In what was my first game on the radio for WSOU this season (with many more to come!), the Pirates used a nice run in the second half to pull away from the hot-starting Yale Bulldogs and get a solid, 11-point victory. It was a rainy, miserable night outside, and for a while, it looked like Yale couldn't miss. But for 7 minutes in the second half, Yale couldn't hit, and the Pirates came away with the W to move to 4-1 on the season.
Here are the 5 Thoughts:
- Fuquan the Ninja
Fuquan Edwin scored a career-high 20 PTS tonight, and I didn't even notice until I looked at a box score. What it really was was the continuation of an excellent season for the sophomore from Paterson, but he really was exceptional tonight. On Hall Line, we hypothesized about why Jordan Theodore and Herb Pope get all the publicity while Edwin just plays well almost all the time. The same caller also mentioned that Fu's one "dud" came against Northwestern, the only Pirate loss. Edwin's a pretty quiet person, so perhaps it's just his nature, but he has a way of sneaking up on you with the number he puts up. The Bulldogs could have mistaken him for a ninja, with his 5 STL on the night to go with those points.
- Herb the Ubiquitous
Pope was stellar yet again. This time he wasn't hitting everything he threw up there, in fact it was far from that (8-18 FG), but he put up 17 PTS, 10 REB, 3 AST, 3 BLK and 3 STL tonight, jetting all over the place and making plays. Two notable ones were when he dove for a loose ball on the sideline near halfcourt and saved it to Haralds Karlis who was then fouled. Then he blocked Yale's Greg Mangano on the baseline, got the loose ball in the corner, spun around him and dribbled up the court, AND dished to Edwin for a layup. He's just on a different level right now. Could you imagine if he got more of those shots to fall? He missed a couple of the in-and-out variety. He really could have had 20+ PTS, but we're REALLY splitting hairs with that one. He's just been nothing short of fantastic this year.
- The 2-3 Zone Cometh
The Pirates took control of this game with a remarkable run (ironically, ANOTHER 15-0 run) as they held the Bulldogs without a single point for about 7 minutes. This run, though, was not about instant offense. It was an adjustment from a man defense to a 2-3 zone defense that confused the daylights out of Yale. I mentioned on-air that when the Pirates play the 2-3 zone well, they're at their best, and it showed tonight. Karlis in particular was great at the top of the zone, and a rotation of Grennan, Edwin and Theodore did their best at the other top position. Great job by all involved, including Coach Willard for adjusting.
- Bench Play
It may not have shown up in the box score as points, but collectively, Sean Grennan, Haralds Karlis and Aaron Geramipoor were huge. Herb Pope only played 31 minutes after averaging over 35 in the first 4 games, while Jordan Theodore played just 33 after playing the entire game twice in the first 4 games. This is a homestretch where the bench can really help out the starters, specifically Pope and Theodore, in terms of helping to keep their minutes down a little. It will matter once we get into Big East play, and the bench stepped up tonight.
- Called It!
I said before that Patrik Auda could have a bounce-back game in the Game Preview. Statistically, he scored 12 PTS and grabbed 5 REB, so that's certainly bouncing back. However, you also saw 5-9 FT shooting and 5 TO from Auda, and those are too little and too many respectively. He also had trouble on inbounds passes late in the game. So Patrik still has some work to do, but those errors are easily correctable.