emu convo

EMU was able to claim the tournament title on their home floor: The EMU Convocation Center

 

So was the EMU Showcase a success?  According to Jayson Gee and mild mannered fans like myself, it was certainly a success.  Longwood went 2-2 (including the game vs Averett in Willett Hall) which Gee explained was the initial goal anyway.  Now don’t get me wrong, once we beat UNCG in overtime on Friday, I hoped the Lancers could squeak out a win over Youngstown State the following day and although many casual fans haven’t heard of them, the Eastern Michigan Eagles are probably going to win 20 games this season.  To expect a win against a 20 win team so early in the season would have been naive.

This tournament was basically a chance for Longwood to learn more about their team.  It was an opportunity to get an idea of what this team is made of and what coach Jayson Gee and his staff need to do to improve going forward.  When it comes to the wins and losses, you might as well just forget about that aspect.  On the other hand, you can’t simply forget this is year two of a rebuild (or a build).  On top of that, the roster is filled with players that have never donned the blue and white before this season.  What i’m looking for is progress.  Are these players getting better?  Do they seem like they’re gelling?  Are they all in?  Yes.  Yes.  Yes.

This team is growing.  Results aren’t always going to be there in the box score.  The stats aren’t going to tell this Jayson Gee story.  You have to watch this team to really get a grasp of it.  You can’t look at a stat sheet and understand the intangibles that this Longwood team is developing.  Coach Gee possesses very specific ideals and principles when it comes to this Longwood program.  Good defense is a main staple and although opposing teams were able to expose some of Longwood’s vulnerabilities (i.e. the zone), the defense was still able to implement a degree of pressure.

Longwood showed some composure in the game against UNCG.  Early on, the Lancers trailed the Spartans.  In fact, the Lancers never held the lead during the first half.  However, Longwood came out strong in the second half and claimed the lead on their first possession.  The Lancers held the lead for a few minutes before UNCG made a run.  The teams ping-ponged for a while before Longwood took a small lead around the 4 minute mark.  From there, Longwood had as much as a 4 point advantage and would eventually allow a buzzer beating 3 to send the game into overtime.  In all honesty, I wasn’t sure a team would be able to come back from that.  Welp, this Lancers team was able to and they claimed the 2 point victory after one overtime period.

As for the Youngstown State game, I feel like if that game had taken place in Willett Hall, there’s no doubt Longwood would have won.  Going into that game, I felt like the Lancers had a good shot.  They made timely runs all throughout the game.  The problem was they needed those runs to stay in the game because of a rash of turnovers throughout the contest.  To give you an idea, Longwood had 17 TO’s and just 11 assists (on 31 made baskets).  Contrarily, YSU had just 13 TO’s with 18 assists (on 30 made baskets).  Also, the Lancers just failed to get to the charity stripe as YSU was 19-31 and Longwood was 2-8.

Finally, the Eastern Michigan blowout was a result of 4 games in 5 days combined with an uber athletic Eagles squad.  Coach Gee even mentioned that the Lancers physically broke down.  Looking at the number of minutes guys played, you can tell coach took that into consideration.  For one, freshman Victor Dorsey registered 17 minutes (he tallied his first two points and registered 8 rebounds).  On the opposite end, Damarion Geter registered just 13 minutes.  It’s hard to excuse a 31 point defeat but the circumstance led to the result.  Give the Lancers credit, they play hard and with a lot of energy.  Doing that 4 times in 5 days was simply the breaking point.  And unfortunately for the Lancers, they saved the best team of the stretch for last.

All in all, I think this was a valuable stretch for the Lancers.  Nwogbo is really coming into his own.  He was named to the All-Tournament team.  Ryan Badowski is showing his ability each and every game.  The freshman hasn’t missed a shot from inside the arc (he’s 6-6 from the field).  I really appreciate the fact that he isn’t afraid of the limelight and doesn’t mind shooting the ball in tough situations.  Quincy Taylor returned to the lineup.  You’d have to believe the redshirt senior is hungry and eager to right the ship in Farmville.  Shaq Johnson is showing that he can be a tough player as he battled through as illness this weekend.  DJ Allen continues to impress although he went silent in the final game vs EMU.  He’s a tough defender that simply wore down over the course of the past week.  Finally, Kanayo Obi-Rapu showed he can respond as he hit a rough patch against UNCG but responded well against YSU.

Longwood will travel to George Washington and Iowa this coming week.  It’s possible the Lancers will return to Willett Hall on December 3rd with a 2-5 record and that’s ok.  GW will likely contend for a tournament spot this season and Iowa is an always tough Big 10 team.  Once December rolls around though, look for this Longwood team to compete and really show growth on the hardwoods.

Longwood was dominated this afternoon in a 79-48 drubbing at the hands of Eastern Michigan to close out the EMU showcase.

Player of the Game: I hesitant to give this to no one but it’ll go to Lotanna Nwogbo to for the way he played in this tournament nearly averaging a double-double. Nwogbo had 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 blocks tonight. I don’t know if they have all-tournament teams but he should be on it. The best part about today is that he had only 1 turnover.

KneeJerk Reactions

- The rhetoric surrounding this game is that 4 games in 5 days is tough. Yea it is, but everyone else in this tournament was pretty much doing it. There is a virus running around that Shaq Johnson is dealing with and I hope that is part of the story of today’s sloppy efforts.

- 24 TURNOVERS! The Lancers had 15 turnovers in the second half, which is too many for one game much less a half. Longwood is really struggling against zone defenses and it’s something Coach Gee and his staff need to figure out as we turn the page to December when Longwood will have a slew of winnable games.

- The starting five went missing today just scoring 11 points if you don’t count Nwogbo. The effort just wasn’t good enough and that has to change when the Lancers return home December 3 against Dartmouth.

- Victor Dorsey played about 3 minutes Friday and Saturday but today was really his debut. Dorsey looked like a freshman at times with 4 turnovers and some lazy fouls but he did have 2 points and 8 rebounds.

- Ryan Badowski was the only other Lancer in double-figures with 12 points and 4 rebounds.

Longwood needs to find their pride now as they’ll see their best two opponents of the season coming up against George Washington and Iowa.

Karrington Ward will give Longwood quite the challenge in the frontcourt today.

Where: Convocation Center (Ypsilanti, MI)
When: Sunday November 23, 2:30 PM
TV/Streaming: Eagle All-Access (PPV)
Radio: WVHL 92.9
Line: +16.5

LancersBlog GameThread
Q&A with Hustle Belt

Keys to the Game

1. Limit Turnovers: Longwood ran an effective offense last night shooting 55.4% from the field. The bad thing was that the Lancers turned the ball over far too much. All in all there were 17 turnovers and every Lancer in the lineup, except Kanayo Obi-Rapu, coughed up the ball at least twice.

2. Improved Free Throw Shooting: Longwood shot just 25% from the free throw line yesterday but that wasn’t the only problem. It was the lack of volume, 8 attempts, more so than the percentage that was troubling. Longwood has guys who can slash, like DJ Allen and Quincy Taylor, who should be able to draw contact and get to the line. Longwood cannot afford another 20+ free throw attempt differential today.

3. Quincy Finding His Rhythm: Longwood’s offense looked fine for most of the first half yesterday but Quincy Taylor just didn’t look like he was in a groove for about the first 30+ minutes of action. Quincy woke up a bit and really became a huge factor and lead the Lancers comeback in the second half. If we could get 40 minutes of that version of Quincy then we have a chance today against the host Eagles.

Game Summary

Longwood will close out the EMU Showcase Tournament today with a matinee against the host Eagles who currently stand 4-0 this season. EMU is the most talented team in this tournament but they certainly aren’t as talented as the team that made the NCAA Tournament last year, as evidenced by their 10 point average margin of victory this year against comparable competition to Longwood. EMU beat Youngstown State 71-62 on Friday and then beat UNC Greensboro 70-62 last night.

The frontcourt leads the way for the Eagles with senior Karrington Ward and George Mason transfer Anali Okoloji. Ward is an uber athletic 6’7 forward who is averaging 17.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per gam thus far this season. He’s a different kind of big that Longwood has not seen before this year and combining him with Okoloji should give the Lancers problem. Okoloji is averaging 10 points and 5.8 rebounds this year after playing sparingly at George Mason and Seton Hall over the last few years.

The backcourt is lead by sophomore guard Raven Lee who dropped 25 points on UNCG last night. On the season Lee is averaging 19 points and 2.5 rebounds per contest while shooting over 47% from beyond the arc. Lee is joined by senior Duquesne transfer Mike Talley who orchestrates the Eagles offense and is averaging over 4 assists per game while contributing nearly 10 points per game.

Long story short, this will be a tough game for Longwood but it’s most certainly a winnable one if everyone is clicking on all cylinders. The next three games Longwood will play in will feature tougher and tougher opponents as the schedule progresses.

Lotanna Nwobo is averaging a double-double for the whole EMU Tournament thus far with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Shaq Johnson has also been impressive with 14.5 points and 4.5 assists per contest. Both have a good chance to be named to the all-tournament team if they perform well today in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

A big thanks to Alexander Alvarado the Eastern Michigan correspondent for Hustle Belt, for answering our questions about today’s match up with the Eagles. Be sure to check out the awesome MAC coverage at Hustle Belt.

EMU was a tournament team a year ago, what is the same and what is different about this year’s edition of the Eagles?

The defensive mindset of this team is still the same as it’s ever been. It looks different without MAC defensive player of the year Da’Shonte Riley and Glenn Bryant, but that doesn’t make scoring on its 2-3 zone any easier. Some of the players like Anali Okoloji (say that ten times fast) and Jodan Price. We’ve also got our top three returning scorers from last season in Karrington Ward, Raven Lee and Mike Talley all back on the team. We’re already confident enough in our defense, but we need to put points on the board, and we ought to be more threatening on that end of the floor than last season.

I’ll be really happy when this tournament is over so I don’t have to type “Ypsilanti” anymore. Tell us a little bit about the town and the basketball community. Really it just sounds cold…

You hear bad stuff about Ypsi a lot. Gun shots, crime, assault, just lots of bad negativity. I absolutely love Ypsi. Fun bars, very diverse group of people in terms of race, class, religion, political views, and just a ton of variety in the smaller community. If you’re going to Ypsi for one day and you need to eat or want to get a drink, go to Sidetrack. Doesn’t matter what time or for how long, just go there. 

Basketball, it’s tough. Tough because it should be a huge deal. Basketball fans are everywhere, but everybody’s butts are at home and not in the seats of The Convo. We hosted a first-round postseason tourney game last year and less than 400 people showed up (http://www.hustlebelt.com/2014/3/18/5524450/emu-students-should-stop-being-so-damn-lame). Do people care? Yes. Just attendance is an issue, but I’m going to be an optimist with the way Rob Murphy bringing this program back to life.

I saw a video of the EMU football team really struggling to take down some concrete bricks with a sledgehammer for an entrance to a game. Does the basketball team also do construction and/or demolition before their games?

Hell no. Rob Murphy’s a rapper. The only demos these guys are doing is recording their freestyles. (homage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQyvHRIC3e0)

EMU comes into this tournament 2-0 with wins over Oakland and a non-Division I opponent. Both games were 12 points wins, what are your key takeaways from those two contests? 

(Well, I’ll answer for 3-0 for timeliness)

Honestly, these are expected. I see the games have been closer, which is scary, but the true exposure games will come next month when we have to go to Dayton. Right now, this group has to really build chemistry in the games. That’ll be most important to improve on throughout the season. 

What are your predictions and expectations for EMU in this tournament? What’s your prediction for Sunday afternoon?

EMU ought to finish this thing without a loss. As long as Karrington Ward never gets injured, I’m more than confident in Murphy’s team to not spoil the EMU Showcase. Let’s say 74-62 over the Lancers.

Longwood fell tonight in 82-72 in a game that exploited some early season troubles for the Lancers but also showed a lot of character. Here are our instant reactions.

Player of the Game: Shaq Johnson is our Player of the Game and he might not have been if it hadn’t come to light that Shaq was suffering through a virus in this one. Despite being sick Shaq posted 16 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists. It was a gritty performance for a guy that continues to play harder and harder in each and every outing.

Game Summary:

- Longwood just gave up too many easy shots today as the Penguins shot 52.6% from the field. There were some side ball screens that the Lancers just weren’t prepared for that left a lot of open mid-range jumpers for the Penguins. Shawn Amiker really torched the Lancers going 9-for-14 from the field and ending the night with 14 points.

- The Lancers were only 2-for-8 from the free throw line tonight which just needs to improve. Youngstown State seemed to get a contact call every time they drove in the lane and ended up with 30 free throws. This is a bit of a reflection on the referees but regardless Longwood needs to shoot better from the charity stripe.

- Turnovers were also a key reason for the loss. Longwood turned the ball over 17 times which is far too much. Every Lancer not named Kanayo Obi-Rapu had at least two turnovers.

- The reason I say that Longwood showed a lot of character tonight is because this game was teetering on a 20 point blow out approaching the 10 minute mark. It was then when Quincy Taylor decided to take over and found his rhythm that was absent before then. Quincy did it from the outside and driving to the bucket and finished the game with 14 points and 7 assists. Quincy brought the game back within striking distance for the Lancers and made it a ballgame the last four minutes.

- Lotanna Nwogbo once again flashed how much of an upgrade he is in the post. The big man finished with 16 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. He had 3 turnovers but he seems to become more and more reliable each game. Longwood didn’t win the rebounding battle but they did win the points and the paint battle in large part to Nwogbo.

- Kanayo Obi-Rapu had a nice night off the bench hitting two very timely threes. Obi-Rapu did foul out but finished with 11 points and 2 rebounds. Coach Gee said he finds a lot more rhythm at the two guard rather than being forced to play point guard when Quincy was out.

The opponent for Longwood will now get harder and harder with each game starting tomorrow with host Eastern Michigan. Longwood is looking for a strong finish to the EMU Showcase when they tip off at 2:30 PM against the Eagles.

Longwood will focus on YSU’s Bobby Hain in the interior today.

Where: Convocation Center (Ypsilanti, MI)
When: Saturday, November 22, 4:30 PM
TV/Streaming: Eagle All-Access (PPV)
Radio: WVHL 92.9
Line: +7.5

LancersBlog GameThread
Q&A w/ Mid-Major Madness

Keys to the Game 

1. UNLEASH THE QUINCY!: Quincy Taylor will make his official Lancers debut today after sitting out the first three games of the season. The UAB transfer was the best player on the court in Longwood’s exhibition win over Hampden-Sydney where he posted 22 points, 6 assists, and 2 steals. Longwood has had spells against Averett and JMU where the offense has looked stagnant at times and Taylor is certainly thought to be the biggest remedy for that.

2. Fresh Legs: Three games in three days is tough and four games in five days is even tougher. The overtime win over UNCG yesterday meant five Lancers played at least 33 minutes. The good news is Quincy adds depth and allows guys like Leron Fisher to fit back into their roles on the team. Kanayo Obi-Rapu only played 14 minutes yesterday and Victor Dorsey appeared just two minutes. Keep an eye on Coach Gee’s rotation today and how it may be different than what we’ve seen thus far this year.

3. Confidence and Energy: Despite leaning on some youngsters yesterday Longwood looked like the more confident team in a big overtime win. You could tell that this team has a totally different mentality than anything we’ve seen the past ten-plus years. The energy coming from Longwood’s bench in terms of cheering and helping the players on the floor was impressive as well. We just need to keep this up to be successful in the this tournament.

Another area of confidence Longwood should have in this one is game-planning. Coach Gee saw Youngstown State at least two times a year at Cleveland State and is very familiar with Jerry Slocum’s Penguins. Gee also began his collegiate coaching career at Youngstown State when he was there from 1989 to 1993.

Game Summary 

Longwood will battle Horizon League opponent Youngstown State for the first time ever today at 4:30 for the second game of the Eastern Michigan Showcase Tournament in Ypislanti, Michigan. Longwood is coming off a 81-79 overtime win over UNC Greensboro yesterday, while the Penguins are coming off a 71-62 loss to host Eastern Michigan.

Youngstown State enters this game at 1-3 with all three of their losses coming against MAC schools. The Penguins lone win came in a non-Division I match up against Oberlin.

In looking at the statistical for the Penguins today they’ve really struggled to score this season averaging 64 points per game, which is about 6 points below the national average. They have really struggled behind the line shooting just over 22%, which ranks 321st in the country. YSU also averages 22.5 fouls per game, which is well above the national average.

Today’s opponent is a guard heavy team but they are lead by their big man Bobby Hain who is now averaging 14.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game to start the season. Hain stands 6’10 and is joined by Fletcher Larson (3.5 ppg) and freshman Sidney Umude (2.8 ppg). For the first time this season Longwood might actually have the advantage inside, especially with the way Lotanna Nwogbo has stepped up.

Leading the guard heavy lineup for YSU will be senior D.J. Cole. So far this season Cole is averaging 6.3 points, 5.3 assists, and 3 rebounds. While Cole orchestrates the offense it’s Marcus Keene who has been the biggest scoring threat out of the backcourt for the Penguins thus far averaging 13.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.5 assists. Finally, rounding out the backcourt trio is Shawn Amiker Jr. The 6’5 senior is averaging 11.8 points and has also been a big contributor on the boards with 5.5 rebounds. As you can tell the Penguins’ guards crash the glass pretty hard.

With so many guards on the court you could see Longwood counter with a guard heavy lineup of their own at times especially with Quincy Taylor back in the fold.

Tip-off is once again set for 4:30 PM at the EMU Convocation Center. The game can be listened to for free on WVHL or you can pay the $7 to watch the game on Eagle All-Access.

Kyle Nelson who covers the Horizon League for Mid-Major Madness was nice enough to sit down with us and talk about Saturday’s match up with Youngstown State.

Kendrick Perry was far and away the leader of this team a year ago. With Perry moving on who are some of the guys to watch out for the Penguins on the hardwood this season? 

Bobby Hain is their leading returning scorer and rebounder.  I really think he needs to have a big season for the Penguins to do anything this season. He’s an athletic big, but you don’t have to guard him at the 3 point line. He’ll do all of his damage down low.

DJ Cole looks to be their glue guy and overall leader.  He learned under one of the best guards in the conference for 3 years, and now it’s his turn to take over for Perry. He’s averaged 30 minutes a game the last 2 season and took less than 6 shots a game. I could see that getting kicked up to 10 this year and if he hits them at the clip he did last season he should average about 12 points a game.

Shawn Amiker has been interesting this season. So far he’s getting about double the minutes he did last year and he’s shooting. A lot. He’s also pulling down 6.7 rebounds so far this early season, but was shut down against Central Michigan. Before the season I wasn’t thinking he’d be a huge factor, but I’ll be watching him closer after the Kent State game.

YSU is off the a 1-2 start coming into this EMU Showcase but they’ve battled two MAC teams pretty tough. What are the biggest takeaways from the early sample size thus far?

Amiker looks good so far, Cole has been ice cold, but I don’t expect that to continue, and Hain can’t stay on the court. I’m impressed with this team’s tenacity, but I don’t see them competing for a Horizon League title on effort alone. There’s really not that much to take away from 3 games, one of which was against a non-D1 school. These next 3 games will tell us if YSU is a bottom of the barrel team or something slightly better than UIC.

It looks like three point shooting and shooting in general has been pretty poor for the Penguins early on. Is this a concern long term for the season and is it YSU’s biggest weakness? 

I think lack of size is their biggest weakness, but shooting may be right there. They have one player (Hain) over 6’8” who plays any sort of minutes.  They have a 7 footer on the roster, but if Jorden Kaufman is getting any run then things have gone really bad. Fletcher Larson and Sidney Umude are the other “bigs” but Larson is a 6’8” senior who only came in when Hain got into foul trouble and Umude is only 6’7”.

This is a team that is going to shoot a lot of 3s and if they get hot look out. I don’t see them doing that though.

You remember the Seinfeld episode with Jimmy? Jimmy can jump! Well Marcus Keene is similar to Jimmy, he’s a chucker. He’s taken 24 threes so far this season and connected on only 8 of them. That combined with Cole aforementioned cold streak has led to the downtown problem you’ve seen so far.

What would you say the biggest strength of the YSU team is? 

Leadership? This team is fairly young, but Cole and Hain have been around the block and had some good teammate mentors. They will keep the Penguins focused and I don’t think you’ll ever see this team hang their head during what looks to be a tough season. Jerry Slocum is an excellent coach and he’ll have his team ready for every game. That said I don’t think they’ll have the talent to win the games they are ready for.

What is your prediction for Saturday’s game against Longwood and what would be a successful tournament for YSU?  

I think if they come out with 2 wins that will be a good tournament. I’d be shocked if they beat Eastern Michigan tonight, but they should be able to beat UNC Greensboro and Longwood. I do see this being a lower scoring affair, maybe something along the lines of 65-60. Neither teams are particularly good at shooting the ball so we could have a lot of rebounds and since neither team is particularly tall I think I’d have to give the edge to Youngstown. I really don’t like to make predictions because I’m always wrong. Last season on the Valpo fan site they did an over/under and I was wrong on all but one very obvious under. So if you’re reading this in Vegas, bet the over and probably Longwood.

Leron Fisher is our Player of the Game. (Photo: Matthew Alexander)

Leron Fisher is our Player of the Game. (Photo: Matthew Alexander)

Longwood pulled off a big 81-79 overtime win tonight without Quincy Taylor on the floor. Here is our instant reactions from the BIG WIN.

Player of the Game: Man is this tough… five Lancers finished in double-figures but I think we’re going to give this to Leron Fisher. Yea yea… Lotanna Nwogbo had a double-double but Leron was a leader tonight and made some clutch free throws down the stretch and had the steal to solidify the Lancers win. Fisher ended the game with 12 points, 3 steals, 3 rebounds, an assist and a block. This was by far his best offensive game of the season.

KneeJerk Reactions:

- UNLEASH THE BEAST! Lotanna Nwogbo finally looked as advertised with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Nwogbo was phenomenal from the free throw line going 10-for-11 and he really went to work in the post tonight. If he can play with this type of intensity and keep up the incredible free throw shooting then he’ll be a HUGE asset for the Lancers down the stretch.

- DJ Allen has turned into a scoring machine and posted 22 points tonight, including a 4-for-8 performance from beyond the arc. The stats speak for themselves but DJ hit big shots in big moments tonight, it’s been incredible to see his maturation in just one offseason. Coach Luhn would brag to me all offseason about “wait until you see DJ”, I SEE HIM COACH!

- Speaking of big shots, how about “the Dude” Ryan Badowski. The ice cold assassin was only 3-for-10 from three but he nailed a huge three that should’ve iced the game for the Lancers if it wasn’t for Tevon Saddler off balance circus shot to send the game into overtime. Badowski finished with 15 points and 2 rebounds.

- I can’t say enough about Shaq Johnson tonight. He gets better and better with each game and is a total team player. You can see why he was such a highly touted player but he’s a dude that “get’s it”. Shaq had his patented #ShaqAttack dunk in the first half when Longwood mounted their comeback and finished with 13 points, 6 assists, and 3 rebounds.

- Damarion Geter really exemplifies everything that is the Coach Gee era. Geter never flashes big numbers in terms of scorer but he’s such a young leader. He gets the sets both on the offensive and defensive end and finished tonight with 1 point, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, and a block.

- This game was one of the first that you could see the value of Coach Gee’s in-game coaching. We just didn’t have the horses last year to see it but coach called a great game. He used his timeouts well and broke the game down into the proper media timeout portions in terms of substitutions. Longwood basically only played a six man rotation with Kanayo Obi-Rapu having an off night and Victor Dorsey playing sparingly.

- Longwoood brought all kinds of different defenses tonight and a lot of different pressure. The game was extremely well scouted and the Lancers finished the game forcing 24 turnovers.

Longwood will tip off again tomorrow at 4:30 against Youngstown State. We’ll have “Eyes of the Enemy” and the “GameDay Preview” up. Saturday’s game will mark Quincy Taylor’s official debut.

Longwood will look to slow down UNCG guard Tevon Saddler in Game 1 of the EMU Showcase Friday afternoon.

Where: Convocation Center (Ypsilanti, MI)
When: Friday, November 21, 4:30 PM
TV/Streaming: Eagle All-Access (PPV)
Radio: WVHL 92.9

LancersBlog GameThread
Q&A w/ Spartan Fans Nation
Game Notes (UNCG)
Game Notes (Longwood)

Keys to the Game

1. Step Up Inside: In our Q&A with Spartan Fans Nation Brad talked a lot about how the strength of UNCG’s team is their frontcourt. UNCG has four guys that average 10+ minutes who stand 6’7 or above, lead by sophomore RJ White. If Longwood wants to pull off the W then they are going to need Lotanna Nwogbo, Shaq Johnson, Damarion Geter, and Victory Dorsey to step up and for guys like DJ Allen to try to draw contact on the offensive end to force fouls.

2. One Man Press: This might be a game where Coach Gee lets Leron Fisher off the leash. UNCG really doesn’t have a true point guard starting right now due to injuries and Tevon Saddler has taken over the primary duties. Saddler has turned the ball over 11 times in two games, a stat that likely has Fisher licking his chops. It’ll be interesting if the 5’11 will Fisher will match up with the 6’6 Saddler or if it’s a match up for Shaq to lock down instead.

3. Nobody Disappear: Damarion Geter and Kanayo Obi-Rapu went missing at JMU with neither scoring a bucket the whole game. Obi-Rapu was 0-for-6 while Geter didn’t even register a shot in 28 minutes of play. If Longwood wants to win games without Quincy Taylor on the court then they can’t have games where guys disappear, much less multiple players.

Game Summary

Welcome to Ypsilanti! Longwood kicks off the Eastern Michigan Showcase, or whatever this thing is called, on Friday at the Convocation Center on EMU’s campus. The Lancers opponent is a rather local one in UNC Greensboro, but these two teams have not matched up since the 1990-91 season. Two schools about two hours apart playing 20 minutes from the Detroit airport. The atmosphere is sure to be off the charts.

We thought the main storyline in this game was going to be Longwood matching up with former point guard Nik Brown. Brown is not expected to play due to some mysterious illness and by all accounts he may not even be with the team in Michigan. If that sounds familiar to anyone then you are not alone.

UNCG comes into with a 1-1 record after beating non-Division I Chowan and then losing to UNC Wilmington earlier this week at home. Tevon Saddler, the reigning Southern Conference Freshman of the Year, currently leads the Spartans averaging 18.5 points, 4.5 assists, 4 steals, and 3.5 rebounds per game while nearly playing 35 minutes a night. As mentioned before, Saddler is now the primary ball-handler for the Spartans and he has been very prone to turnovers early this season.

The other “guard” to watch is 6’7 Nicholas Paulos who should remind Lancers’ fans a little of Jackson Kent from JMU. Paulos is averaging 7 points per game and likes to bomb it from outside. On Tuesday he was 2-for-9 from three, so he certainly does have off nights. Keep an eye on how or if the Lancers perimeter defense improves from the short turnaround Wednesday night.

Right now nearly 70% of UNCG’s scoring comes from three guys, the aforementioned Saddler and forwards Kayel Locke and RJ White. White is the bigger of the two standing 6’8 and is averaging 18 points and 7 rebounds. His numbers are particularly impressive considering he has only averaged just over 24 minutes in the Spartans first two games. White also has active hands like Saddler and has stolen the ball six times this season already. Locke on the other hand is just 6’5 but plays a lot bigger. He’s averaging 14 points and 5.5 rebounds and was the Spartans leading scorer against UNCW with 22 points.  As stated before, Longwood’s post guys could have a busy night.

This is certainly a winnable game for the Lancers and different statistical sites give the Spartans a five to seven point advantage. This would be a great win for Longwood to springboard into the rest of the tournament, especially with Quincy Taylor coming back on Saturday against Youngstown State.

The Rotunda: Quincy Taylor Takes Struggles in Stride