Friday, March 7, 2014

CAA Tournament Preview Extravaganza: Round 1

Friday March 7th
Game 1: #9 UNCW vs #8 Hofstra

The game nobody wanted to play. The winner of this veritable "play-in" game gets the unfortunate task of facing off against top-seeded Delaware less than 15 hours later. Neither the Pride nor the 'Hawks come into Baltimore with any real momentum, but Hofstra does hold the 2-0 series advantage against the Dub this season. The Seahawks seemed to be turning the slightest of corners down the stretch of this season but Dixon and Williams can only do so much. The victor gets congratulated with jeers from CAA fans Saturday afternoon about having not delivered enough jabs to bruise up Delaware before the latter rounds. 

The Pick: Hofstra

Saturday March 8th
Game 2: #1 Delaware vs UNCW / Hofstra Winner

Over/under 25 Flacco jersey-clad UD fans at this tournament? Even as the overall #1 seed in Baltimore, I'm not sure many have bought the Blue Hens as the team to beat. Despite having three All-CAA performers in the starting lineup, the Blue Hens are playing second fiddle to pre-season favorite Towson. In a league full of parity I would be surprised if this game is in question beyond halftime. Delaware had a chip on their shoulder against CofC in the final regular season game and I believe they will carry it into Baltimore. I foresee Upshaw having an inefficient 20+ point game as he tries to shoot Hofstra into the next round but ultimately Saddler, Usher and Baptiste pose too much manpower. 

The Pick: Delaware

Game 3: #4 Drexel vs #5 Northeastern

Now we're getting somewhere. For the middle 80% of the season I saw CofC likely playing in this middle seed matchup. That scenario fell by the wayside when the Cougars dropped their last three games. Like the Cougars, Drexel seems capable of grinding out an upset or two in Baltimore but Northeastern has the most recent win over the Dragons in the season finale and The Beasterton down low. If the college basketball gods are just we'll get a repeat of the fantastic double OT game that these two teams played on January 8th. In similar fashion I think this is going to come down to the wire, with one team making just enough threes late in the game to pull away.

The Pick: Northeastern

Game 4: #2 Towson vs #7 JMU

With the CAA Tournament leaving the familiar confines of Richmond, Virginia, former conference doormat-turned favorite Towson finds themselves defending their own backyard. JMU is a team you don't want to face in a win or go home scenario because their effort levels and outside shooting sway back and forth so violently that they can beat anybody. But the Dukes are still a year or more away from really making noise in the tournament. Benimon, Skerry and Towson have had big aspirations all year - I fully anticipate them taking care of business on Saturday and cruising into the next round.

The Pick: Towson

Game 5: #3 William & Mary vs #6 Charleston

Well well we get to the headliner, the main event (just let me have this). CofC fans have differing opinions on whether or not 3rd seeded William & Mary is a favorable or unfavorable matchup. The Cougars experienced both sides of how the classic offense vs defense matchup can go. At William and Mary earlier in the year, CofC had the Tribe right where they wanted them and seemed destined to sneak out with a low scoring victory on the road before Marcus Thornton started taking (and making) and unconscious number of shots to lead a strong comeback and ultimate win. More recently in Charleston, CofC put together what will probably go down as their best game of the season. The defense put the pressure on Thornton and Rusthoven early and often but more importantly, the Cougars took what the soft W&M defense gave them and drained season highs in threes and shooting percentage en route to an 87-54 victory. 

I hope that game is crystallized in the players' heads because that's how they need to play throughout the tournament - balanced. You have to believe William & Mary is nervous about a rematch with CofC. Wojcik has preached all season that the regular season CAA run is just a set-up for the tournament; and the team has the defensive acumen, relative depth and rebounding dominance to stay in any game (also lose any game, as we've seen so often this year). The Tribe rely on three point offense and the unfamiliar shooting perspective that comes with playing in a brand new venue does not bode well for them.
If the Cougars are going to pull the upset, they will need two things to fall their way. First, the game needs to be called like a tournament contest and not like the bones-are-made-of-glass whistle fests of this past fall. CofC cannot afford to have All-CAA defensive ace Adjehi Baru riding the pine with the season on the line and Marcus Thornton driving uncontested to the basket.
The second thing is what we have preached all season: the scoring. More specifically, the outside shots need to fall. The sets Charleston sees on Saturday should not be much different than the defense they torched last time out. The Tribe players don't have the length or closeout speed to contest open looks so Nori, Anthony and Canyon need to drain them when they get the opportunity.
The Pick: The College

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Resurgent Offense Not Enough as Cougs Fall to Delaware

Final Score: Delaware 89, College of Charleston 86
Top Performers:
Jarvis Threatt 13 pts (11-13 FT), 13 assts, 6 rebs
Canyon Barry 27 pts (5-7 3pt)

Disclaimer - I was unable to watch this game because of a combination of CAA TV's shoddy product and my own inconsistent internet. So I was forced to glean what I could from tweets and box scores. 

  • The offense came back to life as the Cougars hit 13 of 26 three ball attempts and actually got to the line 22 times (hitting 17). The 13 three pointers was one shy of the season total set in the last home game against William & Mary.
  • Canyon Barry reminded us that the future is bright for Rick Barry's youngest son. He put up a season-high 27 points coming off the bench and shot over 50% from the field, behind the arc and from the charity stripe.  Canyon's biggest issues right now are his ball handling and shooting percentages; if those continue to improve he'll become a hell of a player. 
  • The Cougars held a narrow edge on the boards, 37-35
  • David Wishon was able to give good minutes off the bench for a second straight game with Baru slightly hobbled by his knee issues. The Ginja Ninja had 6 points and 5 rebounds in just 15 minutes of play.
  • The opening 3-pointer by Judson Hall is what senior night is all about. Last year, seldom used Bart Benton was made a starter and he responded with a basket that caused the crowd to erupt. The set play to get Judson a wide open three is a nice tip of the cap by Wojcik and the younger Hall responded by draining it to everyone's delight. I really like keeping up that tradition.
  • As the offense took a step forward, the defense took a step back. Wojcik cannot be happy with his guys giving up 89 points - even if it Delaware is the league's best offense.
  • Jarvis Threatt, who was suspended the first time these teams met, gave the Blue Hen offense a whole new look. He got to the line at will and had 13 assists on the afternoon. The CAA is a guard-oriented league and Threatt played like an all-league point guard yesterday against CofC's defense. 
Despite the Cougar's efforts, Delaware played like the superior team they are down the stretch. Don't forget, the top seed and automatic NIT bid were not guaranteed unless they beat CofC. Fortunately for the Cougs they only fell to the 6th seed and will face William & Mary (the team they blew out of the water three games ago) in the first round of the CAA Tournament in Baltimore. From there it's an uphill battle that will likely include another rematch with Delaware if the Cougars can advance. Look for full CAA Tournament previews this week. 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Last Home Game for Johnson, Thomas and the Brothers Hall

College of Charleston (14-16, 6-9)
University of Delaware (21-9, 13-2)
TD Arena
Tipoff at 2pm

Rather than stick to the typical preview style blog post formula, I'm switching things up before the final home game of the season. Revenge against the Delaware Blue Hens, after their outstanding comeback in Newark a few weeks ago, is the narrative going into the last regular season contest of the year - this game is about the four seniors. As tradition holds, all four senior members of the team will be honored throughout today's game and they each deserve our praises.

Judson Hall
The younger brother of star player and fellow senior Willis, Judson is a valuable member of the scout team and perhaps more importantly - a Raising Canes Killer. Willis has gotten the hype over the years but walk-ons like Judson sacrifice just as much time, energy and heart as they practice and travel with the team year after year. I hope this afternoon the fans at TD Arena recognize the other Hall's commitment to the program over the past four years and give him a raucous ovation.

Anthony Thomas
AT's college career was anything but typical. Growing up in The Dash (Winston-Salem for the uninitiated), Anthony signed on to play for former SoCon rival Appalachian State. After being used sparingly, AT took the road less traveled route to improving his game by transferring to Hutchinson Community College in Kansas, which Jeff McCarragher will be quick to reiterate - is in the middle of nowhere. It was after his sophomore season that Doug Wojcik's newly minted Charleston coaching staff noticed Thomas and offered him a spot on the team for his two remaining years of eligibility. 

Anthony was given the unenviable task of replacing one of the most talented and versatile players of this century at CofC in recently graduated small forward Antwaine Wiggins. On top of that he was coming into a new situation, new school, new coaching staff, new teammates...and exceled right away. AT has been a starter for nearly every game while he's been at CofC and he is rock steady in his role as the team's lockdown defender and a jack-of-all-trades who can chip in rebounds, steals and blocks in any game. He's a prototypical small forward and has been such an asset for Charleston as they moved up a competitive level to the CAA. 

My favorite memory of AT was the revenge-fueled beat down he put on his former team - App State - in TD Arena last year. He didn't even downplay his desire to show up the Mountaineers in pregame interviews and when Wojcik went to his 3 man early and often for point production, AT delived by relentlessly going to the rim and carrying helpless ASU defenders with him. Beast mode.

Nori Johnson
A personal favorite of mine, Nori Johnson's journey is similar to AT's in it's ebbs and flows. Nori came to Charleston as a late signing recruit in the pretty lauded Bobby Cremins class of 2010. That was the class that included Trent Wiedeman, Jordan Scott and James Carlton - a class that was built to ultimately replace the production of Cremins stellar first recruiting class (Goudelock, Monroe, Simmons, Wiggins). Early in his career Nori was overlooked in favor of those other three - Wiedeman with his instant impact, Scott and Carlton with their tantalizing athleticism. Three years later and only Nori Johnson is still here to walk across the Cistern.

Wiedeman, Scott and Carlton moved on to smaller stages after Cremins stepped down, while Nori still proudly wears Charleston on his jersey and now starts at shooting guard. But the path from afterthought to starter was not a direct progression. In his sophomore season, it took Mark Byington stepping in as interim coach and injuries to freshman Anthony Stitt for Nori to get an opportunity. His impact as a pure shooting outside sniper immediately proved to be just what the Cougs needed with Goudelock graduated. Once given the opportunity Nori proved he deserved the playing time.

Once Wojcik came in, Nori had the option to transfer. He was recruited to play in the three-point dependent Cremins system, not the defense-fueled Wojcik style. At first the decision looked to backfire immensely: Nori's minutes steadily dropped from the time Wojcik came in - reaching a lowpoint as the senior was relegated to DNP-Coach's Decision games all throughout the fall semester of this season. Freshman Canyon Barry was the team's fan crush starter on the wing but the Cougars still desperately needed three point shooting. It was a game against rival Citadel that Nori was given his opportunity - and he jumped headfirst into it by sinking 4 of 7 three pointers in his first significant action of the season.

It wasn't until the break between out-of-conference and CAA play that we learned why Nori had been used so sparingly when his abilities were so clear. Wojcik is a no nonsense coach both on and off the court. He demands discipline not just running the plays but when hitting the books as well - a departure from the slack that Cremins gave his guys. Nori had been struggling academically and was falling close to being a rare player to not graduate in Wojik's head coaching career. For that reason Nori had been glued to the bench, not until his mind and report card were straight could Coach reward him with playing time, senior or not.

It says a whole lot about Nori's character to know how he got to where he is now as the scorer on an offense starved team. He had every reason to be pissed at Wojcik, himself and his circumstances but he pushed through it all. You can see how much he has matured since he was lumped in with some of the clowns he entered Charleston with - you hear it in his interviews and you see it in the relationship he's developed with Coach Wojcik. Nori is very aware of how much better of a place he's in now - mentally and physically. It's paid off for the senior with a staring role on the team and a graduation date looming in May. 

Favorite memory: This dunk against Georgia Southern two years ago. The out-of-nowhere nature of it, the viciousness, the scream - so badass. 

Willis Hall
What can you say about Willis Hall that hasn't already been said by his coaches, his teammates, the school president and the NCAA? A star player with a walk-on's work ethic. A coach's favorite type of player. Captain and natural leader. Steph Curry record-breaker. Humanitarian and global ambassador for the College of Charleston. National Player of the Week. Graduate student. Workhorse. 

Willis Hall is the type of player and person I want associated with the College of Charleston for years to come. He's that rare type of collegiate player who absolutely relishes every minute of time at this school. He seems to have perspective on his career despite having not finished it - probably from the year he was forced to sit out after tearing his ACL- and leaves every game completely drained, having played it like it was his last. 

Willis came to CofC waaaay back in 2009 (hard to believe right?) and has seemingly been here for what feels more like a decade rather than half of that. He's the last remaining player who played on the team that defeated UNC inside Carolina First Arena in January of 2010. Back then Willis Hall was a nice complimentary piece as a freshman big man who could hustle and rebound coming off the bench. He wasn't the tallest or most athletic player in any game but he scrapped and clawed on every possession to give the Cougars the best shot at winning. 

As a sophomore Willis was happy to give the spotlight to the likes of Andrew Goudelock, Donovan Monroe and even freshman Trent Wiedeman. In year two it looked like we could all grasp the type of player Willis would be - a fan favorite for his effort, a killer backup or serviceable fill-in starter who was talented but ultimately limited by his physical tangibles. A torn ACL halfway through his college career had Willis miss an entire season to medical redshirting and ensured he would be handcuffed to Wiedeman for the remainder of his career.

In Wojcik's first season, Willis (in his true senior year) was asked to backup the two towers of Baru and Wiedeman. It didn't take long for the oft-injured Wiedeman to start missing time with injuries and Hall stepped in and became a perfect compliment next to Adjehi. His ability to space the floor with his three point shooting reduced some of the redundancy created by having Trent and Adjehi clogging the paint together and resulted in a Top 25 road win over Baylor and a strong final run through the SoCon.

Now a fifth year season coming into the fall, Willis - the grizzled and battle tested veteran, welcomed the opportunity to take on new CAA travel and opponent challenges in his final season. He has responded by putting together as solid a season as any big man in CofC history. He's the unquestioned leader and heart of the Cougars. He put up jaw dropping rebounding and point totals against Davidson and Howard. He's also delivered victories for the Cougars in two surefire would-be losses with buzzer beaters against UNC Charlotte and Drexel inside TD Arena.

Willis Hall is the one guy that the Cougars, players and fans alike, are going to miss most next year. Not just from a stats perspective but from everything else he brings to the table as well. He's a model student-athlete and someone who is universally respected and admired. Soak in everything that comes your way today Willis, you deserve it all.

Favorite memory: freshman Willis Hall clinches CofC's biggest win of the 21st century by snagging a game-snagging rebound and getting fouled.  Let the chills flow through your body. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Cougars Flip the Script: Just Kidding, They Lost Again

Final Score: Drexel 56, College of Charleston 45
Top Performers:
Frantz Massenat 24 pts (11-12 FT), 4 assts, 3 rebs
Theo Johnson 8 pts, 3 rebs, 2 blks

Last night was the last regular season conference road game for the Cougars. The last time the Cougars defeated a CAA team on the road was back on January 13th - their first conference road game. The game against Drexel followed the exact same script we have seen in nearly every other conference road game save for that one victory over Northeastern: the Cougs could not muster enough offense in the second half (a measly 17 points in the period) and gave away a halftime lead via untimely misses, lack of made free throws and turnovers. 

The scoring binge against the Tribe from a few weeks back is like a distant memory now, looking more like an anomaly of an up-and-down season rather than an optimistic turning point. The offense just can't routinely put up enough points to defeat opponents no matter how stingy Wojcik's defense and rebounding squad is. No one in maroon reached double figures. If I gave you Theo Johnson's stat line from last night you would welcome the nice bench performance from the seldom used wing player. But when I list Theo as the Cougar's top performer - it only drives home how putrid (searching for synonyms this late in the season) the CofC offense is. 

Frantz Massenat scored half as many points as the entire Cougar team did. He also attempted more free throws by himself than everyone who entered the game for Charleston (12 to 8). Like most opponents this year, the Dragons were held to a season low in point production for the first half. And like most opponents (especially those playing in their own gym) they came out with a reckless abandon in the second half, chasing down loose balls, driving to the rim and punching CofC in the mouth. The Cougars predictably fell apart. The minute the other team does something outside the scouting report is the minute all hope is lost for a Cougar win. 

It's a shame the Cougars dropped to 1 and 7 in CAA road games. Fortunately they avoid the play-in game with Hofstra's loss, but the Cougars still need to beat league leader Delaware in the finale to grab the 5th seed (4th is out of the question) and go into the Baltimore tournament with any semblance of momentum. It's also a shame that solid contributions from Wishon and Theo Johnson will go unnoticed. Their numbers were as minimal as the rest of the team, but the bench duo seems to have flipped a switch with bench partner Joe Chealey out. 

Wishon was able to bully his way to points by not over-thinking and using his immense size advantage on offense. He also made a few smart passes to cutting teammates in the paint - a trait that gives him value in Wojcik's inside-out system. The man on the receiving end of those passes was Theo Johnson: the only CofC player who does not seem averse to attacking the basket with or without the ball. Theo attempted half the teams eight free throw attempts and converted on 100% of them. He also brought his usual defense and had a couple blocks that seem way easier for him than any other player on the floor. 

The Cougars are a different team inside TD Arena and I really want them to send home the hardworking starting trio of Hall, AT and Nori with a revenge victory against Delaware on senior night. Like we've said since the Cougars dropped below .500 in league play, all that matters is the CAA Tournament in Baltimore with this being a one-bid league. The team is still outstanding at the areas of the game you need to win three games in three days. They play defense well enough to stay in every game, they out rebound most opponents and they have pretty good depth - especially if Chealey is back in time. 

If we beat Delaware, nab the 5th seed and put up enough points to convince me a trip to Baltimore is not a waste of time and money I'll hold onto that string of hope we'll be cutting down the nets in March. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Cougars Attempt to Take Hot Shooting on the Road

UNC Wilmington (8-21, 2-12)
College of Charleston (14-14, 6-7)
Trask Coliseum, Wilmington, NC
Tipoff at 7pm on MyTV Charleston or $4.95 stream here

Few, scratch that - no one, predicted CofC's offensive explosion against William & Mary after the two stinkers they had put up in previous games. Now we get to see if a team capable of putting together both sides of the winning formula was merely a flash in the pan or a sign of good things to come. That test comes against UNCW, the last-place CAA team and potential coastal rival. It's Homecoming for the Seahawks so they won't go without a fight. In order to cement themselves as the 4th seed in Baltimore the Cougars need to take care of business on the road against the Dub.

What happened last time these teams met
Nori Johnson scored 23 points and the Cougars overcame turnovers, missed dunks and a sloppy first half of play to pull away from the Seahawks 75-70 inside TD Arena. The Seahawks remained winless in the conference after that loss while the Cougars improved to 3-2 in the CAA. Leading the way for Wilmington was guard Chris Dixon, who would drive the lane and get a tough basket every time the Cougars started to pull away. He finished with 21 points in defeat.

Since then
The Dub finally picked up their first league win (and a second) in consecutive games on February 10th and 13th against Towson (!) and Northeastern respectively. Coach Buzz Peterson has done it with strong bench production - more on that below - and a stretch of good play during a tough 4-games-in-8-days schedule period. Junior big man Ced Williams continues to be the teams best player, even if he didn't show it against Charleston, leading the 'Hawks in points and rebounds.

Wilmington's "line changes". Olympic fever has clearly struck a chord with Buzz Peterson because over the last four games or so he has installed a hockey-style substitution pattern. I would not have believed it unless I saw it live in the JMU-UNCW game a few days ago when Peterson chose to switch out all five starters for a fresh five man unit of subs in the first half. Unorthodox yes, but the strategy has helped Wilmington play their best stretch of basketball all season. As the Dub Hub mentioned in their preview of today's game, each "line" has their own strengths. The starters include the talented front court duo of Williams and Shane Reybold who can provide the offense opposite senior guards Dixon and Milson. The second unit does not have the same talent level obviously but they are an athletic bunch that can throw enough jabs at the opponent until a refreshed starting group enters back into the game.

The Cougars have yet to face a team displaying such a tendency and it doesn't help that they will be without 6th man Joe Chealey. It's unfair to expect the Cougars to shoot as well as they did against W&M but the shots need to fall for the starters because after Canyon Barry there are not many scoring options beyond the tightened rotation.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Cougar Offense Comes Alive in 87-54 Rout of Tribe

Final Score: College of Charleston 87, William & Mary 54
Top Performers:
Willis Hall 21 pts, 9 rebs, 3 assts, 2 blks
Tim Rusthoven 13 pts, 3 rebs

Just when I thought the offense couldn't get any more putrid, they go and do something like this....and totally redeem themselves!! After putting up point totals of 47 and 44 against Drexel and Northeastern respectively, CofC almost got to those numbers combined by hanging up a cool, Raising Cane's finger-licking delicious 87 on the William & Mary Tribe. Better yet, the defense didn't skip a beat. The Cougs held Marcus Thornton to 9 points on 3-12 shooting and the vaunted Tribe offense only amassed 54 points inside TD Arena.

Looking as smooth and lethal offensively as they have all year (not overly rigid and methodical), the Cougars shot season highs all across the board. 64% from the field, 63.6% from behind the arc (14 of 22), 5-for-5 from the free throw line. Wojcik chose not to milk the clock at any point, the guys were putting up shots early and often and best of all, they weren't rimming out. Willis, Nori and Canyon were all finally hitting the open looks that have been there all year and the confidence showed. Even Anthony Thomas stroked a three.

It accounted to the highest scoring total of the year for Charleston - 2 points shy of the 89 they put up against Furman on November 23rd. The win could not have come at a better time from a morale perspective. Not only were the Cougars' tournament seed possibilities dwindling after the NU loss, but the team got some bad news earlier in the day. Joe Chealey, who had been nursing soreness in his knees the past few weeks, had a minor procedure that had him in crutches for this game and ruled out indefinitely. He hopes to be back by the CAA Tournament but the blow is a big one for a team that has struggled with turnovers and now has just one point guard in Anthony Stitt. In Chealey's place, Wojcik had Canyon play extended minutes running the show. Barry had 2 turnovers but he also had 17 points, 5 assits and 4 rebounds off the bench.

We've lamented often about what this team would be capable of if they could combine the nights when their offense is showing out (like it did against Citadel, Davidson, Hofstra) and when the defense is in lockdown mode. Tonight was perhaps the closest to a perfect combination we've seen all year. Not only were the shots not falling for the Tribe and splashing for the Cougs, but CofC also shut the door on the boards 36 to 18.

Great win for Charleston to stop what could have been a late season free fall (reflective of the microcosm of most games, no?). The 4th seed is still up for grabs in this wild conference and the chances of falling to the un-winnable 8-9 play-in game is becoming a smaller threat <knock on wood>.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Lack of Offense Dooms "Deflated" Cougars Yet Again

Final Score: Northeastern 60, College of Charleston 44
Top Performers:
Scott Eatherton 22 pts (3-3 3pt), 10 rebounds
Joe Chealey 11 pts (4-5 FT), 2 blks, 18 mins

Just when it seemed safe to say the Cougars were turning a corner, they go and do something like this. I guess we should have seen it coming. After all, they did only put up 47 points in a win over Drexel on Thursday. If you thought that offensive display was troubling, don't bother looking at the box score from yesterday; which somehow makes the Cougars' shooting woes throughout this game look better than they actually were.

Right out of the gates Northeastern jumped on Charleston inside TD Arena. The Huskies opened the game on a 13-2 run as their bench hooted and hollered every time Eatherton swished an unguarded three pointer. Conversely, the Cougars missed a number of open looks within 4 feet of the basket. Offensive putbacks, Adjehi Baru (who missed his first 7 shots) and Willis Hall jumpers all clanged off the iron or never touched anything.

And to be honest the Cougars never really got back on track after that rough start. The defense and rebounding are never the problem - it's the reason the Cougars were able to trim the lead to two possessions on separate occasions and it's the team's only option for winning with how unproductive they can be offensively. But Wojcik highlighted an alarming and depressing issue in the postgame conference. He said that the missed shots early on led to a deflated attitude the rest of the game. It's one thing to miss shots, it happens to everyone, but most of the Cougars looked lethargic on the court.

Despite falling behind by double digits multiple times, CofC only attempted 10 free throws. That shows a lack of aggression on the part of the Cougs and offers a hint as to why they could only muster 44 points. The looks CofC normally gets in games were there last night - Baru facing one-on-one defense, Stitt in the corner for a three etc but the shots were not falling. Once that became evident there was no way to produce easy baskets. No one rolling to the rim or driving the lane and the bigs weren't hitting shots from point blank range.

Wojcik experimented with a myriad of different lineups but the lack of scorers on this team outweighs any defensive depth the team might have. Install a three guard lineup and you lose your offensive rebounding opportunities - just fewer possessions to put the ball in the basket. You can try switching out Baru and Hall but Wishon is not going to put up points; in 4 minutes of play he had his shot blocked and turned the ball over. The guards are all streaky shooters.

When these teams played in January, Anthony Thomas was the star. Last night he posted a big fat goose egg in points (he took one attempt from the field) and had a single rebound. Adjehi was 3 of 10 from the floor. Willis was short on almost everything, chucking up two air balls and going 4-12 from the field (0-4 from three).

If you're looking for a positive - Joe Chealey and Canyon Barry, two freshmen coming off the bench, were responsible for 8 of the 10 free throw attempts, CofC's only double digit scoring totals and 21 of the team's 44 points. Aside from Willis, who always plays his ass off every night, the freshmen (who were joined by their classmates to close out the game) were the only ones who didn't seem to hang their heads.

It was that disheartened mentality that allowed the Huskies to beat the Cougars so decisively in the second half. Eatherton got uncontested looks outside the paint and Reggie Spencer completed a series of three-point plays as the Cougars just hacked at him as he went to the basket. A brief late game run by the home team was both a welcome sight and an insulting development. For a few short minutes the guys actually looked desperate and competitive - how they should have been playing from the opening minutes - but it was too little too late. Aside from being a bad loss in itself, this game just reinforces our biggest fears about this year's team.