Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Game Review: EWU Eagles lose bball track meet to Seattle Redhawks 91-78

When the Eagles took on the Redhawks, I began the game fighting with the frustrating interface offered by the Seattle University video stream.  I was doing everything I could think of to get that video to play so I could watch this game, so determined that even though the game was starting I was not listening or watching or paying attention because I had a mission.  I was not going to be beaten by the computer I was going to watch this game.  The thought ran through my mind as my frustration grew an began to spill over until a friend of mine told me to listen to the radio broadcast and if necessary to find something else to write about.  The words struck like a revelation, my mission wasn’t to get some silly video stream to work properly, my mission was to observe the Eagles playing the Redhawks.

I share that story because as I review my notes on the game I realized that the Eagles may have fallen into a similar trap.  The radio broadcast repeated variations of the phrase, “The Eagles are not being beaten by the Seattle press,” throughout the game.  Yet the Eagles were losing.  They were close and competitive for about 30 minutes of game time, but in the end they fell apart yielding an 18-3 run to lose 78 to 91.  I am not an expert on Basketball strategy but I had the feeling that the press had been significant.  The Eagles were dominating in hustle stats: rebounding (24 to 42), second chances (18 defensive rebounds to the Redhawks 13 offensive rebounds), free throws given up (33 to 16) and gave up a season high shooting percentage to their opponents.  These things indicate to me that the Eagles were out hustled and in dramatic fashion.

Consider this tidbit from coachesclipboard.netA good press can quickly produce back-court turnovers, steals and easy baskets for your team. So it is an offensive weapon as such, and a way to come from behind, or a way to break open a close game, and a way to wear down an slower, less well-conditioned opponent. It may help nullify the opponent's "bigs", who may labor to get up and down the floor. You can turn the game into a "track meet", rather than a slow-down game that favors the opponent's big post players. The press keeps the opponent off-balance, changes the tempo of the game, and often has the opponent doing things they don't normally like to do. It often forces the opposing coach to use valuable time-outs. It favors a well-conditioned team with a deep bench, and with more substitutions, allows more of your players to get playing time.”

This game got away from the Eagles because they were on the back end of a grueling road trip, their 3rd game in five days.  They got into foul trouble early again, further limiting their ability to substitute and again one of their star players was playing through injury.  Though the played with fierce determination not to be beaten by Seattle’s press defense, they found themselves out of gas in the waning moments of the game and Seattle ran away from them.

Seattle used a small line up of quick and fit players to run the Eagles into the ground, they put themselves into position for open shots, had a good shooting night and played relentlessly on defense.  Sterling Carter (#10) was 9 of 11 from the field for the night, on the season he’s been a 33% shooter.  Aaron Broussard (#2) was 12 of 18 from the field, on the season he’s been a 46% shooter.  Some of that is just two players have a good day shooting the ball, but some of it has to do with getting open looks.

So the Eagles “broke” the Seattle press, but in doing so set themselves up to become track stars and that was a game they were not prepared to play.  Great strategy by the Seattle University coaches.

On the positive side, the Eagles got another exceptional performance from Cliff Chiverton (#24) whose 26 points matched a career high and continued his three game stretch of 20+ point games.  Cliff Colimon (#11) and Jeffrey Forbes (#22) combined for 10 assists and 24 points as well.  The Eagles did not get enough from their bench in this one as the bench went 4 for 15 from the field and added 6 fouls and a pair of turnovers.  Parker Kelly (#10) and Jordan Hickert (#25) both started well hitting three 3 pointers early before fizzling to go a combined 3 for 8 from beyond the arc.  Kelly made both of free throw opportunities and Hickert collected 5 rebonds, tied for the team high with Cliff Ederaine (#42).  Ederaine had a rough night playing only 19 minutes after getting into foul trouble (4 personal fouls on the game) and scoring only 3 points.

Now the Eagles get some much needed rest as they don’t play again until Saturday night when they play host to the Portland State Vikings (3-3, 9-9).