It has become somewhat of a tradition as of late for me to try to catch a double header of college basketball on Saturdays. I have done it several times so far this year and already have other trips in the works. I thought I'd be good to go on Saturday the 21st, as I already had a ticket to Coastal Carolina when they would be hosting Radford. The game was at 2 pm, so surely I could find an evening game that I could make it to that wasn't too far out of the way.
I scanned the schedules and wasn't left with any options at all. Charleston Southern would be playing at 5:30 and if the CCU game was ending at 4 I knew I wouldn't make it in time for tip, since it takes a little over 2 hours to get to CSU. I never like missing any part of a game, much less leaving early, but I started considering Coastal's opponent in Radford. The Highlanders had been playing better as of late, by blowing out High Point and staying with Campbell, but surely this was a team that CCU could handle easily. I figured the game might go by pretty quickly if it got out of hand and went ahead and bought a ticket to the CSU game.
I knew I was being a hypocrite because I always hate when teams underestimate their opponents and here I was treating Radford as an afterthought. Even though RU hadn't won a road game in the last 28 tries, there is always a possibility that the supposed "inferior" team can make a game of it.
When I arrived at CCU there wasn't much of a student section and the normally full part of the arena was only at half capacity throughout. I'm guessing the students were underestimating the opponent also, or they were just too hungover from Friday night, which is the most likely case here at CCU.
There wasn't much energy in Kimbel as the game began and Radford took full advantage. The Highlanders were smothering defensively and forcing Coastal into some bad shots. Radford crept out to a 12-6 lead after the first 7 minutes and it seemed as if the Chanticleers were just going through the motions.
Radford plays a lot of underclassmen and they have some young guys that can get after it. Freshmen Javonte Green and RJ Price are two solid building blocks for the future. What the team lacks is an inside presence that can defend the rim. Art Parakhouski has been gone from Radford for a couple years now and there hasn't been a suitable replacement since his departure. CCU got out of their funk by exploiting this fact and making a living with points in the paint. Coastal's guards were able to drive and score without being bothered too much and CCU went on a 23-6 run.
The best part from my perspective was the game was flying by. There were barely any fouls being called during the quick first half and only a total of five free throws were shot. The half breezed by in 40 minutes and Coastal had taken command of the game with a 41-23 lead. I figured this would be a piece of cake in getting down to Charleston after the game.
Radford had other ideas though, as they weren't simply going to roll over and run out the clock in the 2nd half for anyone's benefit. RU used a full court press which really bothered CCU for a stretch. CCU often plays three guys at the same time who all have point guard experience with Kierre Greenwood, Danny Nieman, and Anthony Raffa, but for some reason they can't take care of the ball during stretches when they are pressed. At one point the Highlanders forced four consecutive turnovers and Coastal had 14 for the entire second half. Even with these extra opportunities Radford wasn't converting them into points and couldn't get a significant run going.
Of course, with the added pressure and higher pace trying to be pushed by Radford the fouls started to come. The whole flow came to a screeching halt midway through the half as the teams were just alternating trips to the foul line. All the while I was checking the time as the minutes slowly ticked down in the game.
Radford could never make it a game despite senior Daniel Mitchell's career high 21 points. Mitchell had never even scored in double figures, but was making some ridiculous shots. The problem was the lead fluctuated between 11 and 18 as CCU only missed three shots in the whole half.
I was getting a bit agitated with how the game was progressing, but I got a brief bit of entertainment at one of the final media timeouts when Chauncey the Chanticleer did a bit of human surfing on some of the students.
With a couple of minutes to go Coastal was up 18, but Radford wasn't letting up; they were intentionally fouling and using all their timeouts. I thought about just leaving, but I had to see this all the way through. The Highlanders mercifully stopped fouling with 30 seconds to go and let the Chants dribble the ball out with a 20 point win. I got out of my seat and was dying to get out of there, but an old couple was lingering in the row I was trying to get out of. It seemed like hours and I was trying to be as patient as possible, but I had places to be. I snuck around everyone and bolted out of the arena, off to my second game of the day.
at COASTAL CAROLINA 82, RADFORD 62 01/21/2012
RADFORD 4-18 (1-9) -- J. Smith 2-9 2-2 7; K. Noreen 0-4 0-0 0; J. Green 3-11 4-5 10; R. Price 2-8 3-4 9; C. Smith 4-8 0-2 8; D. Mitchell 9-11 0-1 21; T. Cerrah 2-3 1-2 5; B. Smith 0-2 0-0 0; J. Carethers 0-1 2-2 2; L. Winegarner 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-57 12-18 62. COASTAL CAROLINA 14-5 (7-2) -- K. Greenwood 5-10 6-8 17; D. Nieman 1-3 0-0 3; A. Raffa 10-13 7-8 28; S. McLaurin 3-4 4-6 10; C. Gradnigo 5-8 3-3 13; J. Pack 3-3 0-2 6; W. Gillis 2-2 1-1 5; B. Addey 0-0 0-0 0; J. Griffin 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 29-44 21-28 82.
Three-point goals: RAD 6-23 (D. Mitchell 3-3; B. Smith 0-1; J. Smith 1-5; C. Smith 0-4; J. Green 0-2; R. Price 2-5; K. Noreen 0-3), CCU 3-7 (A. Raffa 1-2; D. Nieman 1-2; J. Griffin 0-1; K. Greenwood 1-2); Rebounds: RAD 20 (J. Green 6), CCU 33 (C. Gradnigo 8); Assists: RAD 9 (C. Smith 3), CCU 13 (K. Greenwood 6); Total Fouls -- RAD 23, CCU 14; Fouled Out: RAD-D. Mitchell; CCU-J. Pack.