Category Archives: Gordon Men’s Basketball 2007-08

Roger Williams Ends Gordon’s Season in Semifinals – Game #27

(Bristol RI) “A lot of these games come down to the last five minutes and whoever makes the plays wins,” explained CCC Coach-of-the-Year Mike Tully after watching his Hawks take Gordon out in the semifinals 67-66 at Roger Williams on Thursday night.

The last 5 ½ minutes of this one really did the Scots in.  Up until that point Gordon never trailed.  In fact, they even had a couple of nine point leads in the second half (38-29 at 17:35 and 40-31 at 15:35).  While building up those leads Gordon played the way they had done in the win Tuesday night against Wentworth.  However, if you recall the second half of the Wentworth game the Scots ran into a lengthy scoring drought but the Leopards were far enough behind that they couldn’t take advantage.

Gordon wasn’t as fortunate against Roger Williams.  Hanging on to a 51-50 lead after an Aaron Trigg (sophomore-6′1″-Overland Park KS) free throw with 5:48 to go the Scots went pointless in five possessions over the next four minutes.  Terrible timing because while Gordon missed, the CCC Player-of-the-Year Geoff Baringer didn’t.  The 6-10 senior (29 points in the game) broke down defenders for a couple of layups and then delighted the home crowd by converting a missed free throw for yet another layup.  Ryan McGinn added a couple of free throws at 1:37 to increase RWU’s lead to 58-51. 

Aaron Trigg finally ended the scoring disaster with free throws at 1:28 to make it 58-53.  It was still a two-possession game but junior Ryan McGinn took care of that with a three with 51 seconds left that Coach Tully could only describe as a “dagger.”  That Ryan ended up doing so much damage (13 points and 3-for-4 on 3’s) to Gordon was surely a big surprise to a lot of folks since he came into the game averaging 3.6 points per game and was only shooting 19.4% (7-for-36) from long range.

Ryan’s three gave RWU an eight point lead (61-53) in the last minute and prevented Gordon from getting within one possession of the lead.  The Scots did nail a trio of 3’s in the last twenty seconds but they were never shooting to tie or go ahead.  Therefore, the final score, 67-66, is misleading because Gordon’s last long shot by Aaron Trigg was made at the final buzzer.

Roger Williams now travels to Curry for the championship game on Saturday.  Curry became the #1 seed when they defeated the Hawks recently.  “Of course we’d like to have the championship game held here (and it would have been if Western New England had defeated Curry tonight) but the players want another shot at Curry,” said Coach Tully.  They will get what they wished for.

Coach Tully’s ability to elevate his team’s defensive effort in the second half was crucial.  “We didn’t have anywhere near enough intensity defensively.  They were doing whatever they wanted to.  We put in a couple of guys with about 14 minutes left after a timeout and things changed defensively.  A key player putting pressure on the ball was Travis O’Dell who hasn’t played in 2 ½ weeks.”

Coach Tully felt fortunate to beat Gordon.  “I say it all the time – I think that Gordon is the best team in the league.  Mike Schauer is a great coach.  His teams are difficult to guard and they guard real well.”

The Scots end 18-9 overall with a 9-4 record in the Commonwealth Coast Conference.  Remarkable at home (How does 14-1 sound?) they won four and lost eight away from the Bennett Center.  It may help that three of the CCC teams that beat them this year (Colby-Sawyer,Roger Williams,UNE) will be on the home schedule next year.

But any talk of next year opens up the topic of replacing the players the team is losing – Justin Kaufman (senior-5′11″-Redding CT), Jon Marstaller (senior-6′5″-Naples ME), Mike Schnackenberg (senior-6′6″-South Portland ME), and Keith Krass (Senior-6′2″-Beach Park IL).  Good basketball programs are going to lose good players from time to time.  Good basketball programs are also going to be able to rebuild around the players left.  We’ve seen enough of Brady Bajema (sophomore-6′2″-Whitinsville MA), Aaron Trigg, Ben Gaskill (sophomore-6′9″-Columbus OH), Jeff Derr (sophomore-6′8″-Barrington IL), and Tim MacDonnell (sophomore-6′2″-Jericho VT) to be very optimistic about the future.  Those players must, however, buy into the year-round dedication to basketball excellence that this year’s seniors bought into if that optimism is to turn into something special.  It can be done.

This crop of seniors, pictured at the top of this blog with their families, will be badly missed.  They’ve given us plenty of memories.  I would assume that they would be on hand occasionally during next season to offer encouragement and support.  I would assume that I would be asking them then what they’ve been doing.  I’ll also probably be asking them how their parents are doing because I’ve gotten to know them over the past four years as well.

God has blessed me in my being able to be on hand, and later describe, most of the games Gordon has played over the last six seasons.  I’ve been challenged often in sorting out the logistics that covering a game involves especially on the road.  However, the experience has been stimulating enough so that I look forward to doing it some more next season. 

Thanks again for the support and encouragement. 

boxscore Roger Williams 2-28-08

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Filed under CCC Tournament, Gordon Men's Basketball 2007-08, Roger Williams

Gordon Shoots by Wentworth in CCC Tourney First Round – Game #26

(Wenham) The expected nail-biter didn’t materialize as the Scots broke away from a tie game (18-18) with a 16-2 run and had enough good shooting the rest of the way to defeat Wentworth 73-61 in the first round of the Commonwealth Coast Conference playoffs on Tuesday evening at the Bennett Center. 

Gordon (18-8) will now face 2nd seed Roger Williams in Bristol, Rhode Island on Thursday night (7PM) in the semifinals.  The Scots lost down there 68-57 on January 23rd.

“We beat Wentworth tonight by making a ton of shots,” explained Gordon Coach Mike Schauer afterwards.  “We got off to a quick start and gained confidence.” 

The Scots drilled nine 3-pointers in the first half.  That long-distance accuracy in the opening half really kicked in during the decisive 16-2 streak.  The long-range marksmen during this segment were Jeff Derr (sophomore-6′8″-Barrington IL) (2), Aaron Trigg (sophomore-6′1″-Overland Park KS) (1) and Justin Kaufman (senior-5′11″-Redding CT) (1).  Jeff’s second one hit  just about every part of the rim before finally going in.

All that fine shooting put Gordon ahead 34-20 with 5:15 until halftime.  However, Wentworth road hot-shooting Sherrad Prezzie-Blue and lessened their deficit to 42-34 at the half.

Prezzie-Blue’s first half show (21 points including the last ten Leopard points) was remarkable.  “He was questionable about playing today,” Wentworth Coach Tom Devitt told me afterwards.  “Last night he got a deep calf bruise near the end of practice.  He didn’t sleep at all last night and was in the whirlpool for 1 ½ hours today.”

The Leopards closed to 45-38 a minute into the second half on a Todd Doyle jumper but that was the best they could do.  “We couldn’t come all the way back and a lot of the credit goes to Gordon’s defense,” said Coach Devitt.

“We did a lot better job of defending the interior,” recalled Coach Schauer.  “We knew that Prezzie-Blue would get more shots but we did better with the rest of their team.”

The Scots struck from close range in the second half to put together nine straight and stretched their margin to 58-40 with just under 15 minutes left.  The inside points were scored by Mike Schnackenberg (senior-6′6″-South Portland ME) (5), Jeff (2) and Justin (2).  Justin’s foul line jumper came after he sprinted up the court for the open look catching the Leopards by surprise.

For a game probably remembered for great shooting the next 13 Scot possessions were anything but that.  Covering nearly 9 ½ minutes Gordon managed just three points – Mike Schnackenberg layup on an inbounds play and a Justin Kaufman free throw.  If there was ever a window of opportunity for a comeback by the Leopards this Scot scoring drought was that opportunity.  However, the visitors tallied just ten points including an impressive jam by Weonard Bynes following up a missed shot. 

So despite the dry spell the Scots still had a 61-50 lead with a little over five minutes left.  Then Aaron Trigg duplicated Prezzie-Blue’s first half ten-point run with one of his own.  He dialed long distance twice and got the answers he wanted and also nailed a jumper and two free throws.  This special individual effort put the Scots into the comfort zone (71-52) with two minutes left and they coasted in from there.

Aaron topped the Scots in points (22), rebounds (7), and assists (5).  He had 32 points against Wentworth last time.

“We saw that Gordon struggled when their big men got into foul trouble against Bates, Husson, and ENC,” said Coach Devitt.  “We got Jon Marstaller (senior-6′5″-Naples ME) into foul trouble but Schnackenberg and Derr stepped up.”  Jeff was especially impressive getting a season-high 17 points in a season-high 23 minutes.

Coach Schauer has nothing but the highest of respect for Wentworth.  “They are well coached and they have classy kids.  It is an honor to have a kid like Sherrad Prezzie-Blue be the premier player in our league.  He plays as hard as he can.  He keeps his mouth shut.  At least he had only 29 points tonight.  Last year it was 30.”

Coach Devitt was not sure if his team’s season was over or not.  “We may get into the ECACs.  We’re 14-11 and Endicott got in with a record like that last year.”

If the Leopards don’t make the ECACs then Coach Devitt was savoring his recollections of Prezzie-Blue’s career at Wentworth.  “He has been the single reason that this program has landed on any type of map.  He’s nearly reached 1800 points and shot nearly 50% during his career.  I can’t say enough about him.  I will miss him greatly.”

Coach Devitt informed me that Sherrad wants to continue playing basketball.  “Whether it’s in Ireland or England, I think he can.  He’s young enough where he can play a year or two and see the world a little bit.”

He also told me about the relationship between Justin Kaufman and Sherrad Prezzie-Blue.  “There’s a mutual respect between them.  However they do it now, whether it’s IM or Face book, they communicate a lot.  They’re both from the same part of Connecticut.  I said “hello” to Justin before the game and congratulated him for being named to the CCC 2nd team.  Justin said to me, “Coach, I can’t believe your colleagues didn’t vote Sherrad as player of the year.”  I told him, “It’s all your fault.”  Justin limited Sherrad to just three points the first time the two teams met in January.

So it is on to Roger Williams for the semifinals on Thursday night.  The Scots will have to do a better job against the CCC Player-of-the-Year (6-11 Geoff Barranger) to have a chance in this one.  No question that the kind of interior defense the Scots played against Wentworth would be sufficient if they can combine another strong shooting performance with it.

The crowd numbers were down a bit but the student section had its voice back.  They made a difference.  A win at RWU and a Curry loss brings the championship game to the Bennett Center on Saturday.  Now wouldn’t that be fun!

Boxscore Wentworth 2-26-08

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Scots Head for Tourney on Winning Note – Game #25

(Wenham) “Thank you, seniors.”  That is what the sizable crowd (over 1000) chanted as this afternoon’s victory (66-64) over Salve Regina was secured at the Bennett Center.  The Scots ended the 25-game regular season with 17 wins.

In the Commonwealth Coast Conference, the Scots finished 9-4 and, because of their win over Salve Regina and losses by Western New England and the University of New England elsewhere, became the #3 seed in the tournament.  They will host Wentworth on Tuesday night at the Bennett Center starting at 7PM.

On a day when Gordon’s seniors were celebrated Coach Mike Schauer was quick to point out their major accomplishments: “Gordon has been 74-32 during their time here and over the last three years has not lost a home conference game.”

The Gordon seniors were honored but the most productive senior on the floor on this day was Salve Regina’s Steve Walsh.  The 6-7 post player totaled 25 points and spelled big trouble for the Scots anytime he got the ball down low. 

His efforts put that home conference streak in serious jeopardy and the outcome of this game was in doubt right into the final minute.  In fact, the Seahawks had four opportunities to tie the score in the last minute.

“I was proud of the way the team played today,” said Seahawk Coach Sean Foster afterwards.  “We could have packed it in since we didn’t make the playoffs.”  SR finished with seven straight losses and a 6-19 overall record.  In that losing streak they took #1 seed Curry into overtime and lost a close game last Saturday at Endicott and now this close one to Gordon.  As they say, if it weren’t for bad luck they’d have no luck at all.

The visitors used 3-point shots to build up several four-point leads (26-22, 30-24, and 36-32) which were their largest of the game.  The Scots biggest lead was 46-40 with 14:46 left after Mike Schnackenberg (senior-6′6″-South Portland ME) made an old-fashioned three and Brady Bajema (sophomore-6′2″-Whitinsville MA) followed with the new version.

Justin Kaufman 1000th 2-23-08SR tied the score (55-55) with just under six minutes left before a Justin Kaufman (senior-5′11″-Redding CT) layin with 5 ½ to go gave the Scots the lead (57-55) for good.  It was vintage Justin – dribble in search of a lane to the basket.  How many times have we seen him do it? 

Here Justin is pictured receiving  a basketball commemorating his 1000th point before the game from Coach Schauer.

Steve Walsh brought the Seahawks within one point twice the rest of the way with a layup after a neat lob pass (61-60 at 3:26) and a converted rebound (63-62 at 1:35).  “Steve has finished the season strong,” understated Coach Foster.  “He’s very good in the post.”

Unfortunately, the Seahawks next points wouldn’t come until just before the final buzzer. 

Meanwhile, for Gordon, Jon Marstaller (senior-6′5″-Naples ME) and Mike Schnackenberg combined beautifully (they’ve played together four years) for the winning basket.  Jon didn’t score in the last 17 ½ minutes of the second half but on this crucial play he got the ball down low and while spinning into the lane spotted a defender sliding his way to double team and found Mike alone under the basket.  This particular play (put Gordon ahead 65-62) and turned out to be large when SR came up empty on their next four possessions. 

Justin did his part in one of those unsuccessful SR possessions by falling on a loose ball near the scorer’s table and getting the benefit of the possession arrow. 

“I thought that we didn’t have a ton of energy in this one,” recalled Coach Schauer.  “I think that we were still tired from Wednesday’s circus (loss to UNE).  That wasn’t a game you walk away feeling very good about on any level.”

However, the season ended on a winning note and we get to see Wentworth again.  On January 12th the teams met and Gordon won 81-67.  If you archive the game story on that one you will be reminded of the following; Gordon fell behind 10-0, Aaron Trigg (sophomore-6′1″-Overland Park KS) had 32 points including 25 in the second half, and CCC MVP Sherrad Prezzie-Blue of Wentworth scored just three points.  It may be a reach to expect any of those three things to happen again but you never know.

One quote that Wentworth Coach Tom Devitt told me he made after the loss that game to his team still rings true, “I told my team that championships aren’t won in January.  That happens the end of February.”  A week from today we’ll know which team is the best in the conference.  It could well be Gordon or Wentworth.

It was nice to see Keith Krass (Senior-6′2″-Beach Park IL) get a start.  How important was the basket he made when the final margin was two points?

Jeff Derr (sophomore-6′8″-Barrington IL) has made 34 of 36 free throws.  That’s an incredible 94.4%.  He can make 3’s and he can play with his back to the basket.  He’s become an important point contributor since his first double-digit scoring game against Curry on January 26th.

It was great to see a full house on the student side.  The noise level?  Very disappointing.  There were timeouts late in the game where the student section sat in silence.  Head back to the library if you want to be quiet.  Can anyone over there yell, “Give me a G?”  Sometimes a crowd can reach the “Sixth Man” level.  It might be worth striving for that level on Tuesday night.

boxscore Salve Regina 2-23-08

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Lunar Eclipse Spectacular but Not Scots – Game #24

(Biddeford, Maine) – There was a rumor floating around after this game that at some point in the second half the referees decided to leave and go outside to look at the lunar eclipse.  They apparently were so impressed with the lunar eclipse (and it was spectacular) that they sent Gordon Coach Mike Schauer outside to look when they came back.

Okay, that’s not exactly what happened.  But a hard-fought game between the University of New England and Gordon turned nasty in the second half leading to a number of unbecoming technical fouls and ejections on both sides.  In my opinion a lot more whistle blowing early in the second half might well have prevented what developed later.

One thing that will not change is the final score: UNE 72 Gordon 59.  Trust me, the Nor’Easters are for real.  They have players that can beat a team one-on-one and they can force turnovers with their aggressive trapping and pressing.

All that didn’t seem to faze the Scots in the first half, however, and they were up 39-37.  “Gordon had everything scouted,” said UNE Coach Jason Mulligan.  “We were taken out of our game by their preparation.”

Nothing seemed to change early in the second half, in fact, a Brady Bajema (sophomore-6′2″-Whitinsville MA) three at 16:15 on a feed from Justin Kaufman (senior-5′11″-Redding CT) gave the Scots their largest lead of the game, 44-39. 

The next 7 ½ minutes?  A disaster for Gordon and the segment in which UNE caught up and took the game over.  “In the second half we got back in our groove in the full-court pressure and it got loud,” recalled Coach Mulligan.  “That loudness is something that wasn’t happening here much in the past.  Obviously winning brings people out and the noise the crowd created helped us tonight.”

The Nor’Easters went on a 14-2 run during this stretch and Isaac Stickney (16 rebounds/16 points for the game) and Jaykyri Simpson with six points each did most of the damage.  Three of the baskets were on offensive rebounds.  UNE had ten of those in the second half.

“In the second half they (UNE) increased the physical nature of their play and we weren’t able to match it and respond to it,” explained Gordon assistant coach Jeremy Martin afterwards.

And where the Nor’Easters were able to cash in on their physical play with high percentage shots in close the Scots launched low percentage 3’s.  Gordon dialed long distance five times during those 7 ½ minutes and never got an answer.

“People make comments about defense but if you don’t make shots it’s not always the defense that’s responsible,” said Coach Mulligan.  The Scots had plenty of good long-range looks, so their 1-for-10 result in the second half on 3-point attempts was very surprising.  Make a couple of those 3’s and this game would have been in the one-possession zone a lot longer than it was.

Instead, with nine minutes to go UNE held a 53-46 advantage.  Gordon got to within four points a couple of times thereafter (55-51 and 57-53) but never within four and in possession of the ball.  The Nor’Easters turned up points on almost every possession in the end game and as the frustrations mounted, the UNE margin increased and they won going away, 72-59.

The win pushes UNE (9-3) past Gordon (8-4) in the Commonwealth Coast Conference standings with only Saturday’s games left.  UNE is at Nichols and Gordon hosts Salve Regina.

By my unofficial figuring: if Gordon wins and Western New England loses at Colby-Sawyer (they’re undefeated at home) then the Scots will host Western New England in the first round of the CCC playoffs.  If Gordon, UNE, and Western New England win on Saturday then, brace yourself, Gordon comes right back up to Biddeford for another try at the Nor’Easters.  Wouldn’t that be something!

You couldn’t help but be impressed with UNE’s two junior imports from Texas – Jaykyri Simpson and Johnnie Jefferson.  Jaykyri had Justin covering him and he still went 10-for-13 with 21 points and six assists.  Johnnie was 5-for-8 with 13 points.  “I got those guys from Texas here after I got here,” explained Coach Mulligan.  “I was blessed.  The Lord sent the right people.”

With Justin, Jon Marstaller (senior-6′5″-Naples ME), Mike Schnackenberg (senior-6′6″-South Portland ME), and Keith Krass (Senior-6′2″-Beach Park IL) being honored Saturday, and ending their Gordon careers after this season, it might not be a bad idea for the Gordon coaching staff to take a look in Texas for some replacements if this is what’s out there.

“We’re trying to change the culture at UNE,” said Coach Mulligan.  “It’s obviously a huge win to beat Gordon here.  Theirs is a program that we aspire to be like.”

After defeating Gordon, Colby-Sawyer, and Endicott in consecutive home games, you can see how on a given day UNE is as good as anyone in the CCC is.  And just think, they were picked by the coaches to finish 11th out of 14 teams this season in the preseason poll!

Gordon collected ten turnovers in the second half on the way to 16 for the game.  The key to any success they hope to have in the CCC tournament next week will be taking good care of the basketball.  The four games in which the Scots turned the ball over the most were; Roger Williams (20),  Eastern Nazarene (17), Salem State (17), and UNE (16).  Two obvious similarities jump out – all were losses and all were on the road.  Gordon’s record nearly assures them of being on the road next Thursday and Saturday if they’re still alive in the tournament.  More efficiency on offense could well be the key to bringing the championship trophy to Grapevine Road a week from Saturday.

There are blessings and there are blessings in disguise.  I was dealing with the latter at game-time.  My wife and our friend Carolyn came out of Biddeford’s 99 Restaurant to find that the car wouldn’t work.  AAA eventually did what they do and we were on our way but missed most of the first half of this game.  Then came the blessing; UNE Sports Information Director Curt Smyth furnished me with the play-by-play of the first half and I was good to go in the second half. 

boxscore UNE 2-20-08

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Commonwealth Coast Conference Tournament Scenarios With Two Games Left

Seven teams have qualified for the eight spots in the Commonwealth Coast tournament with two regular season games left.  The seedings in the tournament are far from decided, however. 

Gordon assistant coach Jeremy Martin has put together; the current seeds, remaining schedule for those teams, and seeding scenarios.  His willingness to share the information is greatly appreciated.

1. Roger Williams (10-1): at Curry, at Eastern Nazarene

2. Curry (9-2): vs. Roger Williams, vs. Endicott

3. Gordon (8-3): at UNE, vs. Salve Regina
   UNE (8-3): vs. Gordon, at Nichols
   WNEC (8-3): at Anna Maria, at Colby-Sawyer

6. Colby-Sawyer (7-4): at Wentworth, vs. WNEC

7. Wentworth (6-5): vs. Colby-Sawyer, vs. NEC
   Endicott (6-5): vs. NEC, at Curry

9. Nichols (4-7): vs. Regis, vs. UNE
*Nichols is still alive by holding the tie-breaker vs. Endicott (W 90-72 on 1/15/2008). If Endicott wins one more game, they clinch a playoff berth. If Endicott loses two and Nichols wins two, then Nichols will be the 8th seed.

Roger Williams: If RWU wins at Curry, they will be the #1 seed.

Curry: If Curry wins vs. RWU and vs. Endicott, they will be the #1 seed by holding the tie-breaker over RWU.

Gordon: If Gordon wins at UNE and vs. Salve Regina, they will be the #3 seed. Additionally, if Curry loses either vs. RWU or vs. Endicott, then Gordon will be the #2 seed by holding the tie-breaker over Curry.

Those are the three schools in control of their own destiny by winning out in the next two games. After that point, it gets complicated with numerous scenarios through the games on Wednesday and it’s hard to know until going into Saturday’s games.

WNEC: If WNEC wins at Anna Maria and at Colby-Sawyer, then they can still get the #2 or #3 seed. To get the #2 seed, they additionally need a Curry loss combined with both a Gordon loss and UNE loss (must finish tied with Curry). To get the #3 seed, they additionally need a Gordon loss.

Seven of eight playoffs spots are sealed, but basically every seed is still in play, including #1, which RWU can wrap up on Wednesday.

There is a lot still up in the air.

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Filed under Colby-Sawyer, Curry, Endicott, Gordon Men's Basketball 2007-08, Nichols, Roger Williams, UNE, Wentworth, Western New England

“Any Road Victory is a Good Road Victory” (Game #23)

(Springfield) Let’s get the bad news out of the way first – Gordon took nearly five minutes to score and fell behind 7-0.  The good news?  Everything else that happened thereafter.

Gordon defeated highly regarded Western New England 67-59 on the road on Saturday afternoon and in the process clinched a spot in the Commonwealth Coast Conference tournament that starts on Tuesday February 26th.  Who their opponent will be and where they’ll play, will be decided league-wise over the final two games of the season.

Both Gordon and WNEC are now 8-3 in the CCC.  The Scots (16-7 overall) take their road show to Biddeford (Maine) on Wednesday night to face another team with three losses – the University of New England. 

Gordon Coach Mike Schauer was delighted with the win.  “It feels great because we have been struggling and haven’t played very well.  Now we’ll see if we can carry it over because UNE is every bit as good as Western New England.”

Let me pour that good news from this game on you, and there was plenty of it. 

The seniors that the coach was worrying about after the Colby-Sawyer game (Mike Schnackenberg (senior-6′6″-South Portland ME) and Jon Marstaller (senior-6′5″-Naples ME)), were huge in this one.

 “Jon competed hard today,” said Coach Schauer.  “Sometimes all that it takes to do well is to play hard.  Athletics is a real simple business.  However, it’s not easy to get kids to play hard all the time.”  In this one Jon was a significant part of an interior defense that surrendered few layups and forced the Golden Bears to become jump shooters.

Mike returned to his double/double ways (3rd time in 4 games) and ended with 16 points and 11 rebounds.  He carried the team in the first half, scoring wise (12 points) and it was fitting that his layup on an assist from Justin Kaufman (senior-5′11″-Redding CT) put the Scots in the lead for good, 21-19, at the 5:20 mark of the first half.

Let’s leave the seniors for a paragraph.  A couple of games ago Jeff Derr (sophomore-6′8″-Barrington IL) came off the bench in the first half to spark the Scots.  Today it was freshman Greg Walker (freshman-6′7″-Uxbridge MA) who provided a couple of baskets.  “Greg made some big shots,” recalled Coach Schauer.  “He is going to be a very good player.  He’s got to learn to play the other end of the floor a little bit but don’t we all.”

And Justin Kaufman?  This was a vintage Justin game.  He turned in his sixth 40-minute game of the season – he leads the CCC in average minutes played.  But the play from this game that I’ll remember for a long time happened in the last minute.  WNEC had closed to 61-56 with 1:18 left and were looking for a defensive stop.  Justin took the inbounds pass, and with WNEC’s best defender (Asif Abdul-Wadud) on him, went through nearly his entire repertoire of spins and dribbles before blowing by the excellent defender and down the lane for a successful lay-in.  Therefore, in one crucial possession he ate up 28 valuable seconds on the clock and boosted the Gordon lead to seven points when he was done.  Truly a memorable play!

Well, if you’ve looked at the boxscore you’re asking, “What about Aaron Trigg (sophomore-6′1″-Overland Park KS)?”  I haven’t forgotten him.  Last time I saw him he was being hounded by the CCC’s best 3-point defense at Colby-Sawyer last Tuesday.  Not many good looks for him in that one but today was a different story.  Aaron was able to dial long distance ten times and got the answer he wanted five times on his way to 23 points.

Fifteen of Aaron’s points came in the second half and none caused more groans from the sizable Senior Day crowd then the buzzer-beating three he had with eleven minutes left.  This was not the high-percentage catch-and-shoot three.  This was the “Shoot, shoot, shoot,” variety the last player with the ball takes as the 35-second clock is just about to end.  The Golden Bears had gotten close (43-41) before this particular three went in. 

Later the Scots built the lead to 55-45 with 5:43 remaining on an excellent close-to-the-basket play.  In it Jon looked to go to the basket but when a double-team showed up he found his fellow Mainer (Mike) alone for a layup. 

Near the end of the game, Matt Maynard’s only three of the afternoon put WNEC within a couple of possessions, 63-59, with 36 seconds to go but that ended their scoring.  Aaron closed out the game with four straight free throws.

The seniors on the WNEC team were honored before the game and then at halftime seniors from other campus groups were recognized.  “I was impressed with the way they did it,” said Coach Schauer.  “It is hard to do justice to all the seniors you have, and all the awards you want to give away, and yet maintain it in a time frame that’s conducive.  We’re in the business of celebrating young people so it was great to watch.”

Surprisingly, all three of WNEC’s losses have been at home (Roger Williams/Wentworth/Gordon).  They nearly lost to both UNE (OT) and Curry at home.  In a preseason poll, the coaches in the CCC picked WNEC to win the conference.  That was probably based on the facts of their having four starters back and a schedule that brought many of the successful teams of the previous season to their court. 

The biggest game in the conference so far will be next Wednesday when Roger Williams (one loss) takes on Curry (two losses) for what should determine the #1 seed in the tournament.

Tim MacDonnell (sophomore-6′2″-Jericho VT)’s “goggles” always seem to get the attention of the road audiences the Scots face.  I’m told that they’re regular glasses.  I recall someone at Roger Williams yelling to Tim that, “the pool is down the hall.” 

I gave someone at WNEC high marks for chanting, “Tennis elbow, tennis elbow,” when Brady Bajema (sophomore-6′2″-Whitinsville MA) went to the foul line with his right elbow wrapped. 

Let me close with Coach Schauer’s favorite line when describing games like the Western New England one, “Any road victory is a good road victory.” 

boxscore Western New England 2-16-08

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Filed under Gordon Men's Basketball 2007-08, Western New England

Sluggish Starts Lead to Predictable Result – Game #22

(New London NH) – The Scots started poorly in both halves and that contributed heavily to yet another road loss.  This time it was to Colby-Sawyer, 65-59, on Tuesday night.

Gordon (15-7 overall, 7-3 Commonwealth Coast Conference) has lost four of its last five road games with only the late-game miracle at Endicott being an alternate result. 

 After witnessing last night’s performance Gordon coach Mike Schauer had this to say, “It feels as if we’ve started like this every night for the last month and I’m pretty weary of it.”

Let me get the specifics out regarding the poor starts in both halves. 

In the first half, after nearly seven minutes had passed the Scots were behind 18-4.  To get this sort of lead the Chargers put up the first nine points and later ran off seven unanswered points.  Therefore, into the double-digit deficit hole Gordon jumped. 

Fast forward to the start of the second half.  Down 39-30 going into the second half, the Scots take an unconscionable 6 ½ minutes to score their first point.  The Chargers weren’t anything special during this segment either getting only five points.  But instead of Gordon shooting their way into a challenging position they ended up down fourteen (44-30).

The Scots did get to within four points a couple of times (60-56 and 62-58) late in the game but their sporadic play at the start of each half kept them from getting to a position where a made shot would tie or win this one.

Coach Schauer was well aware of the poor shooting and said that it didn’t concern him.  “The shots we missed didn’t bother me nearly as much as the urgency at which we play at.  I told the team at halftime and after the game that we just don’t have a sense of urgency.”

The urgency that Coach Schauer refers to has to do with qualifying for the Commonwealth Coast playoffs.  Eight teams make the playoffs.  With this loss, the Scots drop to 7-3 in the conference.  They are now three losses away from not making the playoffs, and guess what, there are three games left.  It would certainly be nice to beat a good team on the road to set a proper mood for the playoffs.  Ahead are two road games (Western New England – Saturday, and UNE – 2/20) in which Gordon will be the underdog.  Can we hope that making the playoffs doesn’t come down to beating Salve Regina at home on the last game of the season?

The Chargers are still undefeated at home in CCC play. 

“We’re not always a great shooting team so when we come out shooting the ball well, we’re tough,” explained Colby-Sawyer coach Bill Foti afterwards.  The Chargers only missed two shots in the early going when they built up the 18-4 advantage.  On one of the misses Duncan Szeliga (25 points/9 rebounds) turned the rebound into a basket. 

Duncan was good but it was Andrew Cousins who really did in Gordon on both ends of the floor.  The 6-3 junior knocked down three 3’s in the early run and his defense on Gordon’s top scorer (Aaron Trigg (sophomore-6′1″-Overland Park KS)) throughout was special.  Andrew finished with 17 points.

“Andrew is a very good defender,” said Coach Foti.  “He also had a very nice game against Justin Woodworth (Salve Regina) this past weekend.”

Both Justin Woodworth and Aaron Trigg will hurt an opponent from long range if given the opportunities.  The Chargers, however, are the best in the CCC at defending against the 3-point shot and it paid off against Gordon.  The Scots hit only 2-of-14 long-range attempts in the second half and many of them were not the wide open 3’s that Gordon’s passing offense usually turns up.

“Bill Foti is a tremendous coach,” said Coach Schauer.  “They play very hard on defense.”  And their rebounding is worth writing about too with Ryan Murray collecting a significant 14 caroms.

This is not a game that seniors Justin Kaufman (senior-5′11″-Redding CT), Mike Schnackenberg (senior-6′6″-South Portland ME), and Jon Marstaller (senior-6′5″-Naples ME) will remember fondly. 

Justin’s five missed free throws in the last seven minutes were costly.  He did, however, do a nice defensive job on Dave Rosso holding him to five points, well under his 14.8 per game average.  Justin ended up with 16 points and the accolades of Coach Foti, “We had a lot of trouble keeping him out of the lane.  It should be easy to defend but it’s not because he so good.”

Mike ended up with short minutes (20) from foul trouble and never got untracked offensively getting just two points.

Jon had a forgettable first half ( no points ) and didn’t even start the second half.  He did play much better (nine points) once he was activated in the second half.

“I think that we have a few guys who think their careers are over and are just pacing their way through it,” said Coach Schauer.  “We’ll find out.  It doesn’t bother me.  We’ll just play the kids.”

I rode the team bus to this one fearing the weather.  Glad I did especially on the ride home.  On the way back, where I saw adverse conditions, the bus driver saw nearly full speed ahead.  Situations like this always do wonders for my prayer life!

The willingness of parents to attend their son’s games continues to amaze me.  I set out writing the Gordon games nearly six years ago because I thought that there were family/friends who could not attend most games and would appreciate the information I could provide.  After seeing so many parents/friends at home games and away games, I am not nearly as certain of my usefulness.

boxscore Colby-Sawyer 2-12-08

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Filed under Colby-Sawyer, Gordon Men's Basketball 2007-08