The Deacs handled their business tonight, coming up victorious against a very scrappy, highly competitive Georgia Southern squad. It wasn't a blowout like I had been hopeful for, and there are still things to be worked on, but there were improvements from last game, and it was a very different game than the game against Loyola in a variety of ways, so I'm glad to see that the Deacs can seemingly get wins against different styles of team and in different types of circumstances. Read some more specific assessments after the jump.
First, as always, The Good:
-Travis McKie is, once again, a man. 23 points on 8-12 shooting, perfect from the line, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks, including a clean block on what I'm pretty sure would've been a dunk otherwise. Travis also was all but solely responsible for what turned out to be a 6 point play when he got an and-1 on a Flagrant 1 (formerly intentional foul), made both free throws, and on the ensuing possession, got fouled shooting again and made both shots from the stripe there too. Travis also had some absolutely filthy dunks tonight. McKie's All-ACC campaign continues.
-C.J. Harris had 20 points (6-11 shooting, 5-8 from the line), a rebound, and 4 steals.
-Tony Chennault had 14 points (4-10 shooting, 6-7 from the line), 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals, and only 2 turnovers. Not a bad showing stat-wise, though I have some slight frustrations with TC that I'll get to later. Still a solid game from him though, there's no doubt about that one. He's definitely improving overall, and that's encouraging.
-Nikita Mescheriakov had 7 points (all from the line, 7-8), 4 rebounds, and an assist.
-Carson Desrosiers was solid for us once again, chipping in 4 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 blocks.
-Anthony Fields didn't score, but had a rebound, 4 assists, a beautiful steal, and no turnovers, and was once again extremely active on the defensive end.
-Chase Fischer finally found his stroke a bit, scoring 13 points (4-9 shooting, 2-7 from 3, 3-3 from the line) with 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, and only 2 turnovers. Very very solid night for him, especially since he had a very intense, momentum-shifting and-1 on a fast break. Chase showed fire out there not only for his own plays, but also for those of his teammates.
-80% FT shooting as a team on 34 attempts? MUCH better, fellas.
-The defense in the first half was very good, as we held them to 34.6% shooting.
-The Deacs forced 12 steals as a team. I honestly can't recall the last time I saw a Deacon squad that had hands this consistently active on the defensive end.
-The Deacs absolutely KILLED GS on turnovers, scoring 29 points off of the Eagles' 22 TO's.
-Though the Deacs turned the ball over, the Eagles couldn't capitalize well, scoring only 6 points off of the Deacs' miscues.
-15 turnovers. To be fair, 3 or 4 of those were on charges, and they were all pretty questionable from what I can recall.
-The second half D by the Deacs was pretty atrocious, as Georgia Southern shot 61.3%. Yikes.
-We got outrebounded again. Not so good, though Georgia Southern is also pretty big.
-The Eagles killed the Deacs' offense with the zone in the second half. Here's where I got frustrated with TC. He seemed absolutely petrified to drive to combat the zone about 90% of the possessions, but when he (and others, who admittedly also seemed skittish about really attacking the zone) did drive, good things came out of it. I don't know how much of it was a player issue and how much of it was Coach Bzdelik's instruction, but watching the Deacs almost exclusively pass it around the perimeter until they took a shot (admittedly many of them were good looks, and we know we have shooters) for long stretches was EXTREMELY frustrating. I'm POSITIVE guys like TC, Fields, and CJ have the skills to take guys like the ones they faced tonight off the dribble. They seemed genuinely afraid of the zone, and while I don't mind pass-heavy, motion offense on principle (it was GORGEOUS at times tonight; really good interior passing), I certainly hope it doesn't become a running theme that our boys are afraid to drive into the lane, particularly against teams with athletes with less raw talent (no disrespect to Georgia Southern, of course).
So that's 2 not-terrible mid-majors (Georgia Southern is picked 3rd in the SoCon behind Davidson and College of Charleston) down, and both games had very encouraging play from a variety of Deacs. You can just tell this team is full of energy, they care about each other, they want to be there, and they want to surprise some people this season. Whether or not they'll actually succeed does remain to be seen, but they most certainly seem to have the right attitude about it. The Deacs have NC Central on Sunday (I won't be there for that one) and then they head to Orlando for the Old Spice Classic, taking on Dayton first. I'm hoping they can continue the promising play there and hopefully get some more experience against probably better competition than what they've been facing.
Here's hoping the Deacs can continue their winning ways against NCCU on Sunday. Questions/comments etc. always welcome. 2-0 baby. Go Deacs.