Well, another day another team we’ll never play in conference again. I’m not going to get all nostalgic - one reason is because it’s 1 AM and after waking up from a cold-debilitating coma I just don’t have that kind of energy. The other reason is because it’s been bittersweet. On the one hand we beat Pitt when they were top ranked. On another hand they:
- Beat us at home when they were fifth in country after being down five with what I recall to be only a minute left (I was on a cruise in the middle of the ocean during that game and watched the score updates on the ESPN ticker)
- Beat us on a buzzer beater heave when we played them the year after we took them down as no. 1
- Beat us by four in a game after we beat Villanova…oh wait that was this game! (I knew it was this game)
We got a lot to talk about, so let’d get into it! Today, all references will be Mr. T related (more or less), sooo be ready for that.
Hey fool, this ain’t no football game! Mr. T, Ed Cooley, and about 7,400 other fans in the arena during the Pitt game all knew they paid for basketball, they all wanted to see basketball. And yet, like the Villanova game, we saw a pseudo-football game with the amount of pushing around and physicalness. At one point I saw a no-call on Sidiki Johnson when it looked as though he shoved a player out of his way to get a ball, only to pass it up to Vincent Council and misjudge the pass, turning it over. Ed Cooley addressed this, saying it looked like the Patriots and Ravens out there. There weren’t nearly as many foul calls as Villanova, but the game was just as physical. One thing’s for certain – if someone gets injured again we’re screwed.
Life’s tough, but I’m tougher! That’s not to say the physicalness slowed down the Friars at all. The name of the game seems to be “scrappy D” (also a great name for a 90′s rapper) and the Friars didn’t ease off the gas at all after the Nova game. The Friars played tough, locked down, and started pressing in the second half. Although the defense wasn’t as effective this time around (Pitt, as a whole, shot 51%) it’s good to see that the effort is there.
This goes double for Mr. Dunn, who was playing with the flu and throwing up at halftime. Given the fact that, oh I don’t know, he’s not Michael Jordan, Dunn really played well for someone who used his halftime to get sick. Yes his statline looks like the a great plain of nothing, but he really seems to have an impact on the mentality of the team when he’s on the floor. Cooley made sure to note that Dunn gives this team a defensive identity when he’s on the floor, and I have to start agreeing with that. Dunn is aggressive and excited to be on the floor every chance he gets – sick, injured, or otherwise apparently. That kind of enthusiasm can go a long way with this team. His energy reminds me of what KG does when he’s on the floor for the defense in a way – there’s no off button for Dunn, to the point where that energy spills over. It’s incredible and it’s a huge reason why this defense is starting to look so scary in my opinion.
Teachin fools some basic rules! Yeah, we’re at full strength in our depth chart again. There’s no more injures, no more transfer issues, no more waiting on eligibility…this is it. So it’s interesting to me that the bulk of the minutes still goes to the starting five.
Sidiki Johnson and Josh Fortune both came off the bench for this game, but neither one played significant minutes at 13 and 16, respectively. Other than that you had Lee Goldsbrough at 2 minutes, Ted Bancroft at 4, and a DNP for Brice Kofane. What gives?
Again, in my humble opinion, I think it has a lot to do with learning the college game. Josh Fortune, for example, is still struggling to find his shot consistently at a collegiate level (he had a clutch three at the end, but not much else in the past few games), while also learning how to be as effective as possible on defense. He’s not bad, he’s just not there yet. Sidiki Johnson, meanwhile, is struggling defensively to get to and hang onto his man, while also having a hard time getting into the game it seems. He’s gotten a lot better from his first game, and his improvement is definitely encouraging, but I don’t think he’s quite ready to make contributions in quick spurts.
So we’re left with LaDontae Henton, Kadeem Batts, Kris Dunn, Vincent Council, and Bryce Cotton. These players are all seasoned, and all effective in their roles. Bryce Cotton – phenomenal shooter that can measure out his shot well and make each attempt count. Vincent Council – seems to be back to his old tricks with making trick shots that make you scream “No Vince! …Yes Vince!” over and over again. Oh, and he’s also pretty good at reading defenses and breaking them down I guess. Kadeem Batts is finally a post player, and Dunn seems to just have it clicking.
LaDontae confuses me. He had a great freshman year and I wrote not too long ago that something seems up with him. I haven’t figured out what, and each game I just get more and more lost as to what that issue is. Is it his shot? Is it the defensive mistakes? I couldn’t tell ya; but he’s still a starter and still a key player regardless.
These five are crucial to passing on to the next guys. Cotton can help Fortune, Vincent Council said at the beginning of the season he’s worked with Dunn…hell Sidiki even looks like Kadeem playing wise, which means he can hopefully develop into the player Kadeem is now. Henton, I believe, will focus more on himself for now and, as he learns to get over the hump and become the player we know he can be, a young freshman by the name of Rodney Bullock will come on campus and, like Luke Skywalker from Ben Kenobi, learn the ways of the force from Henton.
The jibba jabba stops here! It was late in the game when JJ Moore got the ball in the corner for an open three point shot. I was sitting right behind him on the court, and I could tell from his body language he was ready to take the shot (he was bending down and starting a shooting motion, that’s how I knew. Smart, right?) Panicked, I knew I had to help my team somehow.
“YOU’RE GONNA MISSSSSSS” I hollered, confident in my distraction abilities as a fan trying to help his team win in a close game. “YOU’RE GONNA MISS BY A MILLLLLEEEEEEE”
He released the ball in a way that a drunk Porky Pig would shoot. And of course it snapped right through the nets as if the rim didn’t even exist.
The ball was taken over for the inbounds play, and everyone started to retreat back to get the offense set up. JJ Moore, as he turned to run back, looked over his shoulder and shouted “I DROP THAT SHIT,” prompting the entire row of courtside seated fans to turn and ask me what the hell just happened.
JJ Moore, 1, Warriorfriar, 0. But hey, thanks for the fun story Moore!
Do you know me? Of course you do, cause I’m famous! It’s going to a player who was a spark to the D when we needed it, despite his shortcomings as a role. He’s not the best player on the team, and he probably won’t end up in the NBA, but Ted Bancroft is the player of the game. Seriously, it’s the walk on. I mean it. Stop snickering, this isn’t a joke.
Ted Bancroft plays when we press. Ted Bancroft is like a defensive omen, because when he’s in we usually press and press hard. I don’t know if that’s because of Ted or in spite of Ted but it happens pretty consistently. And the thing is…he’s actually pretty good with the press. He’s not great anywhere else – he misses passes and makes silly mistakes – but you know what, when the defense needs to get going Bancroft is a guy you can count on. And fans love him! Throw him in the game and watch the pep band go apeshit sometime. You’d think the messiah was coming onto the court – or even better, Ray Hall. And really, what isn’t to love about a guy who works his ass off and puts in whatever he can for this team to help them win? Ted, you’re the walk on I’m always going to remember for being awesome.
I pity the fool! It’s Lee Goldsbrough. If I have to go into this I’m gonna pop, so let’s leave it at this: I have put a lot of faith in Lee to be a capable role player. Nothing in terms of high expectations, nothing crazy like 500 points off the bench. Just be good for a presence. Make the most of your minutes. Not much. At least I don’t think it is, I think you’re capable of it Lee. So do it. Thanks!