Game #9-100: Hampton at North Carolina-Wilmington SeahawksNovember 25, 2012 2:00 pm
We all have our reasons on why we go to countless games every year. For some of us, we only go to a handful of games, while others try to go to as many games as possible. It could be for job related reasons that we venture out to distant locations; but in the end aren't we all just looking to be entertained?
I am looking for a close and entertaining game every time I take my seat in the stands. Even when watching games where a team is searching for a Red Line Upset, I still want it to be competitive. When I went to the Charleston Classic and saw Dayton take down Auburn
I was glad that the Flyers got the win. I was still fairly bored throughout the game though, since Dayton seemingly cruised to victory. The slow pace and numerous treks to the free throw line did not help matters much either.
I was lucky last year that during the regular season, I saw a ton of close, exciting battles. This was mainly a product of seeing games from the Big South and SoCon which are fairly even competitively across the board, keeping most games close. All of that good fortune caught up to me when I went to the respective conferences' postseason tournaments and I only saw two games that were decided by less than 10 points, and neither were really that close
One team that does not lie in the realm of SoCon or Big South is the UNCW Seahawks. I knew going into the season that they were picked last in the CAA, and with the whole postseason ban due to low Academic Progress Rates that the Seahawks would have an up-and down-year. I would not write off going to Wilmington this season despite this ,as it would only be fair to give UNCW a chance. It paid off on my first visit of the year when the Seahawks won an entertaining game against UNC-Asheville
When I saw that Wilmington would be hosting a portion of the Nation of Coaches Classic
, I saw it as an opportunity to catch three games in three days. Real life intervened though, as I had to cancel going to the Friday game and a scheduling conflict would not let go Saturday when UNCW beat Wofford 49-37. Not exactly a classic by any stretch.
I did not have anything impeding me on Sunday though, and would be able to see the Seahawks host Hampton in the final game. I was able to discover a Living Social deal where I could get two for one on tickets, so I ended up saving $16. I have since found deals on Living Social for High Point and Davidson as well, so I advise all of you TMMers to check to see if there any great deals out there.
Even if I had not found the good deal, there was also a special UNCW was running where you could get in for $5 if you brought three canned goods for the Wilmington Food Bank. UNCW was doing whatever they could to fill the stands since this was Thanksgiving break. It also allowed me to sit in the lower bowl for the first time at Trask Coliseum due to the low amount of students being there.
I was not expecting much heading into the game, but what I saw was hard to watch at times. It is exciting when a team is hounding the other team defensively and is able to force a ton of turnovers, but when they are unforced, it can create some bad basketball. This was the case for the Seahawks and the Pirates in the first half. I think there were around ten travelling calls and numerous bad passes tossed out of bounds. When either team got a shot off they were mostly going in, but getting to that point was the problem.
The buckets dried up for UNCW in a big way though. With around 10 minutes left in the half, Seahawk guard Tyree Graham bricked a three which was rebounded by Keith Rendleman and he was fouled on the missed putback. Rendleman missed both free throws, but the Seahawks got the board again. Graham went onto attempt three consecutivethrees from the right wing, each missing and getting boarded by UNCW until they finally turned it over. Graham was sent to the bench on the next stoppage of play.
The Seahawks would go on an eight-minute field goal drought, but the Pirates could only manage a 17-10 lead due to their plethora of mistakes. Tanner Milson was the one Seahawk that gave them a small spark to tie the game, but a three at the buzzer from Ramon Mercado had the Pirates up 29-24 at the half.
I had one part of the equation in having a close game, but the entertainment value was way off with all of the sloppy play. The second half was not much of a reprieve either, while the unforced turnovers were ratcheted down, the foul calls went up. I cannot stand when games devolve into an endless parade to the free-throw line. It offered no flow and what made it worse was neither team could make its free throws. Hampton was gifting the game away with all the second chances they allowed late in the game, but the Seahawks would end up missing more free throws or layups.
UNCW finally took the lead with a minute to go off what was the best offensive play of the game. Freddie Jackson scored a layup after running a textbook 2-on-1 fast break with Luke Hager. Hampton drew up its play, but DeVaughn Maxwell was called for an offensive foul sending Pirate coach Edward Joyner into a rant that got him T'd up. UNCW of course, went onto miss the two free throws and rushed a shot early in the shot clock that did not go in.
Hampton had one last chance down 61-60. I say "last chance," the Pirates had 27 seconds left, but decided to bleed the clock down for the last shot. Deron Powers dribbled, then dribbled, dribbled some more, fumbled the ball around some, dribbled again, and finally launched a prayer of a runner that was after the buzzer anyways.
I guess I cannot complain too much since I was able to see a game with a last-second shot to win the game...sort of. In going to so many games in a season with many different teams, games like these are always bound to happen. I just hope they are few and far between.