Stonemill already broke up with you (see post below) – which was kinda creepy in a way – but his message is right. So we bid adieu to the sweet, sweet blue uniforms and welcome back the home whites.
I went to the game, and here are some random and disjointed thoughts after being in UD Arena tonight.
- I used my vast media connections to obtain a media credential for the game. That is to say, I called Doug Hauschild the day before the game, and he said, “Media credential? Sure, we’ll have one for ya.” Big time program they’re running here.
Unfortunately, they stuck me up in the shitty press row. You know, the one in Section 301 right behind the Flyer Radio guys. I half-expected Mike Giangreco to show up and broadcast the game. Mercifully, he did not.
- In the media room, I sat at the same table as a guy named Mel Daniels. Later, I found out from Mel Daniels’ wikipedia page* that he is a former ABA MVP and Rookie of the Year. He spent some time playing for the Cincinnati Royals and is now the director of player personnel for the Indiana Pacers. If I’d know any of this, I’m not sure what I would have done. Maybe asked him if he was there to scout B-Rob, or probably sat in semi-awkward silence … which I did anyway.
- Speaking of the media room, they are no longer serving delicious Papa John’s pizza like they did while we were in school. They instead provided a selection of lunchmeat sandwiches. Weak. Needless to say, I was disappointed. Needless to say, I ate the sandwiches anyway.
- I’m shocked it took until the 16th game of the season for a team to defend B-Rob like this. They ran two defenders at him on almost every single possession. They trapped him, doubled him, denied him the ball and did basically everything to get the ball out of his hands. The worst news: now every team we play from here on out has a blueprint to work off of.
That’s a message for you, BG. Start drawing up plays for what to do when teams attack Roberts like UMass did tonight.
- In a related note, Travis Ford is going to be a coaching star. The good news for everyone in the A10 except UMass is that he’s not gonna be there too much longer. He is going to do some big things.
That team was so well-prepared and disciplined tonight. To play as fast as they do on offense and only turn the ball over six times all night speaks volumes. Plus, you factor in the great job they did on Roberts, especially in the first half. PLUS, they had all of other guys so well-scouted. They played waaaaaay off London Warren all night long, practically daring him to shoot. They let Sandoval get open looks too, knowing of his cancerous nature. But they knew to get out on Binnie and Perry, our better shooters. Great coaching job, and you know I hate complimenting anyone who has anything to do with Kentucky.
- Milligan was getting any shot he wanted all night. I’m surprised they didn’t go inside to him more often (6-8 from the field, 13 points). Not Kurt’s best game, especially on the defensive end, but I suppose he’s entitled to an off night.
- We looked like the Flyers of the last two or three seasons at times tonight, and that isn’t a compliment. We were struggling to get the ball inbounds, playing poor transition D and looking absolutely lost on offense any time the ball wasn’t in B-Rob’s hands.
- When you start out so slow – down 15-3 and 21-7 at the beginning of the game – sometimes you expend all your effort and energy getting back into the game. Then, when you finally come all the way back, you don’t have anything left to push you over the top and throw a knockout punch. Maybe that’s what happened tonight. Or maybe you just have to tip your hat to UMass for withstanding all of our runs and surges and, instead of getting rattled or folding, punching back and hanging on for the W.
- If you told me B-Rob would have exactly zero field goals and just two points in the first half, I’d have said we’d be down way more than five at the break.
- Their modified box-and-one defense gave us fits all night. We looked clueless as to what offense we were supposed to run. Man-to-man sets or zone O? The coaching staff needs to learn from this and develop a game plan for the other guys to score.
- When we went on an 8-0 run to go up 57-56, I thought UMass would feel the heat and let the Flyers pull away. They didn’t … but it’s like Stonemill said below. If we have an average shooting night, we probably sneak out with a win. To go 4-of-25 from three (Binnie 0-6, Perry 1-7) is the exception, not the rule.
- UD did do some good things in this game. When you outrebound a team by 15 (and by 11 on the offensive glass) and outscore a team 40-20 in the paint, you’re going to win a lot of ball games. Like I said above, I thought we lost their good shooters too often in transition. Harris, Brower and Lowe combined to shoot 10-18 from three-point range. I’m sure that’s well above their average.
- I went to the post-game stuff. Why? Not sure, I’m a glutton for punishment I guess. Quote from Travis Ford: “We tried to focus on Roberts as much as we could.” That’s the early frontrunner for understatement of the year.
UMass also changed its starting line-up for this game and didn’t press the full 40 minutes for the first time all year.
- Tough loss for sure, but it's hard for me to get way down on the Flyers. If you told me we'd be 14-3 in late January, I would have been positively giddy. The fact that we have a decent shot at starting out 15-2 and winning at Xavier for the first time in a billion years is great. But it's not a must-win game by any means.
*which means any or all of this may be false.