(Biddeford ME) What a game!
The front-runner for Coach-of-the-Year in the Commonwealth Coast Conference has got to be Ed Silva of the University of New England.
A team content to nurse every possession down to the last few seconds in years past transformed itself into a run-and-gun club in the nine-month offseason.
Gordon ran into the new-and-improved Nor’easters tonight, and despite a second-half rally, lost 121-113 on Wednesday in the CCC opener for both teams.
I had seen the stats from UNE’s first five games and had seen a team that was putting up 3’s and forcing mistakes on the opposition. Gordon (1-2) fell victim to both categories in the first half. While UNE made nine 3’s in the first half the Scots committed an unremarkable EIGHTEEN turnovers in that same half. Wicked bad combo!
Trailing 60-44 at the half, and the way UNE was playing, I had a sense that a serious blowout was about to happen. That sense was nonsense as GC began to look for answers off the bench and found some. The Nor’easters weren’t giving any ground but at least GC was better taking care of the ball.
Down twenty-four points (97-71) with seven minutes left the Scots put together the best combo of scoring and defense I may have ever seen for the next six minutes. UNE’s quick shot approach turned sour as they cooled off and Gordon made appropriate passes and a steady flow of shots and got the lead down to five, 114-109, in the last minute. That’s thirty-eight points in six minutes!
But it was too little too late. UNE, and I credit Coach Ed Silva for this, changed the tempo to a more controlled approach. He used his timeouts to rest his players and organize them. It interested me that previously he called timeouts just to substitute players and then cut the timeouts short. It was a whole new approach.
Anyhow, in the closing minutes the Nor’easters took advantage of GC’s need to overplay the UNE perimeter shooters and drove against single defenders. That approach drew fouls and on this evening those foul shots dropped and the home team had a CCC win.
Gavin Dibble put up the big numbers for UNE with twenty-five points. Just to get an idea of the style of play, UNE had FIFTEEN different players score in the first half! They were coming in in waves with the green light shining for anyone with an opening.
One casualty in this game was the Efficiency Chart. I usually put the top five in the game and normally there are at least two from each team unless the game was one-sided.
Gavin Dibble 32
Garrisson Duvivier 31 (19 pts, 16 reb, 4 assts)
Eric Demers 28 (29 pts, 8 reb)
Josh Ribeiro 16 (4 assts,3 blk, 2 stls) Birthday today
Jaren Yang 13 (6 assts, 8-for-8 FTs)
That’s the top five and you would want to think that Gordon dominated the game. But UNE countered the GC top four with fifteen contributors. Gordon finished with a remarkable 133 on the Efficiency chart while UNE earned only a 94. Maybe that Efficiency stat isn’t as great as I think it is?
It certainly didn’t hurt the home team that they got hot in the first half and turned a 12-8 deficit into a comfortable 43-23 spread in eleven minutes. That 31-15 segment (included six successful UNE 3’s) may have been the worst GC basketball I have seen in a while.
But it was that kind of game with plenty of good and also plenty of not so good.
One of the struggles GC had in the first half was finishing breaks. When the Scots broke through the UNE’s backcourt pressure there were some glittering opportunities for layups. Not all of them were made.
UNE (2-4) was picked by the coaches to finish 8th (out of ten teams) in the CCC. I wonder where those same coaches would place UNE now?
Teams that rely on a few players playing long minutes to give them most of their points will be in trouble against the UNE style. The team from Biddeford (ME) prevents teams from controlling the tempo and if their long shots are dropping, good luck.
You couldn’t help but be distracted by the three UNE students under the basket GC was shooting at. Why they hadn’t painted UNE on the front of them was obviously an oversight. My theory, based on the website visuals, was that this was the before part of the before-and-after weight-loss program they were starting. Coming to the basketball court instead of the food court would be the key piece in the transition they would be undertaking. Their calisthenics showed not only promise but plenty of loose baggage. Changing their physiques from trunk to carry-on will take time but I, for one, admire their intensity.
Gordon gets Nichols next. That may not be pretty. Nichols blasted Endicott tonight. The Scots will have to find ways to match up with some very good one-on-one players in Dudley (MA) on Saturday to win this one.