Wow. Talk about a different team. Not only are the Deacs 3-0, and not only have they been down by no more than 4 at any point so far this year, the vibe on this team is just completely different. NCCU gave the Deacs all they wanted in the first half, with the teams tied at the break, but the Deacs jumped out to an 8 point lead early in the second and never looked back.
There are persistent issues, which I'll get to, but it was a very pretty second half of basketball, and once again, this game had a different quality to either of the others played so far. It's exciting to see such varied contributions from all of the (admittedly) undermanned Deacs this year. Fair warning: I only caught this game on ESPN3, so my analysis might not be quite as comprehensive or accurate. That said, for individual notes and more specific analysis...
Read more after the jump....-Our offense in this game was just beautiful. 23 assists on 34 baskets, with only 10 turnovers. An absolutely absurd 70.6% shooting from 3 on 17 attempts. A decent 13-20 from the line (10-14 from the second half). 16 points on the fast break. 24 points off of NCCU's 17 turnovers. Genuinely, you'd be hard pressed to find much to complain about offensively here, as evidenced by the 93 points, I guess. The ONLY problem is that we missed some easy layups, though as I recall that was pretty much exclusively a first half problem. We shot 60.6% in the second half, 57.6% overall for the game. I'm sure Coach will take that any day.
-Our defense was okay, not great. Certainly not anything terrible, with NCCU shooting 43.4% overall for the game, 36.4% from 3 (the overall numbers were almost identical between the halves and literally identical from 3). Our defense needs to tighten up more for sure, but there was solid play from many of the Deacs tonight, and some of the threes especially were NBA Jam-style shots that really aren't guardable. Also several easy buckets came off of NCCU offensive rebounds. Rebounding is unquestionably our biggest issue this year, though it is worth noting that NCCU is almost comically experienced. I don't think anyone in their starting 5 was under 22. Also our rebounding got a lot better in the second half as I recall. The Deacs caused 17 turnovers, including 7 steals as a team.
Now for individual notes:
-Travis McKie led all scorers with 25 points, and chipped in 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and a steal. Travis hit 4-5 from 3, and 3-4 from the line as well.
-C.J. Harris was a truly impressive 8-11 from the field, 2-2 from 3, 4-5 from the line for 22 points, plus a rebound, 4 assists and a steal with only 2 turnovers.
-Nikita Mescheriakov had his best game as a Deac to date, with 15 points including a perfect 3-3 beyond the arc, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, a block, and a steal. I really get the feeling that Nikita is beginning to truly find his identity as a Deac.
-Carson Desrosiers had a rather quiet game stat-wise, with 4 points, 4 rebounds, an assist, and a block. Carson played hard defensively, though (the officials robbed him of another clean block) and those 4 points came on only 3 shots, so it's not as if Carson was bricking shots all over the place or anything. I honestly think our perimeter game was working so beautifully that Coach didn't see much of a need to turn to the big man this game offensively.
-Tony Chennault had what I'd call his best game, scoring 13 points, and chipping in 6 assists, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals, with only 2 TO's. I'll take a 3:1 A:T ratio from a point guard any day, personally. It's also worth noting TC had a key play in the explosive start to the second half, stealing an inbounds pass after a Wake score and getting an easy layup.
-Anthony Fields, by contrast, had probably his worst game, though it was still a solid outing. 3 points (on 1-1 shooting and 1-2 from the line), 2 assists (one of which was an absolutely gorgeous alley-oop to Travis), 2 rebounds, and 3 TO's in 11 minutes. Anthony's high energy defense continued, too. He was indirectly responsible for an NCCU turnover, forcing the man he was guarding to step out of bounds.
-Daniel Green had an alright night for what is to be expected of him. In 7 minutes he had a point and 4 rebounds (2 offensive) and one of his 3 quick fouls came from him really hustling for the ball.
-Chase Fischer had a very good night as well, 10 points on 4-5 shooting, 2 rebounds, 2 steals, and 5 assists without a single turnover. There were times tonight where Chase looked almost like a point guard, and I have to say it was really cool to see another dimension to his game.
To recap so far, we're winning the games we should, and we've gotten big performances out of literally everyone on the roster at some point this year. 13 offensive rebounds for our opponents is a HUGE problem, but it's really difficult to complain too much when you get 5 double-digit scorers on a generally young, 8 man rotation and go to a 3-0 record with your largest margin of victory yet (for all intents and purposes it was 17; an Eagles player hit a 3 at the buzzer). I'm starting to wonder (and hope) if our rebounding will be solidified once Ty Walker comes back for the second half of the year.
It really seems like this team is starting to find their identity and their chemistry, their cuts keep getting better, their defense remains energetic if flawed, and there really is no selfish play from this team to be found so far. I'll be really curious to see how they perform against Dayton. It'll be a long year, but if the first few games are any indication, probably nowhere near as long as last. As always, comments/additions/suggestions/feedback appreciated.
Go Deacs. Rollin' Ronin out.