The last time I had seen UNC-Wilmington they were a winless team with a bunch of underclassmen trying to find out how to play as a team. The Seahawks were battling, but couldn't put a full game together in close losses. Since then, they have picked up a few good wins including at Illinois State and Campbell. Much of the recent success was from junior forward Keith Rendleman, who had been averaging a double-double, and freshman Adam Smith, who was coming off a huge game where he scored 32 in a close loss against Wake Forest.
Making the trip to Wilmington were the Furman Paladins from the SoCon. I've mostly thought of Furman as a football school, with the basketball team only having six winning records in the past 20 years. One of those winning records was last year, as coach Jeff Jackson has improved the team the past three years. With a balanced attack from the Paladins and a 6-6 record, I couldn't get a gauge on how the game might play out.
Driving into Wilmington, I was aided by a little bit more knowledge of the area, as we recently hired a new UNCW grad at our workplace. While I was telling him about some of the ins and outs around the office, he taught me about some of the better places to check out in Wilmington. He even let me have an old point-and-shoot camera he hadn't used in years to use for the game reviews. Now I just need to learn how to take a decent picture.
When I got to Trask Coliseum, I was glad to see there was a decent crowd, and while it still was holiday break, a good handful of students had shown up, making for a small, but raucous, student section. I'm not sure how many eastern seaboard transplants go to Wilmington, but many of the kids looked like they were from the cast of Jersey Shore, so they were represented tonight.
The game started off well for Furman as they pulled out to a seven-point lead behind a collection of lay-ups and jump shots. The Seahawks weren't going to fold easily though, as Adam Smith started lighting it up as he dropped in 18 during the first stanza. He was hitting deep threes to vault UNCW into the lead. In fact, the entire Seahawk team started shooting with confidence. This was a team that looked afraid to shoot from distance when I last saw them, much less make them, but in the first half they went 7-for-11 from deep. Furman couldn't answer the attack, and fell in a 15-point hole.
Furman could never get the game back into single digits the rest of the game. Their lack of a go-to scorer seems to be a glaring weakness. They have plenty of good role players, but there doesn't seem to be anyone that can dig them out of a hole once they get down. Meanwhile, Wilmington has seemed to have grown as a team. Smith, along with fellow freshman K.K. Simmons, Freddie Jackson, and Cedrick Williams are getting more minutes and playing with confidence. They kept Furman at bay in the second half and never let them establish a run to get back into the game.
I'm really becoming fan of this Seahawk team. Going to Trask is fun, the tickets are affordable, the food is cheap, and the fans seem to be getting more behind this team. I bought the "Old Dominion" package of games, which gets me the ODU game plus 3 others at a decent discount, so I'll be looking forward to seeing how these kids fare in CAA play.
at NORTH CAROLINA-WILMINGTON 72, FURMAN 61 12/30/2011
FURMAN 6-7 (0-2) -- R. Brown 1-9 4-4 6; B. Irwin 4-12 0-0 11; C. Reddick 4-9 1-2 11; C. Reddick 4-7 2-2 10; C. Toler 2-5 0-1 4; B. Sebirumbi 3-5 4-6 10; J. Loyd 2-9 0-0 4; B. Barnes 1-3 0-0 2; D. Early 0-4 0-0 0; D. Brown 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 22-65 11-15 61. NORTH CAROLINA-WILMINGTON 4-7 (0-1) -- K. Rendleman 4-8 1-2 9; A. Smith 8-17 0-0 20; D. Morales 1-3 0-0 2; K. Simmons 3-6 0-0 9; T. Milson 4-8 2-4 11; C. Williams 4-7 0-0 8; T. Deloach 2-6 2-2 6; M. Wilson 1-2 0-0 2; F. Jackson 1-1 0-1 2; N. Anderson 1-2 0-0 2; S. Reybold 0-0 0-0 0; C. Chambers 0-0 1-2 1. Totals 29-60 6-11 72.
Three-point goals: FURM 6-26 (B. Barnes 0-1; B. Irwin 3-9; C. Reddick 2-6; R. Brown 0-2; J. Loyd 0-3; D. Brown 1-2; D. Early 0-3), UNCW 8-14 (T. Milson 1-3; N. Anderson 0-1; K. Simmons 3-4; A. Smith 4-6); Rebounds: FURM 42 (C. Reddick 7), UNCW 31 (K. Rendleman 7); Assists: FURM 14 (R. Brown 5), UNCW 16 (D. Morales 3); Total Fouls -- FURM 19, UNCW 14; Fouled Out: FURM-None; UNCW-None.