Game #9-131: Coker at North Carolina-Wilmington SeahawksDecember 5, 2012 8:00 pm
With the end of semester approaching and exams on the horizon for most schools, it is becoming the part of the season that I dread. The games over Winter break can be some good match-ups, but the usual atmosphere is really diminished. Students are away from campus, you will be lucky to get a pep band or even a smattering of cheerleaders and a lot of times the mascot might be hibernating.
I am going to enjoy the games in this final week or so even when it is a match-up with a team from Division II like the Coker Cobras. When UNC-Wilmington originally scheduled Coker, the fans were none too pleased. They had not faced a non-DI opponent since 1996 when they played Alaska-Fairbanks in the Top of the World Classic, and 1992 was the last time the Seahawks intentionally scheduled a non-DI.
I had some familiarity with Coker since they were in the first game I saw after buying Coastal Carolina season tickets. The Cobras went on to crush CCU for my only Black Line Upset
that I have ever seen. That was four years ago and all of those players are long gone, but I at least knew going in that Coker would most likely put up a respectable effort. That is more than I can say for some other games
I have been to this season.
I am not sure why, but the game time was at 8 p.m., giving me a chance to go out to eat beforehand. I relied upon a co-worker who lives in Wilmington to choose a place and we settled on a pretty good sushi spot. I noticed that sake was half off on Wednesdays so I had to take them up on that deal. I wonder what a sake bomb with BLAPP would taste like.
I was in no real hurry to get to the arena, I knew the attendance would be light and parking would be pretty easy. I caught the first few minutes on the radio and entered the arena with UNCW up 10-4. As I figured, the crowd was very sparse in the general seating, but there was a strong student section as they filled their half of the lower bowl.
The Seahawks' star player Keith Rendleman was already asserting his dominance as it was plain to see that the Cobras had no answer for him, especially with no one above 6-foot-6 in their regular rotation. Coker remained very feisty though and trimmed the lead back to two while Rendleman was on the bench. His time off the court would be short lived, and a succession of Cobra turnovers would give the home team a burst and lead to a Rendleman strip and dunk on the other end.
The first half flew by as it seemed like the officials had somewhere they needed to be. There were only eight total fouls called in the half and just two on UNCW. The Seahawks were cruising along with a 12-point lead nearing the end of the half, but Coker scored the final seven points to cut it to 27-22 and give some hope for a Black Line Upset.
The Cobras scored the first bucket of the second half and were close to tying or taking the lead. I was secretly rooting for the Cobras because recapping a Black Line Upset would probably make for a more interesting read than a typical blowout of a non-DI opponent. Rendleman foiled my plans of a big-time upset as he continued to dominate. Rendleman's Achilles heel has been foul trouble in the past, but without the Cobras having a frontcourt, there were no chances of him riding the pine for too long tonight.
The co-worker I had met before the game asked me if I thought Rendleman was an NBA talent. I assured him I am no NBA scout, but he has had comparisons to Kenneth Faried in the past and he does have an undeniable motor. I figured he would at least get a look after this upcoming year from a few teams.
Coker did not have much of a response after a Rendleman seven-point run. The scoring stalled and interest started to wane in the stands since the Seahawks had a comfortable double-digit lead. The second half went just as quick as the first. UNCW glided to a 15-point win in the end. The game only lasted an hour and forty minutes in probably one of the fastest games of the year.
UNCW really used this as a tune-up game after a close loss to Marshall over the weekend and a trip coming up to Georgia Tech. It did not reveal anything anyone didn't already know about the Seahawks. They have a solid D and have trouble shooting the ball, while they really rely on Rendleman to carry them. Getting consistency from any other player has been nearly impossible. One game it will be Cedrick Williams, the next Criag Ponder, and even tonight Tanner Milson had a strong showing. If UNCW could ever get solid contributions every night from these players, they could surprise some teams in the CAA.