By Peter McClelland
(Amherst) Gordon coach Mike Schauer resisted saying the obvious after his team was blown out by the Amherst Lord Jeffs, 104-72, in the opening round of the Ken Wright ’52 Memorial Invitational Tournament at LaFrak Gymnasium in Amherst on Friday night. It was the first game for both teams.
How bad was Gordon? Coach Schauer wouldn’t go there.
“It is a difficult game for me to even evaluate other than the obvious that they are so much better than we are,” explained Schauer. “We’d like to be at their level but we aren’t close yet.”
Amherst was ranked 14th nationally in a preseason poll by D3 Hoops after winning 25 games in 2002-03. They graduated their three best players but looked to those in attendance to be as strong as ever. After seeing what the Jeffs did to Gordon you have to wonder what they’ll do to Colby-Sawyer (a Gordon CCC rival) when Amherst travels to New London (NH) later on in the season. It was probably better to get this type of opponent behind you as early as possible!
The Scots did get off to a nice start (10-2 after three minutes) but once the Jeffs abandoned the 3-pointer for a while things went south in a hurry. Amherst ran off 20 unanswered points and never looked back.
“I didn’t want to see that 10-2 start but we were doing everything from the outside and not hitting,” explained Amherst coach David Hixon. After the best timeout of the night the hosts went inside first and found nothing but openings for layup after layup.
“We haven’t had a scrimmage yet so it was our first time against outside competition and it took us a while to get going,” added coach Hixon.
It was one thing to see the offense making things look easy but then the Jeff’s defense (man-to-man) got going as well and we watched turnovers turn into layups. Gordon had an astounding 17 turnovers in that first half which greatly helped create a 52-30 halftime deficit.
Things were not going to change in the second half. Coach Hixon found minutes for 17 players and Amherst was still able to shoot 56% (18 for 32). “I had no intention of running up the score and we subbed early but the players coming off the bench were hot too,” said Hixon.
The Scots were hurt by the Jeffs’ ability to deny open 3-point shots for most of the game. “Our guard-to-guard switching was effective,” added Hixon.
An optimistic spin to all this was that when Gordon avoided the turnover (26 for the game) and Amherst’s exterior defense, they shot quite well – 23 for 44 (52%). Hayes Murray was 5 for 9 (18 points). Ryan Smith was 5 for 8 (15 points) and newcomer Mike Herr was 5 for 6 (12 points).
“People won’t know how good our team is by the way this game went,” explained coach Schauer. “Last year’s team (20-7) would have had just as much trouble with these guys I suspect.”
Both coaches liked the play of freshman Jerry Logan in the second half. In 10 minutes of action the youngster handled the ball a lot without a turnover and set up two baskets. He also was 4 for 4 from the foul line. “Maybe we’ve found ourselves a point guard,” offered coach Schauer.
The Scots return to action tomorrow afternoon against the Framingham State/Salve Regina loser. A better outcome should be expected.