Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A wonderful day for Galesburg HS

Where to start? The girls' team at Galesburg (Ill.) HS had a record-setting day on Day 2 of a Christmas tournament in Charleston, Ill., putting up numbers that even I, a devoted a follower of the Streaks and The System, have a difficult time believing.

Galesburg again had a doubleheader, an amazing phenomenon in and of itself, and coach Evan Massey's team took care of business. In the morning, the Streaks made an Illinois record 21 3-pointers in a 88-57 victory over Paris, with Jessica Lieber and Jessica Howard making six apiece. Jamie Johnson and Mickey Rodriguez added three each, Allison Mangieri had two and Tai Peachey connected on one.

And before we go any further, here are The Goals from the opener:

- Attempted 70 shots (goal is 72)
- Attemtped 58 3-pointers (goal is 36)
- Rebounded 44 percent of the misses on offense (goal is 40 percent)
- Forced 32 turnovers (goal is 26)
- Attempted 14 more shots than Paris (goal is 20)

Peachey added seven assists and five of Galesburg's 26 steals, and Sadee Hamilton finished with five steals, as well. Where to go for an encore?

Well, the Streaks tied their hours-old mark of 21 3-pointers and gained a new record for attempts with 72 in a 75-33 victory over Rantoul later in the day. Yep, you read that correctly. A total of 42 treys in consecutive games for Galesburg, and three state records. And, of course, the 72 attempts breaks a number set last season by the very same team. Wow, right?

With the score out of hand (it was 51-14 at one point), Coach Massey pulled off the full-court pressure for the final three quarters. Here are The Goals:

- Attempted 82 shots (goal is 72)
- Attempted 72 3-pointers (goal is 36)
- Rebounded 42 percent of the misses on offense (goal is 40 percent)
- Forced 24 turnovers
- Attempted 22 more shots than Rantoul (goal is 20)

Hamilton had seven rebounds in the nightcap, and Peachey dropped seven dimes. Nice.

The Streaks (13-2), who have won eight consecutive games and 12 of their past 13, move on to the championship game, where they will face the Wooden Shoes of Teutopolis (I am not making that up). Game time is set for 8 p.m. EST. The best of luck to Coach Massey and his team.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, the boys' team at Eisenhower HS in Blue Island, Ill., lost its tournament opener in Milwaukee by the score of 79-77. I wasn't able to find the opponent, but coach Mike Curta sent along The Formula stats:

- Attempted 55 shots (goal is 80)
- Attempted 56 percent of its shots on 3-pointers (goal is 40 percent)
- Rebounded 44 percent of the misses on offense (goal is 35 percent)
- Forced 11 turnovers (goal is 26)
- Attempted the same number of shots as the opponent (goal is 24 more)

Tough night for Coach Curta. The Cardinals (7-8) get a quick chance to get back on the winning track in the consolation game Wednesday. Check back for an update.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The best (and only) Christmas present I can give each of you

And, no, it isn't that I'm ceasing and desisting from this blog. Nope, I'm finally back with another update, nearly two weeks since I last hit you up with news of my favorite hoops teams in the world. I've been dealing with a kidney stone -- and will be for at least a few more days -- and as many people who have experienced this type of ailment have told me, it ain't been fun.

Enough about me. Merry Christmas to everyone out there and thanks for checking back in. I've got a lot to get to, so the game updates likely won't be as long as normal, but I wanted to get everyone caught up as we head toward the New Year.

Let's start with Olivet Nazarene, ranked 25th in the NAIA women's poll and coming off perhaps its most impressive pair of victories of the season. Out in Hawaii for the Hoop N Surf Classic, the Tigers dismanted both the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (117-88) and Morningside College (113-67). Morningside is ranked No. 3 in the NAIA Division II poll and has been good for years; coach Jamie Sale has led the Mustangs to three national championships, including consecutive ones in 2004-05 and then again in 2009.

Wow, right? Huge victory for coach Doug Porter and ONU. As most of you know, the Tigers had been struggling somewhat this season from behind the 3-point line, but Lexie Heinold finally might have broken that drought for good with her performance against Morningside. The 5-foot-7 junior from Washington, Ill., finished 9-of-13 on 3s in that one and finished with 27 points, while Liz Bart (3-for-4), Miranda Geever (3-for-6), Stephanie Denius (3-for-10) and Jaimie Buckman (3-for-11) each made at least three treys.

Overall, ONU was 24-for-58 beyond the arc, its best effort of the season.

Hopefully, the pair of Ws in the islands helped take the sting off one of the Tigers' few losses lately. They lost to Wisconsin-Parkside 102-79 just before heading to Hawaii, so it was nice to see them bounce back in fine fashion. Headed into the break, ONU is 11-4, with five victories in its past six games.

Next up on the schedule is a home matchup with Lindenwood University-Belleville on Jan. 8, with game time set for 3 p.m. EST.

Also in college women's action, the NCAA Division II Glenville State Pioneers continued to roll for coach Bunky Harkleroad, winning their final game before the Holiday Break 130-95 over West Virginia State on Dec. 18 in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Glenville State also was solid on 3s, going 22-for-44 against the Yellow Jackets (3-8, 1-4 WVIAC).

Autumn Davis made seven of those and finished with 21 points, and conference player of the week Tenisha Wilson led the way with 27 points, six rebounds, three assists (no turnovers) and five steals.

The Pioneers (8-3, 6-0) remains one of three unbeaten teams in the conference and have at least two more victories than either of the others. They are averaging 116.6 points during their five-game winning streak, and they are off until traveling to WVIAC foe Shepherd on Jan. 8. Tip is scheduled for 6 p.m. EST.

The Galesburg (Ill.) HS Silver Streaks continue to, well, streak as they head into a Christmas tournament next week in Charleston, Ill., with three of the four games played at Eastern Illinois University. Galesburg won three more games during my little hiatus, capped by Jessica Howard's school-record performance in an 83-61 road victory over Washington on Dec. 21.

The senior guard made 11 3-pointers (yes, you read that correctly) and scored 37 points. Her long-range effort came up one short of tying the state record, but still led to the home crowd at Washington cheering for her when she made her final shot, as coach Evan Massey pointed out on his blog.

The Streaks traveled to Chicago to upset Maine South 67-60 on Dec. 18 and added a Western Big 6 Conference victory over Alleman by the score of 68-38 on Dec. 16. That leaves Galesburg at 10-3 heading into the tournament this coming week, which begins Monday at noon EST against Effingham. There will be four games in three days, including one at 9:30 a.m. EST on Tuesday. Ouch.

The boys' team at Eishenhower HS in Blue Island, Ill., recently completed a stretch of six games in seven days, which is unheard of even for an NBA team. And the Cardinals, coached by first-year System user Mike Curta, have another Holiday tournament coming up this week. Amazing.

Eisenhower won four of the six games to improve its record to 7-7, and I can tell from our e-mail exchanges that Coach Curta feels his team is starting to turn the corner with this new style. Here is a breakdown, in chronological order, of how his week progressed, along with any highlights gleamed from his notes:

Friday, Dec. 17 - An 89-65 victory over conference opponent Oak Forest. First time his team was far enough ahead that Coach Curta felt he had to "call off the dogs" a bit down the stretch.

Saturday, Dec. 18 - A 102-86 victory over Chicago Perspectives, in a jamboree type setting at Moraine Valley Community College. Eisenhower led 58-39 at the half in what Coach Curta called its best two quarters of play this season.

Monday, Dec. 19 - An 81-73 loss to Aurora Central Catholic in the Waubonsie Valley HS tournament. The Cardinals finished with only 79 shots, the first time this season they have failed to reach The Formula goal of 80.

Tuesday, Dec. 21 - A 94-93 victory over Glenbard North in the Waubonsie Valley HS tournament. Junior Dustan Lewis made two free throws with 4 seconds left to secure the victory for Eisenhower.

Wednesday, Dec. 22 - A 96-77 loss to the host school in the Waubonsie Valley HS tournament. The Cardinals forced 15 turnovers in the first quarter but struggled shooting, and Coach Curta believes this allowed the overall effort to deflate a bit.

Thursday, Dec. 23 - A 106-65 victory over Immaculate Conception (no, not this). With the game a bit out of hand, Coach Curta allowed a special-needs player to stay in for the entire fourth quarter. Here's his report on that: "He must have taken 12-15 shots as our kids do a great job of screening and trying to get him a basket when he is in the game. He ended up with four points and again it was like we won the lottery with all of the cheering for him. Really neat that our kids look to do that for him. I know that it will make his Christmas that much nicer being able to share his experience with his family."

On top of that, as Coach Curta was leaving the gym, a random fan stopped him to say: "You guys sure do give me my $4 worth!" What a way to cap the tournament.

Eisenhower plays in its second Christmas tournament beginning Tuesday, with another game the following day.

At Monroe (Mich.) HS, the boys' team coached by Dave Arnold completed its pre-Christmas schedule with a 2-1 record, with an 84-76 victory over Fordson and a 72-52 loss to Roosevelt. Coach Arnold and his team are back in action Jan. 4 at Rogers, and I hope they got in some good work over the break.

Coach Glen Irvin and the girls' team at Wabasha-Kellogg HS in Minnesota lost a couple of games in their final week before the Holiday. Caledonia beat the Falcons 77-45 and Dover Eyota won 90-73; however, in the second loss, W-K met four of the give goals, with 100 shots attempted, 47 3-pointers attempted, 40 percent offensive rebounding totals and 22 more shots than Dover Eyota.

Best of luck to Coach Irvin and his team when they get back at it.

The women's team at Jackson (Mich.) Community College won its fourth consecutive game, beating Lakeland (Ohio) Community College 89-86 on Dec. 21. DaJana’e Wilson hit a pair of free throws with 50 seconds to play to give the the Jets (5-7) the lead for good, despite making only 28 of 118 shots from the field, including 11-for-55 on 3-pointers. They had scored at least 100 points in five games in a row, but I'm sure coach Andy Hoaglin will take the W.

In the game before that one, Jackson CC beat Edison State 106-100, avenging that loss from a couple of weeks prior that proved to be the highest-scoring game in the history of Division II of the National Junior College Athletic Association. Remember that one? It was 133-131 in double overtime.

he Jets are off until Jan. 5, when they open conference play at Muskegon Community College.

Finally, the girls' team at North Shore HS in Glen Head, N.Y., went into its break on a winning note, winning its first conference game 60-39 on the road at Manhasset. The best I can tell, the Vikings travel to West Hempstead on Jan. 4 for their next game. I'll keep you up to date.

Whew, that should about cover all I can think I owed you. Merry Christmas to everyone, and please check back soon for an update.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Great effort by newly ranked ONU

The latest NAIA coaches' Top 25 for Division I women came out Monday, and what do you know? The Olivet Nazarene Tigers, coached by System guru Doug Porter, entered it at No. 25, their first ranking of the season. They found a perfect way to celebrate later in the day, too, even if might not have been their prettiest effort of the season.

ONU took on the Illinois Wesleyan Titans, who are ranked 13th in the latest NCAA Division III women's poll at d3hoops.com. The Tigers controlled the majority of the game, and in fact, the only tie came when Illinois Wesleyan's Olivia Lett tipped in a miss with 37 seconds left to make it 95-95 and force overtime.

In the extra period, ONU's Taylor Haymes and Jaimie Buckman made 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to give their team the lead for good, and the Tigers did just enough at the free throw line down the stretch to win 110-106. Danielle Tolbert had 23 points, five assists and four steals to lead ONU (9-3), and Simone Coburn added 20 points and five rebounds, all offensive.

Yes, many others chipped in, too: Danielle Pipal got 12 points, five assists, seven steals and four rebounds, and Tolbert, Holly Schacht and Denita Phelps each finished with four steals. The Tigers forced an incredible 52 turnovers (34 steals!) to overcome some nice shooting by the Titans; they made 63 percent in the second half and 50 percent for the game, but the turnovers led to a shot advantage of 28 for ONU. That was the difference.

Before I forget, here are your Formula goals:

- Attempted 107 shots
- Attempted 39 3-pointers (this was down a bit)
- Rebounded 30 percent of the misses on offense
- Forced 52 turnovers, as previously discussed
- Attempted 28 more shots than Illinois Wesleyan, also as previously discussed

Give the Titans credit, however. They trailed by 13 at halftime before scoring the first 11 points of the second half to get back in the game, then rallied from six down in the final 2:19 of regulation to tie it up. Even when ONU jumped to the early edge in OT, Illinois Wesleyan wasn't done, cutting was eventually was a seven-point deficit down to one with 35 seconds remaining.

Schacht then made 1-of-2 at the line, and Coburn rebounded the miss before adding a pair of free throws herself for the final margin.

I don't think pointing out how wonderfully inclusive The System is ever will get old. ONU had 72 points from the reserves, leaving 38 for the starts, but of course, 16 players got in the game. And 14 of those played at least 12 minutes, with Schacht and Buckman getting most at 17.

The Titans went 10-deep, but four of their starters played at least 30 minutes. Those four players -- Nikki Preston, Olivia Lett, Hope Schulte and Stacey Arlis -- combined for 72 points, 40 rebounds, 18 assists and 29 turnovers. Arlis had 26 points to lead the way.

Now, after a 4-1 homestand, Coach Porter and his team go back on the road, with a trip Wednesday to Wisconsin-Parkside before a longer excursion to Hawaii for the Hoop N Surf Classic. Play starts there Saturday with a matchup against the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and concludes Monday against Morningside College.

Best of luck to the Tigers, and you can check back here for updates.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Galesburg wins twice in one day; ONU, Glenville State roll on as well

Chicago Cubs Hall of Famer Ernie Banks would be proud of the girls' basketball team at Galesburg (Ill.) HS - the unranked Streaks not only played two games in a single day, they won both against teams in the top five of the Peoria (Ill.) Journal-Star poll.

On Saturday morning, Galesburg used a school-record nine 3-pointers from Jessica Howard to beat short-handed No. 5 Peoria Central 82-60, then continued the strong play a couple of hours later with a 73-60 victory over No. 3 Peoria Notre Dame. Pretty sweet, right?

The Streaks (7-3) went to their delay game late in both games, keeping The Formula numbers a bit down, so here they are:

Against Peoria Notre Dame:

- Attempted 60 shots (goal is 72)
- Attempted 41 3-pointers (goal is 36)
- Rebounded 26 percent of the misses on offense (goal is 40 percent)
- Forced 36 turnovers (goal is 26)
- Attempted five FEWER shots than Notre Dame (goal is 20 more)

Against Peoria Central:

- Attempted 65 shots (goal is 72)
- Attempted 52 3-pointers (goal is 36)
- Rebounded 21 percent of the misses on offense (goal is 40)
- Forced 33 turnovers (goal is 26)
- Attempted five FEWER shots than Central (goal is 20 more)

As I said, Howard did most of the damage from long range, adding six 3s in the nightcap after the record-setting nine earlier, and finished the day with 49 points (31 against Central, 18 against Notre Dame). Central was down to only seven players since several were taking the ACT, so the result of this game is somewhat misleading.

What isn't misleading is the defensive pressure the Streaks are creating without fouling, something coach Evan Massey noted in the game story from The Galesburg Register-Mail.

“Today was a big day for us,” he told the paper. “I’m really happy with our defensive effort lately. We have been able to pressure without fouling. You look at where we were a year ago in that area, it’s night and day.”

Of course, The System wouldn't be The System without help from the entire roster, as Coach Massey included on his blog. In the victory over Central, Paige Klinck was 4-for-7 from behind the line as Galesburg finished 19-for-52 as a team. Six different players made 3-pointers.

Other individuals standing out during the day:

- Jamie Johnson grabbed 10 rebounds in each game and finished with four steals and four assists against Notre Dame

- Sadee Hamilton added seven rebounds in each and made all four of her free throws against Notre Dame

- Point guard Tai Peachey came up huge, with eight assists and seven steals against Central, then adding five assists and an 8-of-11 performance at the free throw line against Notre Dame

- Baylie Boyer totaled five assists in each game

All in all, a wonderful day for one of my favorite teams. Galesburg is off until Thursday, when it returns to Western Big 6 conference play against Alleman. Game time is scheduled for 8 p.m. EST.

Elsewhere on Saturday, the NAIA women's team at Olivet Nazarene sprinted away from a close game in the first half and blew away Hannibal-LaGrange 105-57 with a dominant final 22 minutes.

How dominant? Well, the Tigers led only 38-36 with 1:41 left in the first half, so you don't have to be my brother do that math. Even I can do it. That's 67-21 for the remainder of the game; System coaches often talk about opponents hitting that meltdown stage, and it appears this is exactly what happened to the Trojans.

Nine unanswered points in the final 79 seconds of the opening half gave ONU a 47-36 lead, and the second half got worse quickly. A 26-9 run in the opening 7 minutes boosted the margin to 28, and the spurt stretched to 49-15 when a tip-in from Danielle Tolbert gave the Tigers a 96-51 lead.

One reason could have been fatigue. Hannibal-LaGrange used its top three players for well over 30 minutes apiece, and against the wave-upon-wave of players ONU coach Doug Porter sent to the court, it wasn't enough. This included 15 players getting at least 10 minutes of time, simply astounding. Here are your Stats for the Tigers (8-3):

- Attempted 96 shots
- Attempted 49 3-pointers
- Rebounded 55 percent of the misses on offense
- Forced 46 turnovers
- Attempted 31 more shots than the Trojans

Five players reached double figures for ONU, with Simone Coburn leading the way with 18 points. Stephanie Denius (16 points), Jaimie Buckman (12), Taylor Haymes (12) and Tolbert (10) also got there, and Haymes, Buckman and Denius each made four 3s.

Point guard Danielle Pipal ran things with her usual efficiency, finishing with four assists, six rebounds and three steals while taking only two shots. Lisa Beyer scored only two points but added a team-high five steals, four assists and five rebounds, all on the offensive end.

Great game for Coach Porter and his team, and they return to action Monday night against Illinois Wesleyan. Tip is scheduled for 6 p.m. EST, and I wish them luck.

At Glenville State, coach Bunky Harkleroad and his NCAA Division II women's team continued to roll with a 118-81 victory over Wheeling Jesuit in West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference action Saturday. The Pioneers now have one four consecutive games, all in the conference, while averaging 113.3 points in that span.

Glenville State actually fell behind at the start when the Cardinals opened the game with a 9-2 run, but it quickly turned in favor of the home team. A layup from Kenyell Goodson completed a 25-8 spurt to give the Pioneers a 10-point lead, and the margin grew steadily from there. The score was 66-41 at the break and the spread never was less than 23 points the rest of the way.

Here is The Formula:

- Attempted 101 shots
- Attempted 44 3-pointers
- Rebounded 44 percent of the misses on offense
- Forced 26 turnovers
- Attempted 23 more shots than Wheeling Jesuit

Another balanced scoring day for Glenville State (7-3, 5-0 WVIAC), with six players reaching double figures. Tenisha Wilson had 20 points, Kim Stephens got 18 (all on 3-pointers), Goodson finished with 15, Mishae Miles scored 14, Autumn Davis added 13 and Danielle Woodmore totaled 10.

Other contributions came from, well, most everybody else, with 11 players getting at least 11 minutes of run and no one getting more than Woodmore's 22. Kristen Golden went for eight points, eight rebounds and five assists (with no turnovers), Beth Deren had eight points, six rebounds, two assists (no turnovers) and four steals. It was, again, a total team effort to keep the Pioneers one of only three teams undefeated in the WVIAC.

They have a week off before finishing up the pre-Christmas portion of the schedule next Saturday at home against conference foe West Virginia State. Game time is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. EST, and I'll be rooting for Coach Harkleroad's squad.

The NCAA Division III men's team at Grinnell, coached by System creator David Arseneault, didn't fare quite so well Saturday. Carroll used a 9-0 run midway through the second half to take control of a tight game and held on to beat this set of Pioneers 109-99 in the Midwest Conference.

Grinnell trailed only 75-73 when Carroll scored those nine consecutive points to make the margin 11 points, and it never got less than seven the rest of the way. Here are The Stats for Grinnell (6-3, 1-3 MWC):

- Attempted 85 shots (goal is 94)
- Attempted 55 3-pointers (goal is 47)
- Rebounded 30 percent of the misses on offense (goal is 33 percent)
- Forced 22 turnovers (goal is 32)
- Attempted 11 more shots than Carroll (goal is 25)

So you can see Grinnell reached only one of its goals, and making only 15 of those 3s didn't add up to a victory for Coach A and his team. Matt Skelly led the way with 19 points (in a season-high 22 minutes of playing time), Griffin Lentsch added 17 despite going 1-for-10 from beyond the arc, Patrick Maher got 11 points and Aaron Levin scored 10.

Grinnell won't play again until after the Christmas break, returning to action Jan. 5 against Beloit in the friendly confines of Darby Gymnasium. Game time for that one is 8 p.m. EST, and I wish Coach A and everyone at Grinnell a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

In high school System play Friday, frequent Blog interviewee coach Dave Arnold opened a new season at a new school with a W, as his Monroe (Mich.) HS boys' team rallied to beat Anderson 90-87. You can expect some first-game jitters, and that's exactly what happened to Coach Arnold's Trojans, who trailed 41-31 at halftime after making 5-for-34 on 3-pointers in the first two quarters.

Monroe got it going after the break, scoring 59 points over the final 16 minutes to win the game. Coach Arnold reported via e-mail that his team was 12-for-32 from downtown following halftime as the players became more comfortable.

"We didn't always play well, but we played really hard and battled back from 15 down, which is a great accomplishment for this group," he wrote in an e-mail to me. "Hopefully we can build on this as we have games Tuesday and Thursday next week to finish our short 'pre-season' schedule before the holiday break."

The Trojans finished 32-for-87 from the field, including 17-for-66 on 3s, and won despite making only 9-of-21 at the line. You have to love the balance, as 11 different players scored and eight different players made a 3. Tedd March led the way with 15 points (all on 3s), with Robert Burris, Brandon Bagley and Blaine Whitlow each adding 14 points. Bagley had three 3s.

Great effort for Coach Arnold and Monroe. They hit the road for both games this week, traveling to Fordson on Tuesday and to Roosevelt on Thursday. The best of luck to this group.

Finally, the Eisenhower HS boys' team from Blue Island, Ill., snapped a three-game losing streak by beating Lemont HS 81-69 Friday night. Coach Mike Curta didn't have the complete numbers, since his statistician took the book home, but he did report the Cardinals made 14 3-pointers in the game and forced 18 turnovers in the first half alone.

Glad to see Eisenhower got back on track in this one. The Cardinals return to the court next Friday at home against Oak Forest, and I hope Coach Curta's team can get on a roll before Christmas.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Grinnell hangs on to beat Knox, ONU and Glenville State also win

It might not have been pretty, and The Formula stats likely went awry, but the NCAA Division III men's basketball team at Grinnell pulled out a gritty victory Wednesday night by beating Knox 132-120 in the Midwest Conference.

The Pioneers (6-2, 1-2 MWC) never gave up the lead (there were three ties early in the first half) and led by as much as 22 in the second half. Yet, according to System guru Bob Belf, who watched the game online, the Prairie Fire (1-5, 0-3) went to a 1-3-1 zone at that point to slow down Grinnell a bit.

The margin dwindled a bit at a time, getting as low as nine at 101-92 with 5:33 remaining in the game. But Tanner Carlson missed a free throw for Knox before Jesse Ney made a 3 on the other end, boosting the lead back to 104-92. The spread never was less than 10 the rest of the way, thanks mostly to the Pioneers converting just enough at the free throw line.

In the final 4:27, Grinnell was 22-for-31 at the line to overcome six 3-pointers by the Prairie Fire in that span, including one that turned into a four-point play for Ben Wetherbee. Still, it was enough to give coach David Arseneault and the Pioneers their first conference W of the season.

Here are the stats:

- Attempted 84 shots (goal is 94)
- Attempted 57 3-pointers (goal is 47)
- Rebounded 52 percent of the misses on offense (goal is 33 percent)
- Forced 28 turnovers (goal is 32)
- Attempted 16 more shots than Knox (goal is 25)

Griffin Lentsch continued his strong play, finishing with 29 points in only 12 minutes of playing time. Matt Chalupa added 20, Ney had 17 and Matt Skelly scored 15 for Grinnell, but the most interesting box score line to me came from one Brian McManamy, a sophomore post player from Charlotte, N.C. He didn't take a shot, made all eight of his free throws, grabbed four rebounds and dished out six assists with no turnovers. Pretty special effort.

Others chipped in, as well, with 17 players getting on the court. Marques Valdez eight points, five rebounds (four on offense), two assists, one block and five steals. Patrick Maher had four steals.

All in all, a productive night for the Pioneers, who return to the court Saturday on the road at MWC foe Carroll, their final game before Christmas break. Game time is 2 p.m. EST, and I will have an update later that day.

We had a handful of System teams in action Tuesday night, starting with the NAIA women's team at Olivet Nazarene. The Tigers beat Purdue University-Calumet 100-94 at McHie Arena, using 15 points from Simone Coburn and 14 from Jaimie Buckman to overcome a late deficit.

ONU led throughout most of the game until a surge from the Peregrines (what?!) gave them the lead. A 3 from Purdue-Calumet's Jennifer Britton tied it up at 92 with 3:04 remaining before teammate MeMe Harris made a pair of free throws, and suddenly, the Tigers trailed.

Not to worry. They stuck with the plan and scored the final eight points of the game, improving to 7-3. Here are the numbers:

- Attempted 116 shots (wow!)
- Attempted 57 3-pointers
- Rebounded 44 percent of the misses on offense
- Forced 30 turnovers
- Attempted 32 more shots than the Peregrines

Holly Schacht added 13 points, Rachel Kearney had 12 and Miranda Geever scored 10 for ONU, which stays home to face Hannibal-LaGrange University on Saturday. Tip is scheduled for 2 p.m. EST, and I wish coach Doug Porter and his team the best of luck.

The NCAA Division II women's team at Glenville State also had a thrilling conclusion to its game Tuesday, trailing by one with about 90 seconds remaining before coming back for a 106-99 victory over Concord Univeristy in West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play.

Danielle Woodmore gave the Pioneers (6-3, 4-0 WVIAC) the lead for good with a three-point play to make it 100-98, then Miranda Reed converted two free throws for a four-point advantage. That was all coach Bunky Harkleroad's team needed as it held on down the stretch to remain one of three unbeaten teams at the top of the conference standings.

Here is your Formula stuff:

- Attempted 104 shots
- Attempted 40 3-pointers
- Rebounded 51 percent of the misses on offense
- Forced 18 turnovers
- Attempted 16 more shots than the Mountain Lions

Tenisha Wilson had 26 points, Woodmore scored 20 , Autumn Davis added 12 and Kristen Golden finished with 11 for Glenville State, which remains at home for matchup with Wheeling Jesuit on Saturday. Game time for that one is 5:30 p.m. EST, so check back in for the results.

Congratulations to coach Keith Freund and the North Shore High School girls' team from Glen Head, N.Y., which won its opener 63-50 over Wantagh on Tuesday. According to Coach Freund, Wantagh was ranked fifth in the preseason Nassau County poll. Nice going.

Here are the numbers for the Vikings:

- Attempted 80 shots (goal is 80)
- Attempted 29 3-pointers (goal is 40)
- Rebounded 55 percent of the misses on offense (goal is 40 percent)
- Forced 41 turnvoers (goal is 32)
- Attempted 27 more shots than the Warriors

Coach Freund and his team go at it again Thursday. The best of luck to them.

At Wabasha-Kellogg HS in Minnesota, coach Glen Irvin and the Falcons lost 69-50 to St. Charles despite continuing to put up some numbers. Nicole Alexander had 17 points and Emily Huth added 14 for Wabasha-Kellogg (0-3). Here are The Formula things:

- Attempted 87 shots (goal is 80)
- Attempted 28 3-pointers (goal is 40)
- Rebounded 26 percent of the misses on offense (goal is 40 percent)
- Forced 33 turnovers (goal is 33)
- Attempted 27 more shots than St. Charles (goal is 15)

If the Falcons (0-3) stick to the plan, I have no doubt they will turn this around. The effort clearly is there. They play again Saturday, at home, against Lake City, and I hope they have nothing but success.

Finally, the boys' team at Eisenhower HS in Blue Island, Ill., dropped its third consecutive game by the score of 93-81 to unbeaten Tinley Park. Cardinals coach Mike Curta was without two of his best players - Dustin Lewis (IHSA rules violation) and A.J. Bridges (discipline) - and still led at the break 43-42.

The third quarter was a different story, as Tinley Park (5-0, 2-0 Suburban South Red) outscored Eisenhower 29-15 to take a commanding lead, one it didn't relinquish. The numbers for the good guys:

- Attempted 85 shots (goal is 80)
- Attempted 49 3-pointers (goal is 32)
- Rebounded 34 percent of the misses on offense (goal is 35 percent)
- Forced 30 turnovers (goal is 26)
- Attempted 15 more shots than the Titans (goal is 24)

Tyrone Terrell had 28 points for the Cardinals (2-5, 0-2), including a 7 of 22 performance on 3-pointers, Isaac Bronaugh had 13 points and Olajuwon Prude added 10.

Here is what Coach Curta had to say in a post on the Yahoo! message board:

Coach Curta: "Saw some things from the opposition that gave me the idea that we are close: twice they had kids on the floor call timeout on their own due to fatigue. Coaches and players were yelling at each other to 'slow down' while playing at our pace the whole game."

Eisenhower gets another chance Friday night, on the road at Lemont. You know I'll have an update over the weekend.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Record-setting night for Grinnell

Fresh off two consecutive losses, Grinnell made the most out of its final out-of-conference game of the season, scoring a school-record 94 points in the first half on its way to a 150-90 victory over Principia College on Monday night. The Pioneers play their final 16 games against opponents from the Midwest Conference, beginning Wednesday night at home against Knox College.

Griffin Lentsch had another big outing, making 10 3-pointers and scoring 36 points, while Scott Kaitz had 13 assists. Grinnell (5-2) led 94-50 at the break, with its point total breaking the previous mark of 88, accomplished three times and most recently Nov. 23 against Faith Baptist.

The Pioneers led 73-44 with 3:13 left in the first 20 minutes before they closed on a 21-6 run. Matt Chalupa had a pair of 3s, Aaron Levin, Xander Strek and Jesse Ney each added one of their own, Lentsch got inside for a dunk, Matt Skelly made two free throws and Kaitz finished the half with a jumper right before the buzzer. Really, the outcome was all that was in doubt at that point.

Levin finished with 19 points, joined in double figures by Chalupa (15), Strek (11), Skelly (11) and Jack Adams (10), and Marques Valdez had a team-high four steals. Lentsch and Skelly got 15 minutes of playing time apiece, with 17 others getting on the court.

Here are The Formula stats:

- Attempted 103 shots (goal is 94)
- Attempted 71 3-pointers (goal is 47)
- Rebounded 54 percent of the misses on offense (goal is 33 percent)
- Forced 32 turnovers (goal is 32)
- Attempted 26 more shots than the Panthers (goal is 25)

That's 5-for-5 in goals for Grinnell, which almost always leads to victory. The 150 points is the most it has scored since it reached 163 in a victory over Fontbonne in the 2008-09 season. Hopefully, we haven't seen the last of this type of scoring.

Todd Zimmerman had 19 points for Principia (2-4).

As I said, the Pioneers stay at home to face MWC foe Knox on Wednesday night, with the opening tip scheduled for 8 p.m. EST. The best of luck to coach David Arseneault and his team.

Also Monday, a high school boys' team debuted with The System in fine fashion, as coach Chris Schultz and Deaborn (Mich.) Advanced Technology Academy beat Huron Valley Lutheran 71-36. Coach Schultz reports the amount of enthusiasm on the bench was the most he'd seen from his players. Good stuff.

Here are the numbers:

- Attempted 87 shots (goal is 80)
- Attempted 39 3-pointers (goal is 40)
- Rebounded 60 percent of the misses on offense (goal is 40 percent
- Forced 21 turnovers (goal is 26)
- Attempted 52 more shots than Huron Valley Lutheran

Obviously, the offensive rebounding tells the story. Nice effort for Coach Schultz's team in its first outing; the next one comes Wednesday. I plan to check back in with this team.

Tuesday figures to be a busy day for The System, with the NCAA Division II women's team at Glenville State and the NAIA women's team at Olivet Nazarene back in action, along with a host of high schools. I'm rooting for all of them!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Nice W for Glenville State, ONU nearly upsets No. 1, plus even more

For the first time this season, the NCAA Division II women's team at Glenville State played a regular season game in front of its home fans. The Pioneers didn't disappoint, beating Pitt-Johnsontown 111-96 Saturday in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

Plenty of good stuff here. Six players reached double figures for coach Bunky Harkleroad's team, with Tenisha Wilson, Miranda Reed and Beth Deren all finishing with 17 points. Danielle Woodmore had 16, Kristen Golden went for 13 and Kenyell Goodson added 10 for Glenville State (5-3, 3-0 WVIAC).

Reed and Woodmore, who shared time at point guard during my visit to watch them play at Bluefield State, opened together in the starting lineup and, while not quite as dominant as they were against the Lady Blues, still put up some solid stats. They combined for 11 assists and five steals, and Wilson had a team-high eight rebounds. Deren tied Reed's high with three steals.

Here are The Formula things:

- Attempted 96 shots
- Attempted 36 3-pointers
- Rebounded 48 percent of the misses on offense
- Forced 27 turnovers
- Attempted 10 more shots than Pitt-Johnstown

This pretty much was the Pioneers' game from the get-go, with the Lady Cats leading only at 8-7. The lead at the break was 55-41 for Glenville State and the margin grew to as much as 18 points in the second half. Nice effort for Coach Harkleroad and his team. They remain one of three teams unbeaten in the conference, along with West Virginia Wesleyan and West Liberty.

The Pioneers continue their four-game home stand Tuesday with a visit from WVIAC foe Concord, with game time 5:30 p.m. EST. Good luck to them.

On the second day of the Holiday Inn Express CCAC Challenge, the Olivet Nazarene women's team had an impressive outing Saturday, even if it came in a 96-88 loss to Union, the No. 1 team in the NAIA coaches' poll and the two-time defending national champ.

A 12-2 run midway through the first half gave the Tigers (6-3) a 32-15 lead, with Danielle Tolbert and Holly Schacht getting it started with consecutive 3-pointers. Lisa Beyer got inside for a tip-in, Simone Coburn made a jumper and Rachel Kearney followed with a basket of her own while the Lady Bulldogs (10-0) could manage only a pair of free throws from Zeinab Chan.

ONU still was on top 50-40 at the break and a 3 from Miranda Geever increased that to 53-42 early in the second half. But Union rallied to get back in it, using a 16-4 spurt to take its first lead since early in the game at 58-57 on a 3-pointer from Kayla Hudson. It was nip-and-tuck for several minutes before the Bulldogs moved ahead by 10 at 84-74 on a three-point play by Hope Adams.

That's when the Tigers bounced back. Geever converted two free throws to cap a 14-6 run to make it 90-88 with 2:08 left to play, but those were the last points for the home team. Union got two buckets from Chan, who was voted MVP of the tournament, and a pair of free throws from Kayla Bryant to finish out the scoring.

Still, a solid effort from coach Doug Porter's ONU squad, who beat No. 14 Trevecca Nazarene 110-82 Friday night. Here are The Formula stats from Saturday's game:

- Attempted 85 shots
- Attempted 45 3-pointers
- Rebounded 34 percent of the misses on offense
- Forced 28 turnovers
- Attempted 16 more shots than Union

Danielle Tolbert led the Tigers with 16 points and Coburn added 13. Five players got 16 minutes of run and another seven got at least 10, with 17 players getting on the court at one time or another. Pretty amazing. Point guard Danielle Pipal, one of my favorite players, went for seven points, five assists, three rebounds and two steals, and Denita Phelps had a team-high four steals.

Coach Porter and his team stay at home to play Purdue Univ.-Calumet on Tuesday, with game time scheduled for 6:30 p.m. EST.

Meanwhile, the NCAA Division III men's team at Grinnell lost its second consecutive road game in the Midwest Conference, with Ripon coming out on top 125-113 Saturday. The Red Hawks (4-1, 2-0 MWC) are expected to battle St. Norbert at the top of the conference, a spot the Pioneers (4-2, 0-2) hope to be in, as well.

It's amazing the Grinnell was even in this one after a casual glance at the box score. Ripon made 81 percent of its shots for the game (42-for-52) yet still found itself tied at 103 with 6:45 remaining in the game. A late run secured the victory for the home team, but I'm sure Pioneers coach David Arseneault saw plenty to be proud of from his team.

Here are The Numbers for Grinnell:

- Attempted 104 shots (goal is 94)
- Attempted 81 3-pointers (goal is 47)
- Rebounded 38 percent of the misses on offense (goal is 33 percent)
- Forced 30 turnovers (goal is 32)
- Attempted 52 more shots than Ripon (Wow!)

Freshman Aaron Levin continues to get more and more comfortable, leading a balanced attack with 24 points. He was followed by Matt Chalupa (23 points), Griffin Lentsch (18) and Patrick Maher (13), with a total of 14 players putting points on the board. As usual, 13 players got at least 12 minutes of time and 16 got in altogether.

You hopefully noted the high number of 3-pointer attempts for the Pioneers. The majority of these came from Chalupa (7-for-17), Levin (6-for-15) and Lentsch (5-for-15), and Chalupa added a game-high four steals. Maher and Scott Kaitz had five assists apiece for Grinnell.

For Ripon, Aris Wurtz had 35 points and 12 rebounds, Alex Tomshek went for 22 points and 10 rebounds, Taylor Koth finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds and point guard Scott Gillespie had 15 points and 14 assists. Whew, those are a lot of numbers, right?

The Pioneers have a busy week ahead, with three games in the next six days to finish off the pre-Christmas schedule. It starts with a visit from Principia on Monday, with game time at Darby Gymnasium is 7 p.m. EST.

A team we haven't checked in with in a bit is the women's team at Jackson (Mich.) Community College, which opened its season with a victory but since had lost six consecutive games. Make that seven after another one Saturday, but this wasn't your ordinary loss.

The Jets (1-7) fell on the road to Edison State in Ohio 133-131 in double overtime in the highest-scoring NJCAA Division II game ever. Jackson CC attempted 119 shots, also a national mark. Erika Bullock had a quadruple-double for the Jets, finishing with 31 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists and 10 steals. Very nice.

Others in double figures were Caitlyn Owens (19 points), Jessica Vidalez (18), Nicole Wurster (16) and DaJana’e Wilson (15). According to coach Andy Hoaglin, the home crowd gave his team a standing ovation when it left the court.

“I can’t take anything away from our girls,” Hoaglin told the Jackson (Mich.) Citizen Patriot. “They’re getting it. I’m not happy with the results, but we’re getting very close. We’re not as worried about November and December as we are being ready for when league play begins in January.”

The Eisenhower HS boys' team from Blue Island, Ill., lost its second consecutive game Saturday, when Rich East beat the Cardinals 89-69. Coach Mike Curta reports that for the first time, his team met only two of The Formula goals. Here's what Eisenhower put up:

- Attempted 89 shots (goal is 80)
- Attempted 44 3-pointers (goal is 32)
- Rebounded 30 percent of the misses on offense (goal is 35 percent)
- Forced 25 turnovers (goal is 26)
- Attempted 13 more shots than Rich East (goal is 24)

The Cardinals return to the court Tuesday, at home, against Tinley Park, with tip scheduled for 8 p.m. EST. The best of luck to Coach Curta and the team, and I have no doubt they will see better days ahead.

I also need to update you on the Wabasha-Kellogg HS girls' team from Minnesota, which lost to Lewiston-Altura 68-55 last Thursday. Coach Glen Irvin checked in with me via e-mail, and I'll let him tell the tale:

Coach Irvin: "... We played an athletic Lewiston-Altura team that was ready to run with us as I expected. The thing I didn't expect is to pickup 12 fouls in less than 5 minutes to begin the game. That put us off of our game and I actually had to take out my best post player and rebounder Nicki Alexander for the majority of the first half with 3 fouls in the those first 5 minutes.

"At halftime we were only down by eight 37-29 so I felt comfortable that we would get back into the game especially because the game was perfectly frantic! We ended up losing by ten ... though the game was closer than that but we were fouling at the end to make up the difference."

Here are Wabasha-Kellogg's Formula stats:

- Attempted 86 shots (goal is 80)
- Attempted 31 3-pointers (goal is 40)
- Rebounded 24 percent of the misses on offense (goal is 40 percent)
- Attempted 32 more shots that Lewiston-Altura

Good stuff. Coach Irvin and the Falcons go at it again Tuesday, at home, against St. Charles, and I wish them the best of luck.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Lots of games, including first loss for Grinnell, big victory for ONU

Basketball season is starting to hit its stride, with colleges and high schools all over the country getting into the heart of their schedules. It has been a busy past couple of days, so I'll catch you up to speed.

First, on Friday night, the NCAA Division III Grinnell men's team suffered its first loss of the season, falling 112-85 on the road at No. 8 St. Norbert in the Midwest Conference opener for both teams. The Pioneers go at it again Saturday at Ripon (3-1), which opened MWC play with a 97-79 victory over Knox on Friday night.

Plenty of balanced scoring for Grinnell despite the loss, with Jesse Ney (14 points), Matt Skelly (13), Aaron Levin (11) and Griffin Lentsch (10) all reaching double figures. Reserve guard Dominique Bellamy filled up his stat sheet with three points, six rebounds (three offensive), two assists, one block and one steal in 14 minutes of playing time; no one got more than that, and a total of 13 players got at least 10 minutes.

Here are The Formula stats:

- Attempted 85 shots (goal is 94)
- Attempted 50 3-pointers (goal is 47)
- Rebounded 31 percent of the misses on offense (goal is 33 percent)
- Forced 20 turnovers (goal is 32)
- Attempted 22 more shots than the Knights (goal is 25)

Of course, it didn't help that St. Norbert shot 83 percent from the field in the first half. Yep, that's right, 83 percent. That's 25-of-30, for those hoping to keep track at home, and the score at the break was 67-40.

David Wipperfurth led the Knights with 20 points.

As I said, the Pioneers get a quick shot at their first conference victory, with game time at Ripon 4 p.m. EST. Good luck to coach David Arseneault and his team.

Elsewhere, the NAIA Olivet Nazarene women's team coached by Doug Porter finally returned home after a seven-game road trip to open the season, and everything went well in a 110-82 victory over Trevecca Nazarene in the Holiday Inn Express CCAC Challenge at McHie Arena. Trevecca Nazarene, from the TranSouth Atlantic Conference, was ranked 14th in the preseason NAIA poll.

The Trojans (2-6) led only at 2-0 and 5-3 in the early going before the Tigers (6-2) took control, eventually taking a 15-point lead the half. At that point, ONU already had three players in double figures: Simone Coburn had 13 and Stephanie Denius Jaimie Buckman each scored 11 points. Denius and Buckman had three 3-pointers apiece in the opening 20 minutes.

Here are The Formula stats:

- Attempted 91 shots (goal is 90)
- Attempted 54 3-pointers (goal is 45)
- Rebounded 39 percent of the misses on offense (goal is 40 percent)
- Forced 40 turnovers (goal is 33)
- Attempted nine more shots than Trevecca Nazarene (goal is 15

Perhaps the best part about this performance was the perimeter shooting for the Tigers, who have struggled somewhat this season from beyond the arc. They made 19-of-54, a very solid 32 percent, with Buckman leading the way with five 3s. She and Coburn each finished with 17 points to lead the balanced attack, while Denius ended up with 16, Taylor Haymes added 15 and Holly Schacht scored 14.

And 11 players got at least 11 minutes of playing time, with 17 players getting on the court altogether. Good stuff.

The schedule doesn't get any easier for Coach Porter's team. It has a matchup Saturday with No. 1 Union, the two-time defending NAIA national champ, with the game scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. EST. I'll be rooting for ONU.

In high school boys' play, the Eisenhower HS Cardinals from Blue Island, Ill., lost to T.F. North 87-78 in the South Suburban Conference on Friday night. Eisenhower (2-3, 0-1 SSC) forced 26 turnovers in the first half alone (39 for the game) before fouls started taking a toll.

The Cardinals still managed to lead 42-41 at halftime before falling behind by 10 after three quarters. According to coach Mike Curta, they rallied to within five with 2 minutes left but couldn't get any closer. Here are Eisenhower's Formula stats:

- Attempted 97 shots (goal is 80)
- Attempted 61 3-pointers (goal is 32)
- Rebounded 27 percent of the misses on offense (goal is 35 percent)
- Forced 39 turnovers (goal is 26)
- Attempted 25 more shots than T.F. North (goal is 24)

All in all, pretty good effort for Coach Curta and his team. They get another chance at home Saturday against Rich East, and I'll keep you updated.

Finally, I need to update you on coach Evan Massey and the Galesburg (Ill.) HS girls' team, which increased their winning streak to four by beating previously unbeaten Rock Island 68-61 Thursday night in the Western Big 6. The Streaks (5-2, 2-0 WB6) took a commanding lead during the fourth quarter and went to their delay game for the final 3 minutes, which likely held the score and their Formula stats down.

Here are those results:

- Attempted 55 shots (goal is 72)
- Attempted 45 3-pointers (goal is 36)
- Rebounded 55 percent of the misses on offense (goal is 40 percent)
- Forced 31 turnovers (goal is 26)
- Attempted five more shots than Rock Island (goal is 20)

As I said, the slowness of the pace in the final quarter kept Galesburg from reaching a few of the goals, but still, a very nice effort. Coach Massey pointed to the depth of his team's scoring, and that is very evident: Jessica Howard and Jamie Johnson each had 13 to lead the way, and six more players scored at least five points and six different players made 3-pointers.

Another thing holding down the Streaks' numbers was the number of times they sent players to the foul line. This is a good thing, of course, particularly when you make your shots. They were 24-for-36 for the game, compared to only 6-for-12 for Rock Island.

Other key contributors that Coach Massey pointed out on his blog were Sadee Hamilton (six offensive rebounds) and Paige Klinck (three assists).

Galesburg is off until next Thursday, so the players all have the weekend to rest and gear up for the remainder of the season. I wish all of them the best of luck.

Friday, December 3, 2010

A wonderful trip to watch Glenville State

BLUEFIELD, W.Va. -- Where to start? From the chance to sit right behind the bench and here various strategies, to keeping a close eye on the substitution patterns, to hearing coach-to-player and player-to-player instruction, my trip Thursday to Bluefield to watch the NCAA Division II women's team at Glenville State was completely worth it. And, who knows, given the convenience of the trip and the chance to meet up with a friend from college, if coach Bunky Harkleroad continues to lead this program, it might become an annual trek!

First, the details: the Pioneers jumped out early and stayed on top throughout, beating Bluefield State 118-63 on the road in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Really, I know it's somewhat of a cliche, but it could have been much worse.

Now Glenville State finally returns home after eight consecutive road games to open the season; incidentally, one of those games only will count in the conference standings, since Ohio Valley used an ineligible player in its overtime victory over the Pioneers on Nov. 16. So Glenville State's record improved to 4-3 overall, 2-0 in the WVIAC. Weird.

In this one, the Lady Blues (1-3) dressed only eight players, so even if their level of talent would have been equal (it wasn't), the toll of running with Glenville State for 40 minutes likely would have been too much. Coach Harkleroad backed off in the second half after taking a 62-27 lead the break, employing only a half-court trap following made baskets for the first 8 minutes or so before completely abandoning any type of full-court defense in the final 8 minutes.

Still, the Pioneers got their numbers. Here are The Formula stats:

- Attempted 87 shots
- Attempted 46 3-pointers
- Rebounded 40 percent of their misses on offense
- Forced 33 turnovers
- Attempted 11 more shots than Bluefield State

The point guard tandem of Miranda Reed and Danielle Woodmore completely dominated, particularly once fatigue started playing a role. They combined for 40 points, 17 assists (only six turnovers) and eight steals, a wonderful display of solid basketball. Woodmore had 22 points, seven assists and five steals, with Reed going for 18 points, 10 assists and three steals. Seven players in all reached double figures in scoring for Glenville State, with Kenyell Goodson (14 points), Kristen Golden (14 points and 13 rebounds), Autumn Davis (12), Tenisha Wilson (11) and Tiffani Huffman (10) joining Reed and Woodmore.

All 12 players scored, with a 3-pointer by Kim Stephens with 2:20 left in the game getting her off zero. Everybody got plenty of run, as always, prompting my friend that went with me, Dave Barr, an old roommate from my time at Elon, to say about 5 minutes into the game: "Everybody's played so far, right?" Yep, Dave, everybody played.

Really, the details of the game likely aren't worth repeating. In one way, this wasn't a great game to attend because it wasn't very competitive. Yet, in another aspect, it was the absolutely perfect game to watch, since Coach Harkleroad was able to focus so much on getting his team to stay true to The System.

"Keep your shape!" he instructed many times while his team was on defense, essentially asking the players to retain the look of their press, even in the half-court.

"No fouls, keep running!" he told them, hoping to keep the game moving to allow the Pioneers' superior depth to take over.

"Score that!" he pleaded with Golden, one of his post players, when she grabbed an offensive rebound and immediately looked to pass back out.

Great stuff. Dave and I were fortunate to arrive early enough to secure our prime seats, so everything was right there in front of us. We were able to hear the shifts called out, including which players were involved and when they were scheduled to go on the court, which was very fascinating.

Here are some other observations from the game:

- The competitiveness and focus of Glenville State's players was evident throughout. Not sure how else to put it. The looks in the eyes of the players during the entire game was something that surprised me. It wasn't even that I expected it to be anything different, it was just so easy to see why each of them is contributing to a college program.

- It was nice to see the Pioneers get going a little bit from the perimeter. Of course, last season against Bluefield State, they set the all-division NCAA record with 29 3-pointers on 62 attempts, another all-division high. Oh, and in case you didn't know, or I didn't share, Glenville State set a few other all-division marks last season: 3s in a season (394, old record was 386 by Clarion in 1992), 3s attempted in a season (1,286, old record was 1,101, Clarion, 1993) and 3s made per game (14.1, old record was 13.3 by Clarion, 1992).

This time, the Pioneers finished 17-for-46 in the game, but made 10-of-22 in the second half. Goodson was 4-for-9 and Davis was 4-for-14.

- Coach Harkleroad has a wonderful sideline demeanor. Sure, the score really never was in doubt, but you know he never took that for granted. He didn't stomp his foot or scowl at his players (anyone ever seen the behavior of Andy Landers, the women's coach at Georgia?), preferring to teach in a calm voice, one-on-one. He also rarely had any words for the officials, even when they were missing traveling violations on the players from Bluefield.

- Speaking of the refereeing, I've often read posts on the Yahoo! board about how sometimes a majority of calls goes against System teams. It happened in this game. In passing, I've mentioned the numerous traveling violations against Bluefield that weren't called; yet, a handful were called against the Pioneers that weren't nearly as egregious as the ones committed by the Lady Blues.

Also, midway through the second half, with the score a bit out of hand, Wilson was called for an intentional foul while jockeying for position on defense. Certainly, she might have meant to elbow Bluefield's Kateishia Wright, but it appeared to me as if both players were simply jostling for the spot. In any regard, shortly after that, Glenville State's Beth Deren had possession of the ball while being harassed by a pair of defenders. She appeared to pivot in an attempt to avoid giving up the ball, but she, too, was called for an intentional foul.

This led to a timeout from Coach Harkleroad, where he no doubt instructed his players to avoid contact all all costs!

- Anyone who believes System teams "don't play defense" (you there, Johnny Rain Cloud?) needs to watch a game in person. Sure, Glenville State gave up some open looks with its press, yet the amount of effort each player gave to create traps was something to behold. Watching Reed or Woodmore sprint down the sideline to cut off a dribbler, or watching Golden creep in from the back of the press, or watching the face-guarding going on during an in-bound pass, there is no way to deny they were playing defense.

- The men's teams had a game scheduled immediately after this one, so the Glenville State squad sat amongst Dave and I to watch the women. And almost to a man, at least the players sitting close to me, they tracked the game with a keen eye, encouraging the Pioneers to keep up the pressure. I even heard the comment: "They're going to reach a hundred tonight, for sure." I will tell you the Bluefield State men's team wasn't as involved.

Would this have happened if Coach Harkleroad's team walked it up the court and won 50-40? I doubt it.

- A nice group of fans traveled to watch Glenville State, including, I'm sure, many parents. Still, neat to see them congratulating the team following the game, hugging all the players and really exemplifying a family atmosphere.

- There seemed to be occasions when a handful of Pioneers' players weren't sure what to do on defense, which happens when you have several new faces. Again, Coach Harkleroad treated these moments as ones meant for teaching, not criticizing, and once they get it, it's easy to see this is a supremely talented team.

- Glenville State went with an interesting defense in the final minutes, one I remember the late Jim Valvano often employing at North Carolina State. There were three defenders playing man-to-man, with the two others ("bigs," to use coaching vernacular) guarding the paint. It stifled Bluefield State almost as much as the press, which was interesting.

That's it for my observations. I'll let you hear what Coach Harkleroad had to say about this one, and the season so far, in our conversation after the game:

(Was this just another step in the process?)

Coach Harkleroad: "It was, we needed a game like that, where we could get on somebody early and stay on them. Because we've been playing such good competition, and playing on the road, so hopefully we can keep the momentum. We needed a momentum game, so hopefully we can carry that into Saturday. We've got a home stretch here before Christmas."

(I'm guessing it will be nice to get back home.)

Coach Harkleroad: "Our gym's great. It's an older building, but we've got great fans. People really get into women's basketball. We're excited about that. All our news kids haven't experienced it yet, except for a scrimmage, so we're excited about it."

(The effort against Liberty, a Division I team, in the game previous must have been pretty good.)

Coach Harkleroad: "The first 10 minutes were basically a wash, and then they go on like a 23-3 run in the last 10 of the first half. Then we competed in the second half. We got beaten by 18. We did things that we can control, the effort on the offensive glass, and a pretty good defensive effort, those were big positives. We couldn't control some of the shots not falling, we were trying to make them. They were so good defensively, though, we settled for a lot of bad shots that were NBA 3s, and we don't practice those."

(How about the shooting in the second half against Bluefield State, it appeared you got on a little hot streak?)

Coach Harkleroad: "Hopefully, we're doing a better job of making a steal and then kind of settling down and finding somebody in rhythm. Like I said, shooting shots we practice. Toeing the line instead of just rushing. With our shooters, we were talking in the huddle; at practice, we have to get on them about going harder, and then in the games, we're having to get on them to slow down."

(What are some things you want to clean up before Saturday?)

Coach Harkleroad: "Oh, turnovers, big-time. Tonight was better. We do so many things with the ball that we really shouldn't. A lot of them are aggressive mistakes, and one of the struggles with The System is you have to get them to go, go, go. So aggressive mistakes you can live with for a while, but then it becomes a matter of discipling yourself and making the easy pass. We're still not doing the best job, either, of ball reversal. We'll throw it to the point, and we'll have a wide-open shooter on the wing. And it may not be our primary or our best scorer, but still, share the ball and make pass. And we're not doing a good job of recognizing what the situation is or what the easy pass is."

Good stuff there. Again, thanks to Coach Harkleroad for his hospitality at the game (the man gave up his halftime stats to me and Dave!), and congratulations on the victory. Unless something bizarre happens, it's unlikely I'll catch Glenville State in person again this year, but I will follow them right to the end.

Good luck to him and his team the rest of the season, beginning Saturday (at home!) against Pitt-Johnstown in another WVIAC matchup. Game time is 5:30 p.m. EST.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Wabasha-Kellogg loses opener

The girls' team at Wabasha-Kellogg HS in Minnesota dropped its opener Tuesday night to local rival Plainview-Elgin-Millville 73-69. The Falcons, coached by blog interview subject Glen Irvin, took a quick 10-point lead and forced some early foul trouble.

"Unfortunately we couldn't capitalize on free throws or wide open looks or we would have easily eclipsed the century mark," Irvin wrote to me in an e-mail. "Instead the game stayed close throughout and we missed key free throws in the last minutes that helped them seal the victory."

Here are The Formula numbers for Wabasha-Kellogg:

- Attempted 90 shots (goal is 80)
- Attempted 40 3-pointers (goal is 40)
- Rebounded 46 percent of its misses on offense (goal is 40 percent)
- Forced 48 turnovers (goal is 30)
- Attempted 33 more shots than Plainview-Elgin-Millville (goal is 15)

So, 5-for-5 in goals, which almost always leads to a victory, yet didn't this time. Falcons shot 18 percent on their 3s and only 21 percent at the free throw line, and you would expect those numbers to improve as the players get more accustomed to The System.

Taylor Lerum led Wabasha-Kellogg with 18 points on 8-for-14 shooting and Emily Huth added 13 points and eight rebounds. Others chipping in included Nicki Alexander (eight points and 12 rebounds), Karli Harris (eight points) and Kalyn Biever (five points, five assists and five steals, a triple five-pack!).

Coach Irvin and his team travel to Lewiston-Altura on Thursday night.

"Last year we had two great games that we played against them winning at home and losing on the road," Coach Irvin wrote. "This team will run with us so hopefully the score is in the 80s, which I believe will give us a great chance to pull off a win."

Good luck to him and the Falcons. We'll check back in with them.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Glenville State plays well in loss, ONU sees win streak end

The NCAA Division II women's team at Glenville State gave its best effort on the road Tuesday night, taking an early lead on D-I Liberty before losing 93-75. Last season when these teams met, the Flames won 86-45, so it's easy to see how much coach Bunky Harkleroad's bunch has closed the gap in the past year.

The Pioneers (3-4) scored five unanswered points to take a 14-9 lead, thanks to a 3-pointer from Kenyell Goodson and two free throws from Tenisha Wilson. That's when Liberty (3-4) went on a back-breaking 31-6 run to take control, and the margin was 22 at the break (49-27).

But Glenville State was far from done, getting back within 15 on a couple of occasions, the final time on a layup from Mishae Miles midway through the second half. And the lead could have immediately gotten smaller, too, when Wilson got a steal shortly after Miles' basket. Wilson missed a 3 that was rebounded by the Flames, and Beth Deren quickly got the ball back for the Pioneers with a steal of her own.

Her shot from beyond the arc also missed, and when Tolu Omotola got inside for a putback on the other end, Liberty led 74-57 and held control for the rest of the game.

Coach Harkleroad saw some great things from his team. The Pioneers forced 35 turnovers (23 steals) and grabbed 25 rebounds on the offensive end (45 percent). The shooting woes still were there; they shot only 2-for-22 on 3-pointers in the first half and improved only slightly after the break, going 5-for-24. All in all, 15 percent just won't get it done against a superior opponent.

Here are the complete Formula stats:

- Attempted 82 shots
- Attempted 46 3-pointers
- Rebounded 25 of the misses on offense
- Forced 35 turnovers
- Attempted six more shots than Liberty

Wilson must have been electric. She finished with 23 points and four steals and teammate Autumn Davis added 15 points. Deren also had four steals and Davis and Miles collected three apiece.

Glenville State returns to the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference on Thursday, continuing its marathon season-opening road trip at Bluefield State, the eighth consecutive game away from home for Coach Harkleroad's squad. And some good news: I will be in attendance!

Yep, I will be making the trek up U.S. Highway 52 and Interstate 77 to cover the game. In person. Really. It should be a blast, and I'm looking forward to it. Check back for a report Friday.

Also on Tuesday, the NAIA women's team at Olivet Nazarene saw its four-game winning streak end with a tough 99-96 loss at McKendree, which was ranked 25th in the preseason NAIA coaches' poll. The Tigers, coached by Doug Porter, also finished 7-for-46 from the line in this one, matching the effort hundreds of miles away from Glenville State. Would have thunk it?

ONU led by 10 early in the second half after two free throws from Miranda Geever made it 64-54 before the Bearcats rallied. After Jessica Steinmetz got inside for a hoop to make it 80-80 with 6:36 left, McKendree got its first lead since the first half on a free throw by Leann Voss.

The lead grew to seven before the Tigers bounced back, and it was nip-and-tuck down the stretch. The Bearcats were up 98-93 in the final minute when Geever made the first of two shots at the line, but teammate Simone Coburn got the rebound and scored to make it 98-96.

With 29 seconds remaining, McKendree's Katie Fullerton was fouled by Danielle Pipal and converted 1-of-2 for a three-point edge. Holly Schacht and Pipal each missed shots in the final 15 seconds, with Pipal's a 3 that would have forced overtime. Tough way to lose, sounds as if it was a great game.

Here are ONU's Formula stats:

- Attempted 101 shots
- Attempted 46 3-pointers
- Rebounded 27 of the misses on offense (41 percent)
- Forced 39 turnovers (23 steals)
- Attempted 19 more shots than the Bearcats

Danielle Tolbert led the Tigers with 17 points and Pipal was her usual dominant self, finishing with 11 points, eight assists, three rebounds and five steals. Coburn had an efficient 10 points, taking only four shots. And, per The System, no one played more than Jaimie Buckman's 17 minutes and 13 got at least 10 minutes on the floor, with three others going 9 minutes. Pretty impressive.

Finally, ONU heads home, hosting the Holiday Inn Express CCAC Challenge on McHie Arena. The games won't be very easy, though, with a matchup Friday night with No. 14 Trevecca Nazarene followed by a visit Saturday from the top-ranked team in the country, two-time defending national champ Union. Nice scheduling, Coach Porter!

Good luck to him and his team, and I'll provide updates when I have them.