By Peter McClelland
(Salem) Gordon coach Mike Schauer knew what he was up against when he decided to make up the snowed out game with Nichols on Monday. That decision had his team playing one of the toughest teams on the schedule with no rest and no practiced game plan.
“I would play back-to-back games in a heartbeat for a conference win,” explained coach Schauer. And so the Scots faced a rested Salem State Vikings team on the road and were dispatched with relative ease 82-61 in a nonleague game in Salem on Tuesday evening.
“We knew that they’d be tired and so we pressed them and tried to force them to work hard on offense,” said Viking coach Sean Doherty afterwards.
Digging deep the Scots got off to a good start. An Aaron Vogelzang lay-up capped an 8-point run and Gordon was ahead 12-9 six minutes in. “The team refused to believe that Salem was that much better than us going in,” said coach Schauer.
After the good start, however, the wheels came off the wagon in a hurry. “They’re bigger and stronger than we are and we just couldn’t match up with them man-to-man for very long,” added coach Schauer. So out came a seldom-practiced matchup zone and the Vikings started to roll.
Five minutes of playing time later SSC had put together a 13-2 run dominating inside and draining a couple of three’s. A resounding rebound jam by Ifesinashi Anosike highlighted this segment as the Vikings took command 23-14.
That lead would climb to 18 (43-25) and be 45-31 at halftime.
Coach Doherty wanted more from his team in the second half. “I thought that we were too quick to shoot in the first half although we were making shots. I stressed patience at halftime. We wanted to let the offense come to us. It seemed to work because we got the shots we wanted in the second half.”
And it was a nice half to watch – if you were a Vikings’ fan. It had the makings of an instructional video on unselfish play. Every extra pass seemed to turn up a better shot. SSC had 20 assists in the game.
At the other end the Scots were discovering that tired legs make it a struggle to run their patient offense and quick shots were launched most of the second half.
The Vikings put together a 16-5 run over five minutes early in the second half and erased all doubts about the outcome going ahead 63-42 at the 13-minute mark. The highlight maker on this spurt was Allen Reid who made a 4-pointer on one play and came back on the next possession with a trey.
“We have plenty of guys who can score,” said coach Doherty. “The ultimate success of our season will be based on how well we defend. This was one of our better efforts against Gordon.’
Coach Doherty cited the effort of sophomore Shawn Bloom. “He had 31 in our loss to Plymouth State but came to me in practice more interested in defense asking to defend Gordon’s top scorer (Hayes Murray).” Hayes ended up with 14 but none of them were easy shots.
Ryan Smith led the Scots with 21 points. “He was very tough to guard,” said coach Doherty.
The Vikings had four players in double figures – Bobby Michalczyk (19), Allen Reid (13), Wilkins Victor (12), and Ifesinashi Anosike (10 points to go along with 10 rebounds and 3 blocks).
Playing against Salem State gave coach Schauer some recruiting insight. “We’ve got to get bigger and I’ve got to recruit some bigger people. We’re just not physically able to defend a team like Salem in the post.”
“We’ll get better and we’ve had a pretty good first semester, in fact, better than I thought we would. I’m not displeased with where we are (4-3).”
Ahead for Gordon are exams, a Christmas break, and then back for practice on December 28th before heading to California on December 31st. The Scots will play UMass (Dartmouth) in the first round of the Whittier Tournament on January 2nd.
Salem State (4-2) entertains UMass (Boston) on Thursday night at home.