The first time I saw UNC Greensboro was a few weeks ago when they won a buzzer beater against Samford. I went into that game with no knowledge of what the Spartans were all about. I came away with a little bit of an understanding of who they were as a team, but figured they were just on a lucky streak. Well much to my surprise UNCG came into their home game against Charleston as winners of 9 of the last 10 games. Among those wins were two overtime victories and four wins by a single possession. The Spartans have shown a lot of character and moxie to turn a season around which looked lost after their head coach was fired and they started the season 2-14.
Charleston is a team that I really can't get a handle on either. When I last saw them in person they were looking impressive in a road win against Coastal Carolina. The Cougars had the feel of a top contender in the SoCon. From that point on though, CofC's season has been a roller coaster with injuries and a leave of absence from Bobby Cremins. Despite the turbulence and several league losses, the Cougars have won 3 straight including Saturday's upset of league leader Davidson.
There was no telling which way this game would go, if I would have guessed two months ago what would have happened, I would have figured Charleston would win in a rout, but since UNCG had already beaten CofC on the road the end result was very much a mystery, that's part of the reason this was a late addition to my I Will list.
I don't know if I'm just getting used to it or I've gone off the deep end, but these 3 hour middle of the work week trips to games seem like nothing now that I've done so many of them. I got to Greensboro with no problems, strolled in the Greensboro Coliseum and purchased my $10 ticket. I ended up sitting next to a very knowledgeable UNCG fan that I was able to get a ton of helpful info from. He was a fan that knew the limitations of his team and didn't have the blinders on to when they made mistakes, but was still passionate towards them. Those are the best kind of fans you can find, plus he knew all about the midmajority, so I didn't have to explain why I was there without getting a puzzled look in return.
One of the first things he pointed out to me was that the SoCon's leading scorer for Greensboro, Trevis Simpson, was in a walking boot. The thought was that he may have had a broken foot, but apparently it's just a toe injury, but he'd still be missing tonight's game. I figured this key missing piece for the Spartans would give the Cougars the advantage. The additional scoring load would have to be picked up by an unknown for Greensboro.
There was hope for UNCG though as Derrell Armstrong has been key for the Spartans since they turned the season around. He was almost unstoppable in the first half scoring in a variety of ways. Armstrong burned his defender on 3 straight plays with backdoor cuts for easy layups. The Cougar defenders were probably so close to him on the perimeter since he was burying 3's leading to his 20 points in the 1st.
Despite the barrage from Armstrong, the Cougars didn't get blown out in first session. CofC had a noticeable advantage inside and it seemed like they were getting 3 or 4 chances to score every time down. Trent Wiedemen in particular was a beast on the glass with 18 boards. Charleston was down by as much as 9, but some turnovers from the Spartans let CofC get to within 1 at the half.
At the half I talked with the UNCG fan about how Armstrong is going to have to get some help if they were going to win this one. He mentioned Aloysius Henry had been playing well of late and he called that one perfectly as the unknown contributor for Simpson ended up being Henry. I always love the sound of the crowd when the center or power forward takes 3. It's almost like a collective "What The????" and this was the case when Henry attempted his second 3 of the season after Charleston came out of the gates quick and took the lead. Rather than being a bad brick or airball,which was likely what most were thinking, Henry's 3 swished through. He followed that up with a dunk and another long jumper. Henry was feeling it and you could tell he was having a ton of fun out there.
The rest of the game turned into a dunking exhibition for Henry. He ended up matching Armstrong's 20 in the first with 20 of his own. Charleston was settling for jumpers that weren't falling and it was much too late before they started feeding the post where they had the advantage earlier. The Cougars couldn't get the game closer than 8 once it got out of hand and UNCG got the win, 78-63.
Greensboro is a fun team to watch and while they will try to make the flashier play at times, which has backfired on them before, they are really developing as a team. Simpson's injury isn't season ending, so despite the overall record this may be one of the contenders in the SoCon Tournament.
at NORTH CAROLINA-GREENSBORO 78, CHARLESTON 63 02/15/2012
CHARLESTON 16-11 (8-8) -- A. Lawrence 3-10 4-4 11; N. Johnson 4-14 0-0 10; T. Wiedeman 6-13 9-11 21; A. Wiggins 4-13 1-4 11; A. Baru 4-6 0-0 8; M. Sundberg 0-2 0-0 0; J. Scott 0-1 2-2 2; J. Carlton 0-0 0-0 0; T. Dixon 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-59 16-21 63. NORTH CAROLINA-GREENSBORO 12-15 (10-5) -- D. Armstrong 12-22 2-4 30; K. Van Dussen 2-5 4-4 9; D. Parker 0-4 0-0 0; D. Williams 0-1 0-0 0; K. Randall 5-10 1-2 12; A. Henry 9-13 3-4 22; N. Paulos 1-4 0-0 3; T. Hoffer 1-1 0-0 2; A. Brackett 0-2 0-0 0; E. Bone 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-62 10-14 78.
Three-point goals: COFC 5-25 (A. Wiggins 2-7; M. Sundberg 0-2; A. Lawrence 1-5; N. Johnson 2-9; J. Scott 0-1; T. Wiedeman 0-1), UNCG 8-19 (K. Randall 1-2; K. Van Dussen 1-3; A. Henry 1-1; D. Parker 0-3; D. Armstrong 4-7; N. Paulos 1-3); Rebounds: COFC 37 (T. Wiedeman 18), UNCG 29 (D. Williams 11); Assists: COFC 10 (A. Lawrence 7), UNCG 14 (K. Randall 6); Total Fouls -- COFC 15, UNCG 17; Fouled Out: COFC-None; UNCG-None.