Tuesday, November 22, 2011

After a Promising Start, SHU Gets a Dose of Reality

I was going to wait of couple of weeks before my next blog, but that was before I realized my first post would be viewed an astounding 15 times!  The masses have clearly spoken…

This past Saturday, Sacred Heart was in Virginia to take on the University of Richmond, the second game of a 2-game East Coast trip. I would have liked to make the 130 mile trek south to support my alma mater, but I decided against convincing my wife our Saturday night would be best spent watching the Pioneers and Spiders do battle, with a 4 hour round trip to boot.  That would have been a tough sell.  Instead, we spent our Saturday night racing to the mall before close in order to take advantage of Gap’s 60% one-day only sale.  If that’s our idea of weekend excitement now, just wait until we have children.

Anyway, enough about my exciting life.  SHU, after dominating wins over American East opponents Hartford and Stony Brook, had an opportunity to show college basketball they were for real, by facing Big East doormat Rutgers and NCAA tournament mainstay University of Richmond in a 2 game series.  This was their chance to prove themselves, hang in there against quality D1 schools, and better prepare themselves for the NEC grind.  They did after all, run that extra mile, lift that extra weight, and forgo their summer vacation (not even a trip to the beach?) to improve their defense, as portrayed in this mini puff piece, written by Connecticut Post writer William Paxton.   

Well last week, the extra work didn’t pay off.  Against Rutgers, despite leading 35-32 at the end of a sluggish first half, SHU was steamrolled in the 2nd half with Rutgers full court pressure and hot outside shooting.  The second tilt versus Richmond was even more of a disaster, as the Richmond Spiders raced out to a 24-3 lead, en route to a 25 point victory.  SHU's poor start versus Richmond was so bad that it conjured up memories of SHU getting drubbed at UNLV in 1997 to begin their final season as a Division 2 program.  Does anyone remember that infamous game, when a UNLV player told the media that their practices were more challenging than their lopsided contest against the Pioneers?

When it was all said and done, SHU was outscored 174-133 in the 2 games.  40 total turnovers to go with 23 assists.  Opponents shot a combined 54.5% from the field.  Not exactly a stark improvement in defense, if you ask me.  To make matters worse, Chris “The Future” Evans only played 7 minutes in the Richmond game.  Is he in Bike’s doghouse, or worse, injured?  Hopefully, SHU can right the ship against lesser opponents Hampton and Brown, before beginning their NEC campaign at Quinnipiac on Dec 1st.  Those are the games that will matter most, although it would be nice if SHU could not get blowout against a real team one of these days.

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