Saturday, February 27, 2010

FYI: ONU too much for IU-SB

(Sorry, couldn't resist all the abbreviations there in the headline.)

The women's hoops team at Olivet Nazarene continued its late-season surge Saturday, rolling past Indiana University-South Bend 114-74 in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference. Their fourth consecutive victory secured the No. 3 seed for the Tigers (14-16, 6-4 CCAC) heading into the conference tournament next week, which essentially means they won't have to face Saint Xavier, ranked second in the most recent NAIA poll, until the final. That is, provided ONU gets that far.

But I digress ...

The Titans (19-10, 5-5) won the earlier matchup between the teams by the score of 84-76 on Feb. 2. It wasn't nearly as close this time, almost from the get-go, as Lexie Heinold made two 3-pointers in the opening 54 seconds. The score grew to 14-3 at the 16:19 mark of the first half, 24-8 at 12:54, 40-19 at 6:12, 50-24 at 3:27 and finally peaked at 63-32 on Jaimie Buckman's 3 that came 15 seconds before halftime.

After that, the second half essentially was exercise.

"I'm a little surprised at how much we've improved, given that we only have one senior and two juniors playing along with 11 underclassmen," Coach Porter wrote in an e-mail to me shortly after the game. "We've always seen significant progress from our teams since we installed the Grinnell 'System' six years ago, but maybe because of our youth, the improvement this year is even more dramatic than usual."

Evidently. ONU finished 37-for-82 from the field, including 21-for-49 on 3-pointers, and tallied 30 assists on those 37 baskets. What a ratio. Five players reached double figures, led by Simone Coburn with 16. Heinhold and Danielle Tolbert each had 15, Nikki Dier added 14 and Buckman scored 12, and four more players chipped in at least seven points, as Coach Porter pointed out in his e-mail.

And the Tigers totaled 16 steals while forcing 29 turnovers. All in all, an amazing effort in the regular season finale. They now have won five of their past six games while averaging 117.3 points in that span.

ONU gets another home game in the first round of the conference tourney, hosting struggling Holy Cross on Tuesday. The Tigers swept the season series by an average score of 126-64; a victory there sends them to second-seeded St. Francis, which lost to ONU 119-111 in overtime two weeks ago. Let's keep our fingers crossed for Coach Porter and his team, and a HUGE thanks to him for keeping us in the loop.

Elsewhere Saturday, the Glenville State College women's team didn't enjoy the same success, losing a heartbreaker 71-70 to West Virginia Wesleyan in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. And, yes, those 70 points are a season low against NCAA Division II competition for the Pioneers (they scored 45 in a loss to D-I Liberty back in December).

Still, they had a chance to win the final seconds, but a putback attempt in traffic by leading scorer Donita Adams was off, ending a five-game winning streak and giving the Bobcats the regular season title. If Glenville State had won, it would have secured the title, so it was a tough way to go out at home. Yet the Pioneers (17-9, 15-7 WVIAC) came a long way in coach Bunky Harkleroad's first season, improving from a 9-19 mark a year ago that included a 7-13 finish in the conference. This year, despite the loss, they carry the No. 4 seed into the tournament.

Adams had 22 points to lead the way, as she has much of the year, and Kristen Golden added 11. Glenville State shot only 24-for-87 (27.6 percent) for the game -- 10-for-40 (25 percent) on 3s -- and couldn't capitalize on 30 turnovers by West Virginia Wesleyan (19-8, 17-5). Hopefully, these two teams will meet again in the tournament.

The Pioneers open at home Monday against 13th-seeded Alderson-Broaddus, with the tip at 7:30. Here's hoping Coach Harkleroad and his team enjoy a long run in the postseason.

The first-place showdown is set

The boys' team at Whitmore Lake (Mich.) High School did its part, using a strong third quarter to run past Adrian (Mich.) Madison 103-77 Friday night in the Tri-County Conference. With their 10th consecutive victory, the Trojans (14-5, 11-2 TCC) remain one game behind Clinton in the conference, with those two teams playing in the regular season finale Tuesday at Whitmore Lake. In the first meeting, Whitmore Lake won 85-76, so in my simple brain, sweeping the season series should give coach Dave Arnold's bunch the No. 1 seed from the conference.

On Friday night, the Trojans led 50-42 at halftime before outscoring Madison 28-9 in the third quarter to pull away. Whitmore Lake finished the game 39-for-100 from the field, including 22-for-66 on 3-pointers, with Colton "The" Judge leading the way with 22 points. Four other players also reached double figures: Austin Cattley, Jake Kerrigan and Alex Cattley each had 11 points and Kenneth Jenkins added 10. Amazing to think the Trojans scored 103 points and made only THREE free throws. Wow.

Coach Arnold told "The second and third quarter was the best we've played defensively since we've been in 'The System.' It was an oustanding effort defensively."

The Trojans have averaged 94.8 points during the current 10-game winning streak, which began with a 117-80 victory over Morenci. In that span, they have made 188 of 590 3s, with Judge scoring 22.8 points per game. The 22 treys Friday night gave them 325 for the season, extending their school record.

So on to the big game Tuesday night; I wish Whitmore Lake the best of luck. Check back next week to see how it went.

Friday, February 26, 2010

As expected, Glenville State rolls

The Glenville State College women's team, coached by Bunky Harkleroad, had little trouble with winless Salem International on Thursday night, rolling to a 128-63 victory in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The Pioneers (17-8, 15-6 WVIAC) scored the first nine points and never looked back.

Donita Adams led six players in double figures with 23 points, followed by Beth Deren (22 points), Autumn Davis (18), Kim Stephens (15), Ginnie Petties (13) and Kristen Golden (10). All 10 players scored at least five points and played at least 18 minutes. Glenville State finished 48-for-105 from the field, including 25-for-68 on 3-pointers, and had 20 steals. Salem International (0-26, 0-21) turned it over 30 times.

Not really much else in the box. I watched the initial onslaught by the Pioneers before heading out, and it was apparent the outcome wasn't really in question. Congrats to Coach Harkleroad and his team, which faces an important regular season finale Saturday at home against West Virginia Wesleyan. Given the downright impossible-to-understand formula in place in the WVIAC (I wouldn't begin to explain it here, suffice to say "wins" and "losses" are weighted and calculated to devise a "power rating"), I'll have to rely on the conference Website for the lowdown: a Glenville State victory and a Seton Hill loss to Fairmont State makes Glenville State the regular season champ. If the Pioneers lose, they could drop all the way to sixth. Whew.

All I do know is that I will be rooting for Glenville State, regardless of what happens elsewhere. Go get 'em!

Check back early Saturday for an update on the Whitmore Lake High School (Mich.) Trojans, who traveled to Madison later Friday for an important game in the Tri-County Conference. Win that one and coach Dave Arnold's squad has a shot at the regular-season title in the finale at home against Clinton on Tuesday.

Also Saturday, coach Doug Porter and the women's team from Olivet Nazarene host Indiana-South Bend in a tussle for third place in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference. The Tigers (13-16, 5-4 CCAC) have won four out of their past five. Good luck, ONU.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Record-setting night for Whitmore Lake ...

... and again it comes against Morenci.

This is the high school team located outside Detroit, where coach Dave Arnold has the Trojans on quite a roll. They won their ninth consecutive game Wednesday night, beating Morenci 81-73 on the road in the Tri-County Conference. The result leaves Whitmore Lake (13-5, 10-2 TCC) one game behind Clinton in the conference, and those schools complete their schedules against each other Tuesday night.

But I'm getting ahead of myself ...

On Wednesday, the Trojans finished 14-for-50 on 3-pointers, less than half the number they made while setting the Michigan record in the previous game against Morenci on Jan. 21. In that one, they were 29-for-78 and won 117-80, the first victory in this winning streak, and even though they couldn't match that mark this time, they did set another record.

Those 14 3s give Whitmore Lake 303 this season, bettering the previous total of 292 set all the way back in 2008-09 (yes, that's last year). And, of course, this season isn't quite over yet. Colton Judge (man, doesn't that name scream superstar?) scored 17 points to move past 1,000 for his career, becoming the first player for the Trojans to reach that total since the school joined the TCC

Alex Cattley led Whitmore Lake with 19 points and made three of the 3-pointers.

Solid effort for Coach Arnold and his crew, which travels to Madison on Friday to set up what might be a regular season championship showdown next Tuesday against Clinton. Here's hoping they pull it off.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

ONU goes off on Holy Cross

The Tigers of Olivet Nazarene, coached by Doug Porter, scored early and often in a Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference game against Holy Cross College on Tuesday and won going away 133-57. Yep, that's right, a 76-point margin of victory. Of course, the Saints aren't very good this year, falling to 5-25 overall and 0-10 in the conference. Still, ONU (13-16, 5-4) really has it going as we get to the end of the season.

Where to start? Well, the Tigers finished 47-for-117 from the field -- including 21-for-61 on 3-pointers -- and had 25 steals. Lexie Heinold scored 24 points (all on 3s) in only 14 minutes of playing time to pace six players in double figures, with Simone Coburn adding 22 points in 12 minutes of run. The others doing the scoring included Jaimie Buckman (15 points, all on 3s), Holly Wiersema and Rachel Kearney (12 points apiece) and Danielle Tolbert (11 points, along with eight boards). Point guard Danielle Pipal and Sandy Cabadas each finished with five steals as Holy Cross turned it over 41 times.

ONU has won four of its past five games while averaging 118 points in that span. Coach Porter and his squad have an important game Saturday at home against Indiana-South Bend, with the winner finishing third in the conference. Tip is scheduled for 2 p.m. EST, and I'll give you an update as soon as I can.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Henry Ford update ...

... and I don't mean the car builder.

This is Henry Ford Community College in Dearborn, Mich., just outside Detroit. Bob Belf, a longtime proponent of "The System" and the administrator of the Yahoo! message board devoted to it, coaches the women's team there and he was kind enough to e-mail some details on the season. Here it is:

Coach Belf: "We have played four times since our last update. Due to snow we had a game postponed from Wednesday the 10th to the 11th. A weekday game on the road costs us two players (note from Keith: I'm guessing this is due to class schedule) and we faced the complacency of beating a team by 40 the first time. We took a 10-point halftime lead only to go stone cold in the second half. Panic set in and we lost a winnable game 94-80.

"We then headed north for our next contest that comes with a three and a half hour ride, but this time we took the full squad of nine. Once again, we shot the ball poorly but 'The System' took total effect in this contest. We got down 20-6 only to come back for a three-point halftime lead. We stretched it out in the second half, getting it to 90-60 and winning the game 91-67. We fired up 122 shots and went 14-for-70 from the arc. We simply overwhelmed them with shots and pressure as we caused 42 miscues. Nice win due to effort on the road.

"(Last) week we had the mid-week road contest minus two players at the No. 5 team in the country. This was a 'pink zone' game for breast cancer awareness and we had a great time being involved but the result was expected as they ran us all over the floor, winning 109-58. We made 14 triples in the game but due to their size, we were 2-for-34 inside the arc.

"(Saturday), we faced the third-place team in the league and our final home game of the year. We had energy to spare and came out firing. In the middle of the first quarter of the game we got great pace of game and they fell into the pace and we lead at the half 41-30. The second hlaf was a little odd as they worked very hard to slow us down with a three-quarter, 2-2-1 press, but the loss of pace made it harder for them to get back in the game. We attacked the pressure a little more deliberately and willingly took shots around the basket. We kept the lead around 10 the entire game and scored 44 in the second half. We win 87-76 with a big win, which is our first against a team with a better record than us in our league.

"Many positive things happened for us this year. We are now in the top 10 in the nation in scoring at 78.7 points a game. My best shooter finished first in the nation in 3s made with 90. My point guard is ranked No. 5 in the country in assists and we had fired in 305 triples while shooting over 1,200 attempts.

"Amazing to me what nine kids were able to do."

Absolutely, Coach Belf. Thanks for the keeping us informed, and good luck down the road.

Now, to other teams running the most perfect style of play known to the universe: Glenville State College returned home for a fairly easy victory, outrunning Alderson-Broaddus 86-68 Monday night in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

The Pioneers (16-8, 14-6 WVIAC) won their fourth consective game despite shooting only 27 percent from the field. How, you might ask? Well, it helped that they took 104 shots (unreal!), grabbed 41 offensive rebounds (you can't be serious!) and forced 38 turnovers (no way!). Yep, that's "The System" for you.

Donita Adams led the way 16 points and Tiffany Huffman added 12 for Glenville State, which finished 9-for-54 on 3-pointers. Still, the effort was good enough to help the Pioneers stay tied for fourth in the conference with Fairmont State, one game behind Charleston University and West Virginia Wesleyan and a game and a half behind Seton Hill. How good has Seton Hill been lately? The Griffins have won 11 consecutive games to move to the top of the WVIAC with less than a week remaining.

Glenville State hosts winless Salem International on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. Good luck to coach Bunky Harkleroad and his team.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Grinnell ends season with a W

Matt Chalupa had 22 points, Matt Skelly added 17 and Grinnell scored the first nine points on its way to a 119-95 victory over Monmouth on Saturday in the Midwest Conference. It was the season finale for both teams, since neither was one of the four schools to qualify for the conference tournament.

The Pioneers (8-15, 6-10) had 3-pointers for their first five baskets and ran out to a commanding lead almost from the start on Senior Day at Darby Gym. John Bruns and Ross Preston each got starting nods in their final home games for Grinnell, and Bruns wasted no time to shoot. He missed a 3 only 5 seconds into the game and Kale Knisley got the offensive rebound. The ball went back to Bruns, and this time he didn't miss, giving the Pioneers a 3-0 lead.

The margin was 66-41 at the break and got below 20 only once in the second half. Grinnell finished 36-for-87 from the field, including 20-for-55 from beyond the arc, and forced 24 turnovers.

Freshman guard Marques Valdez had a great effort, filling up his stat sheet with 12 points, six rebounds, five assists, one block and one steal, all in 10 minutes of playing time. Knisley was equally impressive, going for six points, 10 boards, two blocks and two steals in 11 minutes. Bruns scored 12 points on four 3s.

With only two seniors saying farewell to "The System," coach David Arseneault should have an experienced squad back next season. I have no doubt he'll lead his team back to the top of the Midwest Conference.

Elsewhere, the Olivet Nazarene women's team used a big second half to blow away Robert Morris College 122-88 Saturday in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference. Holly Wiersema led the way with 25 points -- eight 3-pointers sure helped -- and Simone Coburn added 19 points and seven rebounds. Danielle Pipal came up huge, as well, going for eight points, 11 assists and six steals; the Tigers (12-16, 4-4 CCAC) had 17 steals and forced 35 turnovers.

Early in the second half, a jumper by Chanel Jones-Delas brought Robert Morris (15-12, 2-6) within 10 before a layup by Rachel Kearney started a 15-2 spurt over a bit more than 4 miutes that allowed ONU to take complete control. It was 83-60 at that point, and the margin never again was under 20 points. The Tigers put up 65 points after halftime to post their second-highest total of the season.

With two games remaining in the regular season, ONU sits fourth in the conference, one game behind Indiana-South Bend. Coach Doug Porter and his team travel to Holy Cross College on Tuesday before finishing at home against Indiana-South Bend next Saturday. Good luck to the Tigers.

Finally, coach Bunky Harkleroad and Glenville State College held off Davis & Elkins 91-82 Saturday, the final road game of the season for the Pioneers (15-8, 13-6 West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference). Autumn Davis made six 3s and scored 22 points, and Donita Adams added 21 points. Glenville State was a bit off in the second half, converting only 5 of 20 shots from downtown, but still had enough for its third consecutive victory.

The score was tied at 78 with 3:08 remaining in the second half when Ginnie Petties made a layup to give the Pioneers the lead for good. That opened a 13-2 run to break open the game and leave them one game in the loss column behind the leaders in the WVIAC. Seton Hill has won 10 straight to move to 15-5 in the conference, with West Virginia Wesleyan and Charleston University sitting at 14-5. Fairmont State and Shepherd are tied with the Pioneers at 13-6.

Coach Harkleroad's bunch hosts Alderson Broaddus on Monday at 5:30, then entertains Salem International on Thursday before completing the schedule against West Virginia Wesleyan on Saturday. I hope this final week goes well for Glenville State.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Whitmore Lake keeps rolling

The Whitmore Lake (Mich.) Trojans won their eighth consecutive game Thursday night, outrunning Petersburg Summerfield 110-86 in the Tri-County Conference. And, yes, this was a high school boys game, so those totals came in only 32 minutes. Wow.

Colton Judge (sounds like the name of a star, doesn't it?) led the way with 31 points, including eight 3-pointers. As a team, the Trojans (12-5, 9-2 TCC) finished 25-for-67 from downtown and 38-for-98 overall to reach at least 100 points for the third time this season. They also stayed one game behind Clinton in the conference, and those teams meet in the season finale March 2.

Whitmore Lake scored at least 30 points in three quarters in this one to avenge an earlier loss to Summerfield, which won 109-103 in overtime about a month ago. Congratulations to coach Dave Arnold and his crew. They go at it again Monday at Morenci; back on Jan. 21, the Trojans won 117-80 and set the Michigan State record by making 29 3s. Dare we hope for a similar output?

Speaking of records, I have a brief update on the Silver Streaks from Galesburg (Ill.) High School. I mentioned they ended their season at 17-14 with a regional loss this week and added a few thoughts on the success coach Evan Massey had in his first year running "The System." Well, here's an idea of how good it really was, not including the improvement from last year's 14-18 record:

- According to Coach Massey, via the National Federal and Illinois record books, Galesburg now holds the national mark for 3-pointers attempted in a season with 1,382. The 365 made is the second-best total in the country and tops in the state.

Nice job, Streaks. Good luck next season, when they are expected to return 10 of their top 13 players.

A high school I hadn't checked on yet this year also had a record-breaking game earlier this week, as the Brookland (Ark.) Bearcats beat Tuckerman 117-104 Tuesday night in the 3A district tournament.

The 221 combined points set one Arkansas record, as did the 20 3-pointers made by the Bearcats (8-17), coached by "System" neophyte Derek Jacobs. Graham Agee led Brookland with 25 points and Jared Smith added 22, including seven treys.

My goal for next season is to coerce a team in North Carolina to use this style of play and see some of these totals in person!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Big night for "The System"

Thursday proved to be quite entertaining for us fans of "The System," and, really, who isn't one? Two of the college teams I follow regularly cruised to victories, including the Grinnell Pioneers coached by innovator David Arseneault.

Matt Skelly had 22 points to lead four players in double figures as Grinnell easily beat Knox College 111-87 on the road in the Midwest Conference. Matt Chalupa added 16 points and freshmen Jesse Ney and Dylan Seelman each finished with 14 for the Pioneers (7-15, 5-10 MWC), who trailed only at 2-0 in sweeping the season series from the Prairie Fire.

Knox (2-21, 2-14) closed within eight midway through the second half after two free throws from Peter Cain, capping a 12-0 run to make it 78-70. Ney made a 3-pointer to right the ship and Grinnell steadily pulled away from there. The margin grew to 25 after Skelly converted two free throws with about 3 minutes remaining in the game.

Chalupa and Seelman made four 3s apiece, part of a 19-for-53 effort for the Pioneers from beyond the arc. Post player Alex McDonald did his part, as well, despite scoring only two points. The 6-foot-4 junior from Alton, Ill., had six rebounds and five of his team's 26 steals; the Prairie Fire turned it over 37 times.

Since Grinnell won't qualify for the MWC Tournament this year, it completes its schedule Saturday at home against Monmouth College, with the tip coming around 5 p.m. I hope Coach A and his team can get one last victory this season.

Meanwhile, in West Virginia, the women's team at Glenville State College had an even easier time Thursday, blowing out Bluefield State 95-41 in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Coach Bunky Harkleroad's squad set two all-division NCAA records during a 133-72 victory over Bluefield State on Dec. 16: 3-pointers made (29) and attempted (62).

The Pioneers (14-8, 12-6 WVIAC) fell a bit short of those marks in this one, finishing 23-of-57 on 3s. Autumn Davis had five of them and scored 21 points, with Donita Adams adding 19 in only 13 minutes of run. Glenville State led 55-18 at the break and cruised from there against the Lady Blues (1-23, 1-18).

The Pioneers, who won 111-106 earlier this week at Concord University, travel to Davis & Elkins on Saturday to look for their third consecutive victory. The game is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m., and I wish them the best of luck.

Finally, one of the girls' high school teams we've regularly checked in on this season bowed out of its regional tournament Tuesday. The Galesburg (Ill.) Silver Streaks lost to 62-56 to Geneseo in the opening round to finish 17-14. I wish it could have lasted longer for coach Evan Massey and Galesburg, which set numerous state records during its first season running "The System."

The Streaks attempted and made more 3-pointers than any girls' team in state history, and attempted 71 in a single game to add another mark. They also tied another high by making 20 3s in one game. Just an incredible season for Galesburg, and I hope Coach Massey takes some comfort in how much fun his team made this season for me and so many others.

Saturday is shaping up to be a big day for the one and only style of basketball endorsed by this blog, with Grinnell, Glenville State and Olivet Nazarene all in action. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Magnificent comeback for ONU

The Tigers of Olivet Nazarene, an NAIA women's team coached by Doug Porter, had a huge win Saturday on the road against the University of St. Francis. Down 95-93 with less than 30 seconds remaining in regulation, ONU worked the ball to leading scorer Simone Coburn, who then fed Danielle Tolbert for the tying basket.

In overtime, the Tigers (11-16, 3-4 Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference) fell behind again before taking over. A 3-pointer from Lexie Heinold gave them the lead for good at 105-104 with about two and a half minutes left in the extra period -- one of four 3s made by ONU in those five minutes -- and they converted 6 of 8 at the line down the stretch to win 119-111. And, yes, nice job on the math, that's 24 points in 5 minutes of OT. Wow.

Coburn led five players in double figures with 20 points, joined by Jaimie Buckman (19 points), Heinold (18), Tolbert (16) and Holly Wiersema (10). Jacqie Storm led St. Francis (15-12, 6-2) with 27 points. The victory leaves ONU a game and a half behind third-place Indiana-South Bend in the CCAC standings with three games left, including the finale Feb. 27 at home against IU-South Bend. The Tigers have a week off before traveling next Saturday to Robert Morris, which they beat 114-86 on Jan. 23. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST.

Grinnell didn't have quite the same effort Saturday in the Midwest Conference, losing 95-77 at Illinois College, dropping the Pioneers to 6-15 overall and 4-10 in the MWC. Dylan Seelman led the way (again) with 22 points and made six 3-pointers, giving him 41 in the past five games. He was one of the few who got off to normal output as the G-Men shot only 22-of-89 for the game, 24.7 percent. That includes 14-of-66 from beyond the arc.

Coach David Arseneault, the father of "The System," takes his team on the road to Knox College on Thursday night, with the tip scheduled for 6:30 p.m. EST. Not sure if I've shared this yet, but you can watch the game live for free on the Internet. Just click here and follow the instructions. Hope it goes well for the Pioneers.

Meanwhile, the Glenville State College women's team put up some unbelievable numbers in a 99-92 loss Saturday to the University of Charleston (W.Va.). This set of Pioneers also had trouble putting the ball in the basket and shot only 24 percent for the game. Did you catch that? They scored 92 points and made less than one-fourth of their shots. How, you might ask, did they do that? BY PUTTING UP 125 SHOTS, THAT'S HOW!

This is one of those times where most of the goals of "The System" were obliterated, but the result wasn't a victory. To remind those out there not familiar with the five tenants of the greatest style of basketball known in the universe, here they are as produced by Coach A and a set of Grinnell students from back in the day:

1. Take at least 94 shots

2. Half of those shots (47) should be 3s

3. Get at least 33 percent of the misses back off the offensive glass

4. Take 25 more shots than the opponent

5. Force at least 32 turnovers

Now, some teams modify these goals, and I'm not sure what coach Bunky Harkleroad does at Glenville State, but the final stats from this game scream "System:"

1. 125 shots

2. 63 attempted 3-pointers

3. 49 offensive rebounds (52 percent)

4. 56 more shots than the University of Charleston

5. 28 turnovers forced

Only the turnover number wasn't reached, but if Coach Harkleroad's team has a normal shooting day, it wins going away. Kristen Golden led the way with 18 points for the Pioneers, with Autumn Davis adding 17 and Donita Adams and Tiffany Huffman each finishing with 16. Tough loss, which dropped Glenville State to 12-8 overall and 10-6 in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The University of Charleston improved to 15-6, 12-4.

The Pioneers travel to Concord University on Monday, with the game scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. Good luck to them.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Where have you gone, Keith Parsons ...

... a System-nation turns its lonely eyes to you? OK, maybe not a WHOLE nation, but we're seven strong in actual followers, plus a handful of others who actually look at this blog.

Long time since my last update, and we have lots to get to. We'll start with an update on the women's team at Henry Ford Community College in Deaborn, Mich., enjoying its best season in a while under the direction of coach Bob Belf. He e-mailed me, and I've reproduced it here virtually verbatim:

Coach Belf: "I wanted to give you an update of our past week. Last Wednesday (Feb. 3), we played Delta College, which was holding the fourth and final playoff spot a game ahead of us. Earlier in the year, we dropped a 20-point loss to Delta, but we had them at home and right now we are averaging 88 points at home while struggling at 68 on the road.

"From the tip, this game was played at incredible intensity and our pressure was outstanding. Neither team shot it as well as they hoped as we went 11-for-42 from the arc and they went 12-for-28 at the free throw line, but it was a GREAT game. We were unable to take care of a two-point lead at the end of regulation and Delta won this contest 82-81 in 2 OTs.

"Saturday (Feb. 6), I was very concerned that the effort we spent Wednesday would detract from the effort we needed as we faced Macomb, which was the team just below us in the standings. Our emotional effort was very good and we were hungry, as Macomb also had dropped us by 11 in our first contest. After a slow start, we ended up getting our feet under us; we ended up dominating this contest with an 88-74 win. Our pressure had them exhausted and our performance coming off the Wednesday game was very good.

"We stand now 5-7 in the league and 9-14 overall. This is the best record we have had at Henry Ford since scholarships were eliminated eight years ago. We have four to play and two are against teams we have already beaten. We may miss our state playoffs but we are head to the Regionals in the first week of March."

A huge thanks to Coach Belf for the information, and hopefully, we can pull his team through to a successful conclusion to his season.

Another coach I heard from this week was Dave Arnold, the boys' basketball coach at Whitmore Lake (Mich.) High School. The Trojans have won seven consecutive games to remain one game behind Clinton in the Tri-County Conference, including an 86-58 rout of Britton-Deerfield on Friday night. Whitmore Lake now is 11-5 and 8-2 in the conference.

Earlier this week, the Trojans avenged one of their losses from earlier in the season with a 99-88 victory over Whiteford. They took a one-point lead into the fourth quarter before leading scorer Colton Judge took over, scoring 16 of his 33 points to help Whitmore Lake pull away. He made a school-record nine 3s in the game. Coach Arnold sent me a breakdown of the performance via e-mail:

Coach Arnold: "Colton just took over the game in the fourth quarter. He had done that on a couple of occasions earlier in the year, but it couldn't have come at a better time. After the win over Clinton two weeks (which everyone should have read about on this blog), we're one game behind in the standings. We don't play Clinton until the last game of the regular season on March 2, so we're in a perpetual back-to-the-wall situation where we probably need to win out to have any chance. Whiteford was a huge hurdle for us, as we had lost six straight to them, including a 96-95 OT game last January and a 109-94 game this year before Christmas. They have three solid players and have really given us trouble in the past, in terms of being able to effectively press them. Our defense was as good as it has been all year in the first half. We had a 10-point lead and an opportunity to create a gap in the first half, but they made a run right before halftime. They were much more aggressive in the third quarter and we got back on our heels a bit. We were up one to start the fourth, and that's when Colton just took over. He has that rare ability to put a team on his back, and he's been as focused and driven the last month as I've ever seen him. Good thing, too -- we play three of our next four on the road, including the team that beat us 109-103 and the team we're currently for second with. One game at a time ..."

It was great of Coach Arnold to keep me, and us, abreast of what's going on with his squad. I wish them the best of luck down the stretch.

Meanwhile, at Grinnell, the Pioneers had their best performance of the season, at least on paper, in a 131-84 victory over Midwest Conference rival Knox on Wednesday. Dylan Seelman continued to be the man, making 11 3-pointers and finishing with 33 points. That effort gave him 35 3s in the past four games and at least eight in all of them, helpig him average 28.5 points.

Everybody got into the act against the Prairie Fire (awesome mascot!), who turned it over 38 times and allowed the Pioneers to take 98 shots. That included a 29 of 70 performance beyond the arc, one of the few times this year Grinnell has gotten off from long range.

Oh, and did I mention Seelman got his in only 16 minutes of run? Are you kidding me? No, I'm not, 16 minutes of playing time led to those 33 points, all on 11 of 18 shooting on 3-pointers. Hopefully, he can keep it going Saturay when Grinnell (6-14, 4-9 MWC) travels to Illinois College. Game time is 4 p.m. EST.

Elsewhere in System hoops this week, a couple of other college women's teams I regularly follow had tough losses. The Olivet Nazarene Univeristy Tigers coached by Doug Porter kept it close before eventually losing to Saint Xavier University 113-97 on Tuesday. Saint Xavier is ranked No. 2 in the most recent NAIA poll. Lexie Heinold led the way for ONU with 18 points and guard Jaimie Buckman added 15 points and 15 rebounds, all on the defensive end. The Tigers (11-15, 2-4 Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference) travel to the University of St. Francis on Saturday, with the game scheduled to begin at 6:15 EST.

And the Pioneers of Glenville State College, coached by Bunky Harkleroad, lost 105-86 to West Virginia State on Thursday. The Yellow Jackets broke away from a 49-49 tie at the break to win going away. Donita Adams did her thing again, leading Glenville State with 19 points. The Pioneers (12-7, 10-5 West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) host the University of Charleston on Saturday beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Finally, in high school action, the Galesburg (Ill.) Silver Streaks ended their regular season with a 97-53 loss to Western Big 6 Conference champ Moline on Thursday night. It was the most points Galesburg has given up in school history but still doesn't tarnish what coach Evan Massey has done in his first year running "The System." Last year, the Streaks finished 14-18; they take a 17-13 mark into the regionals, beginning at home Geneseo on Tuesday in the Galesburg Class 3-A Regional. Moline is ranked second in the state's Class 4-A division.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Huge win for Olivet Nazarene

The Olivet Nazarene Tigers coached by Doug Porter scored the first 13 points and never looked back, blowing out Holy Cross College 119-70 Saturday in Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference play. And, yes, I believe Holy Cross is the school where this guy went before transferring to Notre Dame.

Simone Coburn had 19 points to lead six players in double figures for ONU (10-15, 2-3 CCAC), joined by Danielle Tolbert (15 points), Holly Wiersema (14), Lexie Heinold (12), Danielle Pipal (11) and Rachel Kearney (10). The Saints (5-21, 0-8) turned it over 38 times -- 28 in the first half alone -- and spent the final 31-plus minutes down by at least 10 points. Baysia Cox scored 26 points for Holy Cross and joined teammate Tanesha Vanardo with 10 turnovers.

Not much else to say about this one. It was a rout from the get-go, something much needed for Coach Porter and his squad. The Tigers finished 46-109 from the field, including 18-of-66 on 3-pointers, and collected 31 offensive rebounds. On Tuesday, they face a much tougher opponent when they travel to league-leader St. Xavier University (23-1, 6-1), ranked No. 3 in the most recent NAIA coaches' poll. Game time is 6 p.m. EST, and I'll be rooting for ONU.

Unfortunately, Grinnell didn't have quite the same good fortune Saturday, losing 99-96 at Beloit in the Midwest Conference. Freshman Dylan Seelman continued his impressive play for the Pioneers (5-14, 3-9 MWC), making eight 3-pointers for the second consecutive game and finishing with 28 points. Matt Chalupa added 16.

The Buccaneers (7-13, 5-8) shot 74 percent for the game -- 76 percent in the second half -- and scored the final five points to win what was a close game throughout. It featured 11 ties and 14 lead changes , with David Bremmer converting one of two at the line with 35 seconds left to give Beloit the lead for good. On the other end, Matt Skelly missed a 3 with 7 seconds remaining that would have put Grinnell back in front, and Patrick Kenny added two more free throws for the final margin. Skelly was only 3-for-20 from the field and 2-for-11 from behind the line.

For those of you keeping stats, that makes opponents 83-for-107 in the past two games against the G-men, or 77.6 percent. It's a tribute to "The System" that this one was as close as it was.

The Pioneers return home to face Knox College on Wednesday, beginning at 8:30 p.m. EST. I plan to watch it all live on the Internet, assuming the connection is a bit better than Saturday's game (in a word, it sucked!). Go, Grinnell!

In high school "System" action Saturday, the Galesburg (Ill.) Silver Streaks traveled out of conference to play Winnetka New Trier, ranked eighth in the state in Class 4A, and the Streaks lost 80-66. Jessica Howard had 17 points and Sara Baker added 11 for Galesburg (17-12), which made only 4 of 23 3-pointers in the first half according The (Galesburg) Register-Mail. Coach Evan Massey's team finishes the regular season at Western Big 6 leader Moline on Thursday.

And remember that big game Liberty High School from Hillsboro, Ore., faced Friday? Well, the Falcons rallied in the fourth quarter to beat Glencoe 91-88 in the Northwest Oregon Conference. Glencoe was first among "other teams receiving votes" in the Class 5A boys coaches' poll, but Liberty scored 33 points in the final period to win at home; Joel Tokple led the way with 23 points. Nice going!

Finally, I have to give a shoutout to the Oregon State Beavers, even though their style of play is about as anti-"System" as you can get. On Saturday, they completed their first season sweep of Oregon in 17 years with a 62-42 victory at historic Gill Coliseum. Very little about the boxscore impresses me: Oregon State took 42 shots and Oregon 47 FOR THE GAME, yet somehow they combined for 35 turnovers. Still, the Beavers had 20 assists on their 21 baskets, really an amazing total. The ol' Princeton offense must have been working perfectly for coach Craig Robinson's crew. So congrats to Oregon State -- and start shooting the ball more often!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Let's talk Liberty High School Hoops ...

... and, no, I don't mean Liberty, N.C., or a prep school near Liberty University.

This is Liberty High School in Hillsboro, Ore., where Tom Marshall is in his first season running "The System." And he's not exactly what you would call an impulsive neophyte, either -- the way he figures, he's closing in on 35 years in coaching, even though "it scares me to do the math," he said with a laugh during a phone interview Friday.

Surprisingly, this is his first job at the high school level. He spent 15 years as a head coach in college, with 11 of them coming at the University of California at San Diego and four at Grand Canyon University. Marshall was a combined 248-151 at those stops and won at least 20 games during four of his final five seasons at UC San Diego.

He retired to Oregon in 1999 before he was coaxed back into the business at Liberty, which was a startup school. A longtime friend and rival of Gary Smith, the "System" guru and longtime coach at the University of the Redlands in California, Marshall decided he had the proper personnel to make the switch away from conventional basketball this season. The results have been spectacular at times, including the Oregon state record for most points in a single quarter (43), which came Dec. 21 against Springfield. The Falcons put up that total in the third quarter of a 98-66 victory, and they nearly matched it with 41 in the second quarter Jan. 29 when they beat St. Helens 83-77.

Currently, Liberty sits fifth in the eight-team Northwest Oregon Conference, with a huge game later Friday against second-place Glencoe. Coach Marshall took some time to speak to me about his conversion to the best style of basketball the world has ever seen, and some things he's learned along the way. Enjoy.

(What's it like coaching high school for the first time?)

Coach Marshall: "It's been interesting. In a lot of ways, it's back to real coaching, since you're hands-on with the guys. A lot of times at the college level, your assistant coaches are doing quite a bit of floor stuff, because you delegate some of that, but not all of it. You've got boosters to deal with, and recruiting, and there's a lot of other things that take your time away from the basketball court. At the high school level, your time is pretty much spent with the kids."

(Can you measure your success in this style, versus conventional?)

Coach Marshall: "I'm sure we've won some games that we might not have won if we played more conventionally, but there's been games we've won where we would have won with any style. We had enough athletic ability on the floor to get it done. It's a hard thing to measure. I think what you can measure is, 'Are your kids having fun? Are we a joy to our fans when they come and watch us play?' And I would give a big thumbs-up to both of those categories. We've noticed an increase in our student population coming to the games. Almost all the parents have been excited about it, telling me even when we lost how exciting we were to watch. Those are measurable things."

(What do your fellow coaches out there think?)

Coach Marshall: "I don't know if I could have a good temperature on whether they are pro or con. I know they consider us dangerous, and we are. I wouldn't want to prepare for me, I wouldn't want to prepare for this kind of team. I was talking with my coaching staff, and I honestly, I mean honestly, don't believe that an opposing team has run a set against us all year. If they did, I would be shocked, other than an out of bounds situation. Anything they've been practicing all year, I don't think they've been able to accomplish running that in a game."

(Do you believe "The System" become more widespread?)

Coach Marshall: "It's hard to say. I can certainly see why a Division I coach would never, ever go to it. It's just too big of a risk. Their whole livelihood and their assistants' livelihoods are all based on them being successful. I just can't see a D-I coach taking a chance, unless he hasn't got anything to lose and he wants to give it a shot. Maybe I'm wrong, but it would surprise me to see that."

(Do you plan to stick with it?)

Coach Marshall: "It's hard to say what the future holds for 'The System.' Gary probably even tweaked it from what Grinnell ran, and we've done the same thing. I don't run the same things that Grinnell did or what Redlands did. I'll probably stick with it next year and I'll tweak it some more. I'm losing some kids and gaining some others, so I've got make it work for them. I've got to make some changes."

I appreciate Coach Marshall taking the time to share his thoughts with me, and us. I hope he and Liberty have the best of luck the rest of the season, and I'll do my best to keep everyone updated.

Now, on to the results ...

Grinnell went on the road to Ripon College for a Midwest Conference game Friday night, and the Pioneers fell behind early on their way to a 127-107 loss. Scott Gillespie, the point guard for the Red Hawks (13-5, 7-3 MWC), finished with 37 points and 10 assists, and teammate Aris Wurtz matched the 37 points while adding 11 rebounds. Huge numbers, to be sure, but nothing close to what Ripon accomplished as a team.

In 40 minutes of college basketball, the Red Hawks shot 80.7 percent from the field, missing only 11 of 57 shots. That helped them overcome 23 turnovers and the 71 3-pointers shot by Grinnell (5-13, 3-8). Dylan Seelman led the way for coach David Arsenault's team with 24 points, all on 3s, and Matt Chalupa made four shots from beyond the arc on his way to 15 points.

The Pioneers get back at it Saturday night, again on the road, when they travel to Beloit. Go get 'em!

Coach Bunky Harkleroad and the Glenville State College women's team rolled to another easy victory, beating Ohio Valley University 126-92 on the road Thursday night. Donita Adams (who else?) led the way with 28 points, Ginnie Petties had 27 and Autumn Davis chipped in with 24 for this set of Pioneers (12-6, 10-4 West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference). All had big days while setting up downtown, with Petties connecting on seven treys and Adams and Davis each adding six. Glenville State was 26-for-63 as a team on 3s and 38-for-94 overall.

The first half was a great example of what "The System" can do to a team. Ohio Valley (4-14, 2-12) shot 59.4 percent from the field, yet trailed by 24. The Pioneers forced 24 turnovers in the opening half (18 of them on steals) and made 14 3-pointers on its way to a 68-44 lead. Again, that's all in 20 minutes.

Unfortunately, we'll have to wait until Monday for another update on Coach Harkleroad's team. The winter storm that pounded the Mid-Atlantic on Friday forced this weekend's home game against Salem International to be postponed. According to the schedule, Glenville State now plays at Washington Adventist University on Monday. Stay tuned.

Finally, a quick update on a couple of high schools I regularly follow:

The Whitmore Lake (Mich.) Trojans continued to roll, winning their fifth consecutive game with a 98-56 rout of Sand Creek on Thursday night behind Colton Judge's 30 points. The Trojans, coached by Dave Arnold, are averaging 93.8 points during the winning streak heading into Monday's game at Whiteford.

Coach Evan Massey and the Galesburg (Ill.) Silver Streaks lost a heart-breaker Thursday night, falling 64-62 to Western Big 6 foe Alleman when Paige Klinck missed a 3 just before the buzzer. Galesburg (17-11, 3-6 WB6), which was led by Jamie Johnson's 15 points and five rebounds, finishes up its schedule with two games on the road, beginning Saturday at New Trier. I hope the Streaks get going again.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

What a comeback by Olivet Nazarene!

The Olivet Nazarene Tigers, coached by "System" guru Doug Porter, lost a tough one Tuesday night at Indiana-South Bend, a Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference rival, by the score of 84-76. Those who think the final score is all that matters misses the point of athletics, of passion, of character and certainly of "The System."

The Titans (16-6, 4-2 CCAC), one of the top teams in the conference, were playing at home, where they've lost only two games this season. And for the first 25-plus minutes, they dominated play, running out to a 68-39 lead by efficiently beating the Tigers' press and denying easy baskets. Then ONU (9-15, 1-3) changed up its defense and began playing with the reckless abandon for which that this style of play is known. Somehow, some way, the margin began shrinking.

Beginning at that 29-point bulge with 14:25 remaining in the game, the Tigers took over. They were within 19 when Simone Coburn scored from in close to cap a 16-6 spurt over a span of about less than 6 minutes. Then Lexie Heinold made two 3-pointers and Laura Johnson added another to increase that run to 33-8, bringing ONU within 76-72 with just more than 4 minutes left on the clock. Later, with a chance to bring her team within two points, Rachel Kearney made one of two at the line, and that was as close as the Tigers would get.

Still, it capped an amazing stretch of basketball, something that happens very frequently in "System" basketball. In a span of slightly more than 12 minutes, ONU scored 37 points while holding Indiana-South Bend to 12, all the while pushing the pace of play and subbing in five new players every 60 seconds or so of game clock. I only wish I would have been there.

Coburn led the Tigers with 19 points while Holly Wiersma added 17 points and five of her team's 18 steals; the Titans turned it over 35 times. All in all, a pretty effort of Coach Porter and his team, which hosts Holy Cross College on Saturday. Tip is 2 p.m. EST. Good luck, ONU!

Elsewhere this week, the Pioneers at Glenville State College in West Virginia, coached by Bunky Harkleroad, easily dispatched of Davis & Elkins 102-81 Monday night in West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play. Donita Adams had 25 points and Kristen Golden 22 for Glenville State (10-6, 8-4 WVIAC), which traveled to Ohio Valley on Thursday night.

Against the Senators (great mascot!), the Pioneers put up some spectacular numbers: 100 shot attempts, with 40 from beyond the arc, and 37 offensive rebounds. Yep, that's correct, 37!
Davis & Elkins finished with 28 turnovers, as well. Congrats to Coach Harkleroad and his team.

And finally, the Whitmore Lake (Michigan) HS Trojans stayed on a roll, beating Greenhills 80-39 on Tuesday night. Coach Dave Arnold's squad put up only seven of those points in the fourth quarter as Greenhills decided to hold the ball while down 40. So, yes, again, to do the simple math for you, that means the Trojans scored 73 points in three quarters. Wow. Remember, this is high school basketball, so that's only 24 minutes.

Whitemore Lake also played Thursday night, hosting Sand Creek. Hopefully, I'll update you with a fifth consecutive victory.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Grinnell bounces back in a big way

Sure, it was out of the Midwest Conference, but my Grinnell Pioneers put up some numbers to which they are accustomed in a 121-98 victory over Fontbonne University on Sunday. Dylan Seelman (29 points) and Matt Skelly (28) led the way and made 12 of Grinnell's 18 3-pointers, while Matt Chalupa added 12 points and freshman Dominique Bellamy had 11.

The Pioneers (5-12) finished 33-of-93 from the field, including 18-of-62 on 3s, and forced 32 turnovers. Alex McDonald had four of Grinnell's 17 steals.

And as "The System" often does, the final 4 minutes or so of the first half saw a flurry of points to allow the Pioneers to pull away. Chris Forrest made a layup to bring Fontbonne (6-13) within 38-31 with 4:12 remaining in the opening 20 minutes before it fell apart for the school from St. Louis. First, Garrett Nitz was fouled on a 3-pointer and converted all three free throws before John Bruns added 3s on consecutive possessions to start the game-changing spurt. When it was over, topped off nicely by a trey shortly before the buzzer by Skelly, Grinnell had scored 26 points in that span to lead 64-48. Simply amazing.

The margin reached 25 on another 3-pointer by Skelly late in the second half. Glad to see coach David Arsenault and his squad rewarded for their effort this season.

They are off until a MWC weekend trip to Wisconsin, where they play Ripon on Friday night and follow up with a visit to Beloit on Saturday. As always, good luck to them.