Leron Fisher once again had a stellar night for the Lancers (Photo credit: Matthew Alexander)

Leron Fisher once again had a stellar night for the Lancers (Photo credit: Matthew Alexander)

 

Once again, the Longwood men’s basketball team fell on the road.  The visiting Lancers took the 79-67 defeat at Gardner Webb last night.  I know we sound like a broken record, but this team was incredibly competitive in this contest especially considering G-Webb is one of the teams now tied for first place in the conference.

The first note I jotted down from this game was at the 7:25 mark in the first half.  Leron Fisher drained a three to give Longwood a one point lead at 26-25.  The problem was, from there the Bulldogs outscored the Lancers 12-4 to take a 37-30 lead into halftime.  I thought it was a deciding part of this contest.

The entire game was pretty fast paced overall.  The Lancers like to run and get baskets in transition and really it was probably not a bad idea for Coach Gee and company.  There’s no way they could play Jerome Hill in the half court (as evidenced by his 31 points).  The hectic pace is probably the main reason Longwood was able to stick around until the Lancers tried the foul game late in the contest.

My main concern from this game was the fact that, at times, Longwood’s offense seemed to rush their opportunities.  When they were sped up by G-Webb, the Lancers committed turnovers (17 on the night).  At other times, Longwood used the extra pass to create scoring opportunities.

Without Lotanna Nwogbo, this game will be the normal grind it out performance for Longwood.  It seems like every Big South Network broadcaster mentions how impressive this Longwood team looks.  Without their paint presence, they’re not able to get over the hump though.

As for some other player observations, Victor Dorsey played well considering the circumstances.  The freshman has been thrown into the fire and is playing tough.  He gets beat of course but his energy seems to be really helping the cause.  He also had 6 points last night and flashed his mid range game.  Leron Fisher was incredible.  In fact, I’m not sure why i’m just talking about him now.  The redshirt junior has really stepped up his game in recent weeks.  He tallied 25 points, 2 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals on the night.  Qunicy Taylor was sort of M.I.A.  That’s probably because he busted his mouth on the hardwood in the first half.  Coach Gee said Q wouldn’t admit that the injury bothered him but it probably affected his second half performance.  Finally, Shaq was Shaq last night.  He had a solid offensive night although he had a couple of bad turnovers.  Shaq plays incredibly hard and you can tell he’s trying to will this team to wins.

The good news is Longwood has 6 days off before they host UNC Asheville on January 28.  Expect a big turnout from the Andrew Rowsey bunch as they showed out last year in Willett Hall.

As always, show up and stand up.  This team is fighting hard for Lancer Nation.

Jerome Hill has been a beast for Gardner-Webb this year and is in the race for Big South Player of the Year.

Where: Paul Porter Arena (Boiling Springs, NC
When: January 22, 7 PM
TV/Streaming: Big South Network
Radio: WVHL 92.9 (Farmville), WHAP 1340 AM (Richmond)

LancersBlog GameThread

Longwood hits the road again on Thursday for Game 2 of a five of seven stretch of games away from Willett Hall. After a gritty comeback effort at High Point on Monday the Lancers will look to continue to put a quality product on the floor against the upper echelon of talent in the Big South. Ahead for the Lancers is a match up with a Gardner-Webb squad that gave Coastal Carolina their first conference loss 82-67 in Conway this past weekend. The Bulldogs have been very good this year with signature wins against Clemson and Purdue. Despite their consistency and talent there are a few games where they seem to slip up, could that be the case Thursday?

When you talk about Gardner-Webb you have to start with their frontcourt. Jerome Hill is the reigning national and Big South Player of the Week and is now averaging 19.1 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game. Right now Hill is the frontrunner for Big South Player of the Year and actually played with Quincy Taylor and Lotanna Nwogbo this summer in the Philippines. Right next to Hill is another monster in 6’7 sophomore Tyrell Nelson who is the Bulldogs second leading scorer at 13 points and 6.8 boards a night. With an undermanned frontcourt look for the Lancers to send Nelson and Hill to the line a lot where they are shooting a combined 57.8% this season. Hill has been A LOT better at the line in conference though shooting 75%.

Hill and Nelson might be the focal point but the engine that drives GWU’s team is senior point guard Tyler Strange. Strange is fifth in the country in assists at 7.1 per game and is also adding nearly 9 points and 3 rebounds to the Bulldogs box score every night. He doesn’t turn the ball over either as his assist to turnover ratio is the best in the conference and eleventh nationally. The key to slowing down the Bulldogs might be stopping Strange rather than focusing on GWU’s monster frontcourt with the Lancers shorthanded in the post to begin with.

The fourth threat and one of the most improved players for the Bulldogs is Central Florida transfer Jarvis Davis. After averaging 4.2 points a year ago the senior has jumped up to average 10.5 points and 4.1 rebound this year. He’s just another weapon to keep an eye on tonight.

It’ll take a total team effort for Longwood tonight with Lotanna Nwogbo and Kanayo Obi-Rapu. Quincy and Shaq need to have big nights but someone else needs to step up as well. Tip-off is set for 7 PM and the game can be seen on the Big South Network.

Photo Credit:  Matthew Alexander

Quincy Taylor had 17 second half points to help lead the Longwood comeback at High Point                             (Photo Credit: Matthew Alexander)

 

Just 7 and a half minutes into the second half, the Longwood Lancers cut their halftime deficit from 16 to 6 against the High Point Panthers.  The Panthers only managed 2 made field goals during that time frame and Longwood was surging.  It’s sort of been the motive of this Longwood squad all season.  They scratch, claw, and fight even when they’re down big in games.  In fact, it took the Lancers just 10 second half minutes to match the 22 points they scored in the first half.  And they didn’t stop there as they outscored the first place Panthers by 11 in the second half.

Although the Lancers lost this contest by a margin of 72-67, you have to take into consideration how far this team has come.  I’ve heard people make the comment that the Lancers aren’t any better that they were 2-3 years ago.  Well, if you are simply a box score fan, then you have no idea.  If you watch this team night in and night out, they are an improved bunch.  The level of talent we have now is incredible.  We are currently playing some of the best teams in the league without an interior presence.  That’s no knock on Damarion Geter or Victor Dorsey as they have both played with tons of energy for Longwood.  But they just can’t compare to what Lotanna Nwogbo brought to the table for Longwood.  Also, if you think this is the same squad that suited up under the previous regime, talk to some of the beat writers around the Big South Conference.  Everyone knows this Longwood team is going to compete and take you to the limit.  This team never gives up.  That’s not a quality the Longwood faithful have always been able to boast about.

As for the High Point game itself,  Longwood had a rough stretch in the first half.  They struggled to find any sort of fluidity on offense and when they did find an open look, the shots simply weren’t falling.  Coach Gee even mentioned that during his post game interview with Scott Bacon.  That’s basketball, sometimes you’re shot won’t be there.  The different in this game was that the Longwood defense went into halftime and buckled down with they exited the locker room for the second half.  John Brown was held to an average stat line of 14 points and 5 rebounds.  Unfortunately for the Lancers, High Point had 3 other players that scored in double figures.  Longwood was able to hold HPU to just 34% shooting in the second half and created some opportunities for the Longwood offense with 4 steals and 2 blocked shots.

And even when High Point tried to deny Quincy Taylor the ball late in the contest, Longwood got creative and was able to get the redshirt senior some good looks.  Between the Liberty and High Point games, the coaching adjustments have been stellar.  I can’t recall a time when the coaching has been better.  These guys are trying to learn on the fly without their big man.  There’s still a lot of talent on this roster and i’d say don’t look away yet.  While the losses are stacking up to a certain degree, this Longwood team is really starting to find it’s stride.  They’ll win some games and if Nwogbo is back in time, they could really compete in the Big South Conference Tournament in March.

The Lancers will hit the road to face Gardner Webb in Boiling Springs on Thursday before taking 6 days off and hosting UNC Asheville on January 28.

MTA-LUvsLiberty-6D-0555

Kanayo Obi-Rapu had 11 points in a bit of a homecoming at High Point tonight. (Photo: Matthew Alexander)

If you cut off your TV at halftime then you missed a good game. Longwood fell 72-67 at High Point tonight after an abysmal first half from the Lancers. Here is a look at our KneeJerk Reactions:

– Let’s just forget the Lancers first half where they went down 38-22 at the midway point. Longwood was just 1-for-10 from three in the half and just couldn’t get anything to fall.

– I was expecting a second half similar to what we saw at Charleston Southern where Longwood goes into desperation mode way too early and starts chucking up rushed threes. Man was I wrong… The effort that the Lancers showed in the second half was unmatched and the halftime adjustments from Coach Gee were impressive.

– Quincy Taylor heated up early in the second half and spurred the comeback for the Wood. The senior finished with 19 points and 2 steals.

– Shaq Johnson had 5 points on the night but added 4 assists and 5 rebounds. Johnson was great at finding open guys but Gee talked a little bit after the game about how he wish Shaq would’ve been a little more selfish with the ball tonight.

– It was a homecoming of sorts for Greensboro native Kanayo Obi-Rapu who finished with 11 points, 2 assists, and 2 rebounds. He did miss a big three pointer that would have made it a one point game late. Unfortunately Obi-Rapu is battling plantar fasciitis and will not play at Gardner-Webb on Thursday.

– Ryan Badowski posted 9 points and 5 boards. The interesting thing was that he was absent down the stretch in the second the half. Not sure why the big time shooter wasn’t in during crunch time?

– Leron Fisher had another gritty effort with 12 points and 4 rebounds. The biggest part of his game though was three crucial steals that helped Longwood get back into this one.

– The record might not be great but Longwood has placed plenty of adversity this year and this team continues to show a lot of fight. This team is not going to be an easy out for anyone this year.

Longwood will need to get going from downtown again to take down High Point tonight. (Photo: Matthew Alexander)

Longwood will need to get going from downtown again to take down High Point tonight. (Photo: Matthew Alexander)

Where: Millis Center (High Point, NC)
When: January 19, 7 PM
TV/Streaming: ESPN3
Radio: WVHL 92.9 (Farmville), WHAP 1340 AM (Richmond)

LancersBlog GameThread

Longwood will need all the momentum they can handle from Saturday as they head into  Monday night tilt with John Brown and the High Point Panthers. ESPN3 will be the place to catch two of the country’s top dunkers, Brown and Shaq Johnson, go head to head for the first time in the Big South. High Point is surging with four straight victories, while Longwood is trying to redefine themselves after losing Lotanna Nwogbo and taking down Liberty.

When you think about Scott Cherry’s Panthers you think about John Brown and then the deadly wings that he has playing around him. Brown is averaging 19.3 points and 5.8 rebounds per game this year and it will be VERY interesting to see how Jayson Gee chooses to defend him. Brown is truly the only post presence for the Panthers and at times he’ll chose to play fronting the basket a little more than needed. A 2-3 zone is a calculated risk because of the quality of shooters around Brown and the likes of Damarion Geter and Victor Dorsey are not athletic enough to cover the reigning Big South Player of the Year. The situation could create an interesting match up between Shaq Johnson and Brown. Shaq is certainly athletic enough and strong enough to defend Brown but will be giving up some serious inches.

Leading the group of wings we touched on is the trio of Lornezo Cugini, Davante Wallace, and Adam Weary, all of whom are averaging just over 10 points per game. Weary has been particularly dangerous as of late averaging 14.6 points per contest in Big South play. The trio is also rebounding at a pretty solid rate this year and Wallace is actually tied with John Brown for the team lead in rebounds with 5.8 per game. Longwood does have guys like Quincy Taylor, Leron Fisher, and DJ Allen who can lock down guys on the wing, but Cugini and Wallace will have a bit of a height advantage.

If Longwood wants to win then they’ll need to get hot from beyond the arc again where they were 16-for-29 on Saturday against Liberty. It was the first time that Longwood was really able to handle the 2-3 zone, which should be expected from High Point tonight, and it was really a different offensive approach for the Lancers. There needs to be the balance of outside shooting and the continued slashing from Fisher, Taylor, and Johnson on the offensive end. Fisher was just 1-for-9 from the field on Saturday but that’s because he was drawing contact and finished 8-for-11 from the free throw line. Scott Cherry will be keyed in on Johnson and Taylor this game so look for guys like Fisher, Kanayo Obi-Rapu, Ryan Badowski, and others to step up.

Tip off is 7 PM tonight from North Carolina and this is one that you can enjoy on ESPN3.

Longwood President Reveley Joins in with the Student Section!

Longwood President Reveley Joins in with the Student Section! (Photo via Matthew Alexander)

Just like that, Longwood takes its Willett Hall winning streak over Liberty to 14.  The Lancer Lunatics and the men’s basketball team couldn’t have asked for a better game on Saturday.  Students were arriving well before the tip, the ticket line was as long as ever, and Willett Hall was abuzz.  Liberty had come to town and it was just what Lancer Nation needed.

After a poor performance at home versus Presbyterian College on Wednesday, we here at LancersBlog were not happy campers.  We even went as far as calling out the entire student body because the atmosphere and the product on the floor was simply sterile.  Well, both groups responded and showed the league exactly why we have the best student section and atmosphere in the Big South Conference.  The 85-71 final was certainly a product of the atmosphere that the students built leading up to this contest.

With 20 minutes on the clock prior to the tip, I looked across the hardwood to the student section and witnessed two distinct groups.  The Lancer Lunatics were gathering together in their usual spot while what I believe was the Longwood Club Football team gathered in the section right next to the Lunatics.  All were clad in their white tees, hats, and other apparel.  All seemed to be excited and ready for tip.  All refused to sit down.  It was one of the few times i’ve witnessed such an emphatic demeanor since I came to Longwood back in 2006.  Now i’ve witnessed some great games and i’ve lived through some great Longwood crowds.  But this one was different.  Those kids stood the entire game.  They chanted the entire game.  They pestered the visiting Flames for the entire game.  They never gave up.  They continued to stay engaged.  A lot of credit goes to the student’s themselves and plenty of credit goes to the Longwood athletics department.  And at the end of the night, the men’s team performed admirably in front of a rocking Willett Hall.  That’s what makes college basketball so fun.  After last night, I think a lot of people realized it can happen in a 1,800 seat arena.

We’d like to thank the students for responding.  For the first time in a long time, we were able to talk about some of our favorite atmospheres we’ve witnessed in Willett.  This one ranked up there with our most memorable game days.  The challenge now is to keep the energy level high.  Show up and stand up to every game left on the schedule.  Coach Gee and his team recognize how special this student body is.  They feed off of our energy as fans.  That showed last night.

As for the game, I think everyone knows by now that Shaq Johnson showed why he was brought here.  He was consistent in both halves.  He was clutch and he was not afraid to take over the game.  His game around the rim was spot on.  His mid range game was working and his perimeter touch was there.  He seemed to be playing and simply having fun with it.  He even said as much in a post game interview.

At this point, I think that’ll be one of the more important things for this team to do.  They have to have fun and play with passion.  They are going to have to scrap in every game they play without Lotanna Nwogbo.  When they play loose and work as a team, they seem to be able to stick around with teams.

If you were able to watch the game, I strongly encourage you to watch it on the Big South Network.  It’ll likely be posted on BigSouthSports.com tomorrow at some point and, as always, it’s free.

As for the next contest, Longwood will travel to High Point on Monday night to take on the 13-4 Panthers.

Shaq Johnson's career night kept Longwood's home win streak against Liberty alive. (Photo: Matthew Alexander)

Shaq Johnson’s career night kept Longwood’s home win streak against Liberty alive. (Photo: Matthew Alexander)

Longwood kept their Willett Hall winning streak going against the Liberty Flames with a big 85-71 win Saturday night. Liberty is now 0-14 all-time in The Will. Here is a look at some KneeJerk Reactions from tonight’s win.

– Shaq Johnson is probably most people’s Player of the Game, and rightfully so, but we’re going to give it to the Lancer Lunatics. After a loss on Wednesday to Presbyterian we called out the students a bit and they responded tonight by standing for all forty minutes and creating one of the best atmospheres we’ve ever seen in Willett. Huge shoutout to all the students who came out to the game tonight.

– Now let’s talk about Shaq who was a monster all night long. The junior had a career night with 31 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 assists. Johnson stepped up in the post in Lotanna Nwogbo’s absence and played a great all-around game. He closed the game with an emphatic windmill jam that might be on SportsCenter when you wake up in the morning.

– Johnson and Quincy Taylor scored 37 of Longwood’s 41 first half points. The two really stepped up as the rest of the team went 1-for-11 from the field in the first half. Taylor finished the game with 21 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals.

– Longwood really took care of the ball tonight with only 8 turnovers and didn’t turn the ball over in the first half until there were about 4 minutes left. Conversely Liberty turned the ball over 20 times and the Lancers had 11 steals.

– Ryan Badowski finished with 15 points on a 5-for-6 night from beyond the arc. Badowski’s hustled is unmatched and he was really a nail in the coffin tonight as he hit some really big threes down the stretch. As a team Longwood was 16-for-29 from three.

– Leron Fisher was the fourth Lancer in double-figures with 10 points. Most of Fisher’s point came from the charity stripe where he was 8-for-10 and he did have 3 steals tonight.

– DJ Allen had a technical foul late in the first half and seemed to fall in Coach Gee’s doghouse because he only played 14 minutes tonight, most of which were in the first half. Allen’s foul came against Andrew Smith who was in a previous altercation with Leron Fisher after he grabbed Fisher’s head after both player lost control under the basket. It didn’t look like Smith had malicious intent and was actually trying to save Fisher but it just looked bad and created a tense moment.

Longwood now has a quick turnaround before their next game when they head to High Point for a Monday night tip-off on ESPN3.

Flames Nation: LancersBlog Q&A

Andrew Smith is one of the few familiar faces Longwood will see on the court Saturday.

Where: Historic Willett Hall
When: January 17, 5 PM
TV/Streaming: Big South Network
Radio: WVHL 92.9 (Farmville), WHAP 1340 AM (Richmond)

LancersBlog GameThread

Stand up and wear white, that’s the theme when Liberty comes to town Saturday evening for an important game for the Lancers. We all know about the streak in Willett Hall so there is no need to harp on that. This game is about overcoming adversity and setting the tone for the rest of the season without big man Lotanna Nwogbo.

Both teams are battling injuries and should be hungry for a win. Liberty is without two starters in wing Tomasz Gielo and point guard Joe Retic. Gielo was the leading scorer for the Flames averaging 12 points and over 6 rebounds per game. Retic accounted for over 40% of the Flames assists production and was adding 7 points a night. Both were big losses but Retic really hurt due to the Flames inept offense and propensity to turn over the basketball.

So who is left for the Flames? The biggest advantage for Dale Layer’s squad is in the post where the shorthanded Lancers will have to battle David Andoh, James Johnson, Theo Johnson, and Andrew Smith to a lesser extent. Andoh, a 6’7 JUCO transfer, is the Flames leading scorer with Gielo and is averaging 8.5 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. James Johnson is a 6’10 transfer from San Diego State who started his career at Virginia. Despite his size the big man has really struggled this year and is averaging just 4 points and 4.2 rebounds in Big South play. Charleston transfer Theo Johnson has really stepped up recently with a double-double against Charleston Southern on Wednesday.

Many thought Andrew Smith would take his game to another level this year but the high flyer has actually regressed averaging more minutes but less points and he’s been a more inefficient shooter at 50.8%. Smith is also just shooting 58.1% and all the big man discussed so far are averaging 65% at the charity stripe as a unit.

Damarion Geter and Victory Dorsey are once again going to have to step up in the post after combining for 12 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 blocks against Presbyterian on Wednesday. Also look for Shaq Johnson’s role in this one on both ends after crashing the boards hard at PC.

Where Longwood will have an advantage is in the backcourt where the Flames will be hard pressed to find an answer for Quincy Taylor, Leron Fisher, and company. Without Retic the Flames have depended on freshman Peter Moeller who is averaging 7.2 points a night but isn’t much of a distributor. Ryan Kemrite, another freshman, started five straight games but came off the bench against Charleston Southern. The Texas native is adding nearly 4 points per night for the Flames. Taylor, Fisher, and DJ Allen should be able to pry on the Flames young backcourt and generate some offense from defense on Saturday.

Tip-off is set for 5 PM on Saturday. Stand up and wear white.