans tough non-conference opponents, UNCG will have to play exceptionally well to have a chance. The Spartans will need to bring a lot of energy to the court, shoot well and limit mistakes.

Go Spartans !!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Turnovers Bury the Spartans

UNCG 63 - Richmond 89

News & Record
Richmond Times Dispatch
UNCG Athletics
Richmond Athletics

Holiday plans dictate that this post be very brief. I apologize that I can't do the normal game review. I'll be back doing full ones next week.

20 UNCG turnovers, coupled with Richmond shooting 55% squashed any threat of a Spartan upset. Brandon Evans scored 22 points, but he wasn't joined by anyone else in double figures. The Spartans don't play again until next Monday when they host Wake Forest. The Deacs will be the first of 3 straight ACC opponents to visit the Greensboro Coliseum.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


A few quick notes for today ...

- Today's game against Richmond is listed as being carried by If you're at work, it may be a banned website. So, tread lightly. I don't want to be responsible for anyone getting fired right before the holidays.

However, if you're at home or work at a laid back place (like me), feel free to check it out. As always with Channelsurfing, it may work some times and not others.

- I got an email today from WUAG sports director, Kris Ostrowka. He pointed out that WUAG* would be carrying all UNCG men's basketball games over the winter break. That's great news for everyone in the Greensboro area and beyond. The 103.1 FM signal is stronger than WPET's and I've always found their live stream to be clearer than that of WPET* (the athletics website too). Check out their website for a full schedule.

Also, Kris is the host of the Sports Cycle on Monday night from 7-9 pm on WUAG. Now that I know about the show, I plan on checking it out. I figured I'd let everyone else know about it too.

* It doesn't matter which station you choose to listen in on UNCG basketball. As I pointed out the other night in the WZTK post though, it's a great idea to show the basketball sponsors your patronage. Letting companies know that it's worth it to support UNCG athletics will help the program financially in the future.

Monday, December 21, 2009

UNCG (2-7) @ Richmond (8-3)

When: Tuesday, December 22 12 noon
Where: Robins Center (9,071)
TV: None

Richmond Athletics
Richmond Forum

Spartan Notes:
- Last time out, UNCG fell behind Akron 18-4 and never recovered. The Spartans lost 83-59. Brandon Evans led UNCG with 13 points and 7 rebounds.
- Friday's loss broke a UNCG 2 game road winning streak. The Spartans had previously won at USC-Upstate and Samford.
- After playing at Richmond, the Spartan will have a 5 game home stand starting on 12/28. UNCG will host Wake Forest, NC State, Maryland, Wofford and Furman before going on the road again.
- Ben Stywall (12.0) leads a trio of Spartan players averaging double digits in scoring. Evans (11.3) and Kyle Randall (10.2) are the other players. Stywall also leads UNCG in rebounding (8.7). Randall leads in assists (2.3).
- For the season, UNCG is shooting 39.1% from the field, 32.6% from behind the arc and 69.6% from the free throw line.

Spider Notes:
- On Saturday, Richmond rallied from an 8 point halftime deficit to defeat #13 Florida 56-53. The Spiders held Florida to just 26% shooting in the second half. David Gonzalvez lead the scoring with 16 points.
- Richmond comes into the game sporting a 5-0 home record. Included in that record is a home win over the SoCon's UT-Chattanooga, 75-49.
- The Spiders were selected to finish third in the Atlantic 10 (A10) conference during the preseason. Three players (Gonzalvez, Kevin Anderson & Dan Geriot) were selected as all-conference players.
- Anderson leads Richmond in points (16.5) and assists (3.2). Geriot leads the team in rebounds (5.9).
- For the year, Richmond is shooting 44.0% from the field, 32.8% from behind the arc and 73.7% from the free throw line.

My Thoughts:
I looked over a lot of information to put together this preview. Other than Duke, Richmond is probably the best team the UNCG will play this season. They have a lot of guys that do a lot of things well. They shoot the ball really well and are very solid on defense.

Playing this game at 12 noon is the only thing that may help the Spartans. Maybe this early game time will have the Spiders trying to sleepwalk past UNCG. Also, UNCG's record may contribute to a lack of effort by Richmond. If the team can bring some big energy to the court, maybe they can steal a big road win.

Go Spartans !!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Tough Loss to the Zips

UNCG 59 - Akron 83

Akron Beacon
UNCG Athletics
Akron Athletics

This quote from the Akron Beacon Journal's article sums up my thoughts of the game.

UA took uncontested shots inside and outside all night in a one-sided game that seemed over soon after it started.

- Another big game for Evans --- Brandon Evans continues to be a bright spot for the Spartans. Evans led UNCG with 13 points and 7 rebounds. Brandon has done a really good job of attacking the basket and finding open teammates.

- Slow starts --- UNCG got down 18-4 to start the game off. It was over after that. UNCG continues to play very poorly at the beginning of games and spend the rest of the time playing catch up. With three ACC teams and a very good A-10 team coming up on the schedule, things could be ugly for a while.
- No Fight --- In every game this season, the Spartans have found a way to crawl back into each game. The Zips never had to worry about that on Friday night.

The Spartans have a quick turn around to their next game. UNCG travels to Richmond to play a noon game on Tuesday. So, there's no time to dwell on the loss. Hopefully Coach Dement can make some quick adjustments and get the guys to playing better soon.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Carl Likes the Colts, Saints and Player Drama

After watching the UNCG-Akron game, I feel as though all of us fans might need to take a break to smile and laugh. Thus, I've posted a video's of Aqua Teen Hunger Force's Carl giving his "Stone Cold Lock of the Century ... of the Week". Enjoy and I'll post a game recap tomorrow.

Friday, December 18, 2009

101.1 FM Talk to Carry Some UNCG Games (Update)

I just got an email from Britt Whitmire (co-host of FM Talk 101.1's "Brad & Britt in the Morning" show) informing me that tonight's game against Akron, plus 10 or 11 more this season, will be airing on FM Talk 101.1 WZTK. As you can see from the coverage map, this station has a huge reach throughout the state of NC (even into Virginia).

This is great news to me and other UNCG fans that games will be carried on a powerful FM station like 101.1. Now we won't be forced to sit in front of our computers to hear to Scott Pryzwansky and Dick Stewart. Plus, it is great for alumni and potential UNCG students to get to hear games in the triangle and beyond. I think we are seeing the partnership with ISP starting to pay off for our fans.

I would advise everyone reading this to send emails to FM Talk 101.1, UNCG Athletics and ISP Sports thanking them for putting Spartan games on the air. Doing that lets these places know there is an interested fan base. Also, show the radio advertisers your patronage and let them know you heard them during UNCG games.

All of this can go a long way toward helping our program move to a higher level. Thanks to all of the people who helped to make this move.

Go Spartans !!!

UPDATE: Apparently, the game now won't be carried on WZTK. This is from UNCG Sport's Twitter page.

Having a tech problem with 101.1 tonight. Won't join the network until after Jan. 1 .

Thursday, December 17, 2009

UNCG (2-6) @ Akron (5-3)

When: Friday, December 18 7 pm
Where: Rhodes Arena (5,500)
TV: None

Akron Athletics
Zips Nation Forum
Akron Blog

Spartan Notes:
- Last time out, UNCG dropped a home game to Princeton, 65-50. Ben Stywall lead UNCG with 14 points and 7 rebounds.
- The Spartans are 2-2 in road games this season. UNCG dropped it's first 2 games at Duke and Virginia Tech before rebounding with 2 straight wins against USC-Upstate and Samford.
- Including Princeton, UNCG has out rebounded its last three opponents.
-Stywall leads UNCG in points (13.0) and rebounds (9.0). Kyle Randall leads in assists (2.4).
- For the season, UNCG shooting 39.5% from the field, 33.6% from behind the arc and 68.7% from the free throw line.

Zips Notes:
-Akron defeated Malone College (NAIA) 62-30 on Saturday. Brett McKnight had 18 points and 10 rebounds.
- Akron defeated UNCG 75-53 in Fleming Gym last season. "Humpty" Hitchens and Nate Linhart each scored 13 points for the Zips. Ben Stywall lead UNCG with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
- Media members picked Akron as the preseason favorite in the MAC conference.
-The Zips come into the contest sporting a 3-1 home record so far this season. Their only loss was the home opener to Austin Peay.
-No Akron player is averaging double digits in points. However, 4 players are averaging over 8 points.
- Nikola Cvetinovic lead Akron in scoring (8.9). Zeke Marshall Leads in rebounds (6.0). Hitchens leads the Zips in assists (2.4).
- For the season, Akron is shooting 40.8% from the field, 33.3% from behind the arc and 59.5% from the free throw line.

My Thoughts:
The Zips have a very tall team, and should have a huge size advantage over UNCG. However, the stats point to Akron not being a good shooting team (especially free throws). If it's close game down the stretch, I like UNCG's chances of taking advantage of this bad free throw shooting by Akron.

The Spartans have played much better on the road. For whatever reason, the guys have came out as the visitors and shot really well. Maybe they can continue the good play on the road against a team that is still trying to hit their stride. With a tough finish to the non-conference schedule, it would be great to pick up another win.

Go Spartans !!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Gold Home Uni's = Nasty Beatdown

UNCG 50 - Princeton 65

News & Record
Daily Princetonian
UNCG Athletics
Princeton Athletics

UNCG wore their gold uniforms on Sunday and the result was similar to the East Carolina game. The guys came out lifeless and played with no energy. The defense was poor and they couldn't hit shots. Also, they wore the same gold uniforms against ECU.

- Brandon Evans --- Brandon was basically the entire offense for the Spartans. When it appeared UNCG had never seen a zone before, Evans would drive to the basket and make something happen.
- Zooperstars --- Yes, that's right. The Spartans brought so little excitement to the court that the other highlight was the fake animals dancing to N' Sync.

- Defense --- Princeton shot 50% and got any kind of shot they wanted, whenever they wanted.
- Shooting --- UNCG shot 38% from the field, but just 14.3% (2-14) from 3 point range. It really feels like UNCG has missed every big 3 point attempt they've tried at home this year.

That's all I've got. There is not another home game until after Christmas. That should be long enough for me to re-charge and get excited about going to coliseum all over again. Hopefully the Spartans can go and get a win (or two actually) on the road between now and then.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Princeton (3-4) @ UNCG (2-5)

When: Sunday, December 13 1 pm
Where: Greensboro Coliseum (7,617/23,500)
TV: None

Princeton Athletics
Princeton Blog
Ivy League Forum

Daily Princeton Preview

Spartan Notes:
- Last time out, UNCG missed two potential game tying 3 pointers in the final 20 seconds and fell to preseason SoCon favorite College of Charleston 69-66. The Spartans were led by Ben Stywall's 21 points and 14 rebounds.
- Mondays game was Stywall's second straight double-double. He scored 11 points and pulled down 15 rebounds against Samford on Saturday.
- According to an N&R article, guard Mikko Koivisto has been battling a hip strain for the past 2 games.
- UNCG is still winless in its new home, the Greensboro Coliseum. So far the Spartans have dropped games to # 22 Clemson, East Carolina and Charleston.
- Stywall is leading UNCG in scoring (12.9) and rebounding (9.3). Kyle Randall leads in assists (2.6).
- For the season, UNCG is shooting 39.6% from the field, 36.3% from behind the arc and 69.4% from the free throw line.

Tigers Notes:
- In their last game, Princeton overcame a 2 point halftime deficit to beat Lafayette 62-48. Douglas Davis paced the Tigers with 21 points.
- Princeton defeated UNCG 65-55 at Jadwin Gym last season. It was a poor shooting night for both teams. UNCG shot 29.6%, while Princeton was only slightly better at 38.2%. Davis (15 points) and Dan Mavraides (17 points) lead the Tigers.
- Princeton has 9 players that average playing more than 13 minutes a game.
- Davis leads the team in scoring (13.1). Marcus Schroeder leads in rebounding (4.0), assists (2.4) and minutes played (36.0).
- For the season, Princeton is shooting 40.2% from the field, 35.2% from behind the arc and 76.5% from the free throw line.

My Thoughts:
First off ... UNCG, please don't use the foul strategy to get back into this game. I couldn't overlook the fact that this team shoots over 75% from the free throw line. This was the one decision that Coach Dement made last year that caused to me to lose my mind. We turned a 1 possession game into a 10 point loss.

I think UNCG can take advantage of the Tigers being a very weak rebounding team. The Spartans are averaging almost 8 more boards a game than Princeton. However, Davis made seven 3 pointers in Princeton's last game. UNCG will have to play better perimeter defense than they have in their last 2 home contests.

I'm afraid the biggest factor on Sunday may be the crowd. With forecasters calling for some winter weather tonight, there might be very few people in attendance for a 1 pm Sunday tip off. The Spartans are going to have to bring their own intensity to the Greensboro Coliseum and not depend on crowd noise to help. If so, I think UNCG can be successful.

Go Spartans !!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Know Your Enemy - Princeton Edition

Last season, I was able to exchange questions with a Dayton basketball follower before the Spartans played the Flyers. I called the post "Know Your Enemy" (after my favorite Rage Against the Machine song). Well, it's time to try the segment again.

This time I was able to catch up with Jon from He runs a great site, but before visiting be warned. Jon's such an overachiever that he doesn't just follow the Tigers, but also many other teams with Princeton connections (Georgetown, Denver, Northwestern, etc).

I'll still post my normal preview later in the week. I answered his questions as well. I'll link to them when they are posted.

It looks like the Tigers have been streaky early in the year. Princeton won it's first 2 games, then lost their next four. The win last Saturday may be the start of another streak. What are the reasons for the up and down play?

In Princeton's first two games, the Tigers started both of their senior centers side-by-side. With 6'9" Zach Finley and 6'11" Pawel Buczak on the court together for long stretches, Princeton's interior defense was sound and both got very makable shots (though against Manhattan they inexplicably missed almost all of them at point blank range).

Despite that early success, the third game of the year against Army was a disaster. Neither Finley or Buczak felt the double (and sometimes triple) teams coming from smaller Black Knight defenders and combined to turn the ball over seven times with zero assists. After this game, where Princeton committed the second highest number turnovers they'd had this decade, the starting lineup was changed.

What have you seen so far out of the Tigers that you like? What have you seen that concerns you?

The lack of production from the center position remains concerning. Since Army, neither Buczak or Finley has completely gotten back on track. Buczak is shooting 28.1% from inside the three point arc and Finley has a 2:17 assist-to-turnover ratio. There have been flashes, but neither looks comfortable doing things that have come naturally to each of them in the past.

I have enjoyed watching Douglas Davis play. He was the first Princeton freshman to lead the team in scoring in program history and in the last two games he has been excellent - making good decisions and under control.

Two freshman forwards - Ian Hummer and Will Barrett have impressed defensively and both are long, active, and hard for the opposition to work around. However, Princeton has struggled to find a balance between what Hummer and Barrett were born with and what the veteran Finley and Buczak have learned. The Tigers are often two teams over one game and have not yet decided which side of the fence they'll ultimately fall on.

The all around game of a now-healthy Patrick Saunders, both on offense and defense, has been a positive. Saunders is one of those players doesn't do any one thing great, but he does almost everything well across the board. When Princeton ran their offense through a posting Saunders in the second half, the Tigers were able to pull away from Lafayette.

"Are we planning on guarding ________ ?" If I'm yelling this from my seat on Sunday, what Princeton player's name seems most likely to be in the blank?

Davis. He can hit from outside (see his seven threes versus Lafayette) at a decent clip and can also get into the lane to pull up for midrange jumpers. At Rutgers, when nothing was working offensively for Princeton in the first half, he was fearless driving right at the Scarlet Knights' big men and drawing fouls. If he gets going, it only opens up options for other Tigers.

Dan Mavraides, Princeton's second leading scorer, can put up points in very small stretches of time.

Head Coach Sydney Johnson took over a program that had fallen on some hard times. He is now in his third season. What are your thoughts about him as a coach? What has he done to really get this program moving back in the right direction?

I like Coach Johnson a good deal. Two+ seasons in, it is still hard to tell if he is as good an in-game coach as he is a recruiter and mid-week tactician, but his teams are always well prepared and usually play very passionately for him. There are a few very sly things he's coached his teams to do that remind you that he was previously an assistant for an exceptionally sly coach - John Thompson III at Georgetown.

Be honest ... is it flattering or just annoying hearing about the tons of teams around the country that run the "Princeton" offense?

Heh. It is more annoying to have people complain about the lack of backdoor baskets after a game because they think that's the only component of a "Princeton" offense. I really enjoy watching the different permutations of the Carril coaching tree play. There's stuff Denver runs that Georgetown would never do and sets Northwestern uses with great success that the other "Princeton" programs can't seem to pull off as regularly.

Prediction time. How do you see the game between the Tigers and Spartans going down? Just for fun, give me a score.

It sounds like UNCG, similar to Princeton, has struggled with slow starts this season. If the Tigers can play well in the first 10 minutes, I see them returning to New Jersey with a 57-52 victory. If Princeton struggles to score early, like they did versus Army, Cal and Rutgers - the Tigers could be chasing the Spartans all afternoon.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Shots Just Miss the Mark

UNCG 64 - College of Charleston 67

News & Record
Charleston Post & Courier
UNCG Athletics
Charleston Athletics

Kendall Toney's attempt was a little short and Kyle Randall's was a little long. Thus ended the furious Spartan comeback. In a game that felt destined to be a 15 point Charleston win, UNCG fought back. They just couldn't quite get all the way back.

- Rebounds --- UNCG out rebounded Charleston 49-29. They led in offensive rebounds 25-8. The Spartans led in second chance points 29-8.
- Ben Sywall is a beast --- Coming off a game where he had had 11 points and 15 rebounds, Ben scored 21 points and had 14 rebounds. For the season Ben is averaging 12.9 points and 9.3 rebounds.
- Moxie --- UNCG has shown a lot of fight this season. There's not been a game where the guys mailed it in and gave up. They continue to go on impressive second half runs where they play with a sense of urgency. It's a shame they don't start out the games with that same sense of urgency.

- Starting Woes --- Once again, UNCG found itself down 9-2 in the first 5 minutes. It would be nice if the Spartans didn't need to show that "moxie" mentioned above. I don't know what the deal is with playing at home, but hopefully the guys can find a good rhythm soon.
- Quick guards --- For the second straight home game, UNCG got hammered by a lightning guard breaking down the defense.
- Luck --- Andrew Goudelock hit a shot that bounced off the rim 15 times, twice on the top of the backboard and then a dozen more times on the rim before it finally went in. Okay this obviously an exaggeration, but not by much. I don't know what we can do to get some good luck, but I'm open to suggestions.

This blurb from the N&R article gives a little insight into what has been going on with Mikko.

UNCG's Mikko Koivisto is battling a hip strain that is limiting his minutes. Dement said the senior guard can play offense, but can't slide his feet on defense. Koivisto played 11 minutes Monday after he could go only two minutes Saturday.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

College of Charleston (3-3) @ UNCG (2-4)

When: Monday, December 7 7 pm
Where: Greensboro Coliseum (7,617/23,500)
TV: None

Charleston Athletics
Charleston Forum
Charleston Blog

Spartan Notes:
- Last time out, Kyle Randall (21 pts), Bradnon Evans (16 pts) and Ben Stywall (11 pts & 15 rebs) led UNCG to it's most lopsided victory over a D1 opponent. The Spartans defeated Samford 73-40 in Birmingham.
- UNCG sits at 1-0 in the SoCon. After the game with Colloege of Charleston, the Spartans won't play another SoCon game until January 7.
- The Spartans have yet to win in their new home, the Greensboro Coliseum. So far, UNCG has lost to Clemson and East Carolina at home.
- There are 3 Spartans (Stywall, Randall & Evans) currently averaging double figures in scoring.
- Stywall (11.5) and Randall (11.5) lead UNCG in scoring. Stywall leads in rebounding (8.5). Randall (2.5) and Korey VanDussen (2.5) lead UNCG in assists.
- So far this year, UNCG is shooting 40.4% from the field, 37.1% from behind the arc and 69.1% from the free throw line.

Cougar Notes:
- In their last game, Jeremy Simmons and Donavan Monroe each scored 16 points to help College of Charleston defeat Davidson at home. The Cougars won despite giving up 20 offensive rebounds.
- Charleston is 2-0 in SoCon this season after beating Davidson and Georgia Southern at home this past weekend.
- The Cougars were picked #1 in the South Division in the preseason. Charleston's Andrew Goudelock was voted preseason Player of the Year.
- Goudelock leads Charleston in scoring (15.8) this season. Simmons is leading in rebounds (9.6) and Tony White Jr leads the team in assists (3.3).
- On the year, Charleston is shooting 43.4% for the field, 34.8% from 3-point range and 69.9% from the free throw line.

My Thoughts:
Honestly, I don't know what to think. I would have never thought that UNCG could go on the road and defeat any team by 30+ points. Do I think UNCG is good enough to do that every time out? No. But the guys showed what they could do when they played the perfect game.

Charleston is one of the best teams in the SoCon. However, it appears that giving up lots of offensives boards has been a problem for the Cougars. UNCG did a great job of grabbing lots of those in Birmingham and and not always forcing back up a bad shot afterwards.

Maybe a lively crowd and some big confidence can help the Spartans go to 2-0 in the SoCon before Christmas.

Go Spartans !!!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Spartans Crush Samford in SoCon Opener

UNCG 73 - Samford 40

News & Record
UNCG Athletics
Samford Athletics

It's lucky for Samford that Mark Ingram and the Crimson Tide were getting ready to blow away Tim Tebow's Florida Gators. Otherwise, someone might have shown up at the Hanna Center and watched the Spartans destroy them 73-40. It was UNCG largest win in league history and largest over a D1 opponent. There were lots of positives and very few negatives. Let's get to them.

- Defense --- UNCG held Samford to 27.3% shooting for the game and 13.6% (3-22) in the second half. The Bulldogs didn't make a field goal the final 11 minutes of the game and only scored 12 points the entire second half. Those are some amazing stats regardless of the opponent. The Spartans didn't allow Samford's "Princeton offense" to get the backdoor cuts that it's accustomed to getting.
- Guards --- I will just lump them all into this category instead of listing them individually. Kyle Randall (21 pts, 5 rebs & 3 assists), Korey VanDussen (11 pts & 4 assists) and Brandon Evans (16 pts & 3 assists) all played tremendous and had great stat lines. You could also throw Kendall Toney into that mix as well. Kendall didn't have a great line, but did plenty of good things. All-in-all it was the most impressive game I've seen out of UNCG guards in the past few years.
- Big Men Shine Too --- I think I'll lump all of the forwards in together as well. After a rough outing last week, Ben Stywall (11 pts & 15 rebs) emerged again. Pete Brown, Elhanan Bone and Brian Cole all did a great job too. UNCG out rebounded Samford 40-22 (13-7 offensive rebounds), outscored them in the paint 20-10 and outscored them in second chance points 14-3.
- Effort --- It would have been easy for UNCG to get sloppy and play down to their opponent when Samford basically mailed it in during the second half. Instead the Spartans put their foot on the gas and finished them off. Also, UNCG showed up at game time with a lot of energy and intensity. This was a problem the previous Saturday when UNCG didn't seem to know the game against ECU had even started. Hopefully, the guys will continue to bring this kind of effort and energy to the court every night.

When you beat a team by 33, you have to stretch to find faults. While I'm sure coach Dement could point out plenty of them, mine are really reaches at best.

- Koivisto? --- I was shocked to look at the box score and see Mikko only played 2 minutes. After 2 really bad turnovers in the first half, he left the game and never got back on the court. Mikko has really had a rough few games and I hope that he can find what has made him a good player throughout the years. If not, he may find it hard to get back into the lineup with all of these young guards playing so well.
- Turnovers --- I know that UNCG only had 13 for the game. However, the 8 in the first half were the only thing that allowed Samford to stay competitive. UNCG beat them soundly in almost every statistical category and yet only led by 3 points on the scoreboard. When you are shooting almost 50% and making 5-9 3 pointers, you want to take shots on every single trip down the floor.

It was good to get a conference road win against a division opponent. Now UNCG sits at 1-0 in the SoCon with an undefeated College of Charleston coming to the Greensboro Coliseum tomorrow night. Time to get a win in front of the home crowd.

Friday, December 4, 2009

UNCG (1-4) @ Samford (2-5)

When: Saturday, Dec 5 2pm
Where: Pete Hanna Center (5,000)
TV: None

Samford Athletics
Samford Forum

UNCG Athletics Preview

Spartan Notes:
- The Spartans have had a week off since losing to East Carolina at the Greensboro Coliseum. Two 14-2 runs (one in the first half & one in the second) doomed UNCG. Two freshmen, Kyle Randall (13 pts) and Korey VanDussen (13 pts), led a fierce second half comeback before ECU went on it's decisive second half run.
- VanDussen and Kendall Toney enter this game as the only 2 Spartans sporting positive assist-to-turnover ratios.
- Ben Stywall is leading UNCG in scoring (11.6) and rebounding (7.2). Randall leads UNCG in assists (2.4).
- For the year, UNCG is shooting 38.7% from the field, 32.4% from behind the arc and 66.3% from the free throw line.

Bulldogs Notes:
- Last time out, Samford held Elon to just 26% shooting and won it's first conference game 55-31. Josh Davis lead Samford with 12 points.
- Samford is averaging just 13 turnovers a game.
- Josh Davis leads Samford in scoring (12.6). Trey Montgomery leads in assists (3.1). Jeffery Merritt leads in rebounding (4.7).
- For the season, Samford is shooting 46% from the field, 38.8% from behind the arc and 64.2% from the free throw line.

My thoughts:
Regardless of what has happened so far this year, this is the first conference game. It's on the road and against a division opponent. While a win sounds unlikely, it would be really sweet. Also, it would be a great time to send a message to the rest of the SoCon that this is not the same UNCG team from last year.

Hopefully, playing the Princeton offense 3 times last year (Samford twice, Princeton once) will help with the preparation for this game. Also, the SoCon did UNCG a favor by not making this one of those wonderful Thursday/Saturday trips to Chattanooga and Birmingham.

Go Spartans !!!

UPDATE: I just realized (30 minutes after the game was complete) that this preview didn't finish loading. I'm sorry everyone. I have been fighting a cold all week and I'm just now on the road to recovery. I'll be better with this going forward.