Sunday, March 05, 2006

And You Thought Duke Had No Depth...

Just got back from the semifinals of the CAA tournament, where #1 UNCW easily handled #5 Northeastern, and #3 Hofstra came back to upset #2 George Mason. Second game first - Hofstra got 8 total bench minutes from 1 player, and I don't think coach Tom Pecora even wanted to go that deep. Greg Johnson came in for Loren Stokes when he got hit in the eye early in the first half, and punched in the balls late in the second half, and Johnson spelled Agudio when he got a little foul trouble. Uter, Kieza, and Rivera all played the full 40 - and that's after Rivera played 40 and Kieza 39 the night before. Still, they had plenty left to overcome an early George Mason lead and pull the upset. Defense was the key here - Mason scored only 16 in the second half, and was held to only 32.7% shooting on the game. Hofstra is a fun team to watch - the three guards (Stokes, Agudio, and Rivera) all have good outside shots and good slashing games, and Adrian Uter is a poor man's Ben Wallace - he's in there to rebound, block shots (he had a couple facials on Jai Lewis), and show off his ridiculous 'fro. Mason coach Jim Larranaga made a questionable personnel choice late in the game - he took out Will Thomas, who had been having the best game of any Patriot, for most of the last 3 or 4 minutes. Unsurprisingly, the offense stalled out, and they couldn't put together any kind of comeback. Losing before the conference finals isn't the end of the at-large world for George Mason, but losing the way they did can't have helped. They'll be seriously sweating it out next Sunday.

The first game was vintage UNCW basketball. It was close only once in the second half, at 44-41, but the 'Hawks went on a 15-3 run to ice the game away. Everything they do is evenly distributed - I had to look at the box score to see who their leading scorer was (TJ Carter) - 4 ended up in double figures, and Goldsberry was content to merely distribute - he had 3 points but 10 assists and only 1 turnover. No single player stands out, but they all play well, and when all is said and done, they usually win. Northeastern probably had the two best players on the floor in Jose Juan Barea and Shawn James (8 blocks, all emphatic), but they were largely contained, and the better team won easily. Barea led all scorers with 17, but it took him 19 shots to get there, and he had 6 turnovers against 5 assists - the conference player of the year never really got his rhythm. UNCW should have a tougher time tomorrow night with Hofstra, which has a more well distributed scoring attack, and will put pressure on Wyrick in particular, who will be guarding a quicker player all night. I'm really looking forward to going back and seeing the title game in person.

Tomorrow I'll post the tempo-free stats for the season, and will probably have some things to say about the overall numbers. As the week progresses, look for conference championship game previews, ACC Tourney previews, and then recaps for every ACC game I can see (which will hopefully be the vast majority). Have I mentioned yet how much I love this time of year?

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