Game #9-015: Virginia Military Institute vs. The Citadel BulldogsNovember 10, 2012 4:00 pm
In the first game of the All Military Classic, I was glad that I was able to see two service academies play that I would probably never see play again in Army and Air Force. The problem was that I was not able to recognize too much from either team since they were both new to me.
That would not be the case in the second match-up of the evening featuring the host team The Citadel against VMI. I had been to The Citadel a handful of times last year and saw them struggle through a 6-24 season. On the flipside, being a fan of the Big South, I knew all about the Keydets of VMI and their up-tempo style throughout the past few years.
Before the game started, there was the matter of entertaining myself for about 30 minutes between the first and second games of the afternoon. While McAlister Field House had not made any new improvements to the facilities, they had added a new Southern-style concession stand to go along with the normal arena fare. There was the option of fried pickles and fried veggies and I'm sure they would fry whatever you would ask them to, this being the South and all. I passed on the high fat options, but after walking around a little bit more I was able to pet The Citadel mascot since I'm a sucker for Bulldogs.
Having a familiarity of both teams, I also knew about the key players each team had. For The Citadel, there was the returning Mike Groselle, who was the do everything man for the Bulldogs last year without much help. For VMI, they had Big South Preseason Player of the Year Stan Okoye. I had seen both play and they are both going to be big parts to their respective teams' upcoming seasons. While neither would have likely matched up against each other much, I was interested how both would start off the year.
The game started out back and forth in the early going and Groselle was making his presence known on the offensive and defensive glass. He was not getting too much help though and the Keydets took advantage. Okoye converted on two three-point plays and a personal eight-point run by junior guard Rodney Glasgow had them up 21-10.
This looked like a familiar scene for most Bulldog games from last year, when Groselle had to do most of the work without much help from his teammates. Things changed for the better for The Citadel when Marshall Harris started to make a living from the line to go with some made shots from freshman Matt Van Scyoc.
With the game much tighter, one of the Keydets, Brian Brown, started to step up. VMI has had several players in years past that have put up some big stats like Reggie Williams, Austin Kenon, and Keith Gabriel. Much of it is contributed to the fast-paced offense, but it looks like Brown may be able to be the next scoring machine after easily burying a bunch of open threes.
During a media timeout, it was again time for the t-shirt toss, and much like the previous game I was just sitting there while many others were waving their arms wildly and in my lap plopped another shirt. After catching a medium in the previous game, I was hoping for a larger size, but no luck as it was a small.
THE CITADEL 84, VIRGINIA MILITARY INSTITUTE 76
Since neither were likely going to fit me, I noticed a family with two young kids feverishly jumping up and down for a t-shirt to no avail. I tossed the shirts to the kids (since I'm such a nice guy and all) while receiving the thanks of their parents.
The game was closer than I had expected with the teams tied at 34 at the half. The Citadel looked like a different team and were bruising the Keydets in the paint. However, they fell into VMI's type of game starting the second half when both teams ran up and down the floor trading buckets. Three straight threes in about a minute from Brown, Okoye, and Nick Gore gave VMI a small lead, but their carelessness with the ball started to take over. The Bulldogs used it to go on a big 20-6 run fueled by Groselle and Van Scyoc bring on chants of "Matt Matt!" from the few cadets that were there.
No lead is all that safe when facing the full-court press of the Keydets and the pressure was getting to the Bulldogs. An Okoye three had the lead down to four for The Citadel, but the game's most exciting play happened when Harris stole the ball and led a three-on-one break. Harris tossed the ball to Lawrence Miller who made sweet behind-the-back pass to a trailing Van Scyoc for a huge dunk. The play even had several VMI fans on their feet while The Citadel band was going crazy.
That seemed like a huge momentum swing for The Citadel, but after a timeout Brown hit two more threes to make it 72-70. But there was Van Scyoc again to answer with a three of his own. A late Harris three-point play would ultimately put a cap on the game for the Bulldogs as the Keydets late threes stopped falling and the Bulldogs came away with a surprise win.
Groselle was a beast down low, but that was a given coming into this year. If The Citadel can get solid contributions from the likes of Harris and Van Scyoc then this may be a team that can look forward to a much better season.
VIRGINIA MILITARY INSTITUTE 0-1 (0-0) -- R. Glasgow 4-10 0-0 11; S. Okoye 5-15 2-2 14; B. Brown 7-15 1-2 22; D. Covington 6-11 3-4 15; N. Gore 2-4 2-2 8; T. Marshall 0-4 0-0 0; G. Stephenson 2-5 0-0 4; P. Anglade 1-3 0-0 2; J. Carr 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 27-68 8-10 76.
THE CITADEL 1-0 (0-0) -- M. Groselle 9-11 3-4 21; M. Harris III 3-7 12-13 19; M. Van Scyoc 5-10 6-8 18; C. Bray 3-5 0-1 8; D. Setzekorn 3-5 0-0 8; L. Miller 2-8 2-2 6; A. Moore 1-3 0-0 2; J. Jenkins 0-1 0-0 0; S. Elmore 1-1 0-0 2; Q. Marshall 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 27-54 23-28 84.
Three-point goals: VMI 14-37 (S. Okoye 2-4; J. Carr 0-1; N. Gore 2-4; R. Glasgow 3-8; B. Brown 7-14; T. Marshall 0-4; G. Stephenson 0-2), CITA 7-19 (C. Bray 2-3; M. Harris 1-4; L. Miller 0-4; D. Setzekorn 2-2; Q. Marshall 0-1; M. Van Scyoc 2-5); Rebounds: VMI 31 (D. Covington 9), CITA 35 (M. Groselle 15); Assists: VMI 17 (R. Glasgow 4), CITA 18 (M. Harris 9); Total Fouls -- VMI 24, CITA 10; Fouled Out: VMI-N. Gore; CITA-None.