First of all, thank you to the editor for the lovely complements at the end of the postgame reaction post. It is greatly appreciated. My next play-by-play assignment is the Louisville game, so mark your calendars!
Anyway, this game was closer than I thought it was, but still a relative blowout. I covered a lot of these in the postgame and on Hall Line on WSOU, but here are my 5 thoughts:
- Paterson Produces
Why get a Mac when you can get an excellent connection with a PC? As in Paterson Catholic.
Jordan Theodore and Fuquan Edwin were on the same wavelength tonight. Both scored 17 PTS, but did so in different ways. Theodore dropped three long balls, while Edwin found the open gaps in the Lancers defense all night long for easy baskets off of feeds from Theodore and Keon Lawrence (more on him in a moment). The two former Cougars had a combined ONE turnover while Edwin played more minutes than any other Pirate. Tremendous effort from both PC alums.
- Jackson Grounded
Jamel Jackson came out firing like a semi-automatic machine gun, shooting deep balls like the McLoone's T-shirt Toss machine. Unfortunately, he just didn't have it tonight. Considering that he shot 45% on threes coming into tonight's 1-9 performance, I'll give him one bad game. He had plenty of open looks, but he just didn't knock them down tonight. It is no reason to complain about his consistency. Coming into tonight, he was perhaps the one Pirate who had played his role to perfection, and Coach Willard has given Jackson confidence that he didn't have last season.
- Keon's benching
I was concerned when we neither saw nor heard anything from Lawrence in the first half. Considering that he was playing much better basketball in the last two days, it was puzzling why he never got off the bench. On WSOU, we hypothesized that it was for disciplinary reasons. Willard refused to go into further comment, so we'll leave it at that. But in the second half, Keon was again very good- only two points, but 3 rebounds and five assists, as he ran the offense well when Theodore was on the bench. Add in his usual adhesive defense, and you have a player who can really help this team if he wants to. Let's hope that if it was disciplinary, that Keon has learned his lesson.
- The Line Change
After the first three minutes of the second half, the tally was (in the half) 9-2 Lancers. Willard, clearly ticked off with the defense, subbed out the starters and put in five subs at once, something you don't usually see anywhere other than in NBA Live. Willard sent a message loud and clear with this- either you play defense and focus, or you won't play.
- Body Language and Hustle
Ferrakohn Hall had a bad night. A REALLY bad night. But what made it worse was his non-verbal signals. He sulked and groaned with every new mistake, and that attitude was deemed by Coach Willard (correctly) to be a problem. He sat after he was taken out for the rest of the half. Now, Ferrakohn is a player who sometimes struggles with confidence, but he needs to learn how to take mistakes in stride. He isn't being coached by Bobby G anymore. Mistakes can be made under Willard as long as you can bounce back, and with that kind of body language, you won't be able to do that.
Meanwhile, Anali Okoloji (8 PTS/3 REB in 8 minutes) and Patrik Auda (27 minutes, 9 PTS/3 REB) outplayed Hall tonight. Auda's demeanor is the exact opposite of what Hall's was tonight; you will never see Auda hang his head, at least not before an announced crowd of over 5,000 (yeah, right), and Okoloji lives to hustle. Both of these players were great on Monday, and maybe some more chances for Okoloji are in order.