Game #9-201: North Greenville at Presbyterian Blue HoseDecember 12, 2012 7:00 pm
The challenge for this past week had been to come up with our favorite trap game. Yet in my travels of college basketball, I really do not have a trap game that would work that well. Most Red Line Upsets I can remember have actually come in November. The only RLU I have been to that was a classic trap game was College of Charleston's home win against Tennessee, which I have already written about here. And I also remember following C of C's trap game win against North Carolina. College of Charleston has had a number of these types of games, so I felt it was best for my teammate Joe Wright to handle the challenge for this week
. But the one thing that comes to mind in trap games is that we sometimes lose those games as well. I remember as a High Point fan our soccer team giving up two Black Line Upsets in a two year period. And that was in large part fueled by our team not being prepared to play the game. So the question was how could Presbyterian do in this game against Division II North Greenville just after finals had concluded?
Trap game circumstances can be the same regardless of who is playing them and at what level. The crowd at Presbyterian was very low with school no longer in session. I was able to park right across the street from the main entrance of Presbyterian's Templeton Center, only about 50 feet from the door. The high school game I attended the day before had slightly more people, and that was not a particularly well attended high school game. And most of the fans here did not arrive until right around or after tip-off. You got the sense that this would not be a big game. And that is often how schools above the Red Line lose to us in trap games. They think the other team is so bad that they can take the game for granted a walk away automatically for a win. But that is what makes a Guarantee Game not always guaranteed. And our schools can lose these games just as easily. If the non-Division I team wants to play more than the Division I team, they will often win.
I saw Newberry play somewhat competitive against Campbell
, and Matt Cayuela saw Coker competitive with UNC Wilmington
. But North Greenville was not expected to be as good. They are a real NCAA Division II team, not a NCCAA team like Toccoa Falls
or a USCAA team like Johnson & Wales
. They are also better than St. Andrews, a team that dropped from Division II to NAIA
. But North Greenville looks to be one of the worst teams in Conference Carolinas. North Greenville entered the game 4-3, with one of those wins being a 31 point win over the infamous Toccoa Falls as well as a narrow six point win over USCAA opponent Warren Wilson. But the Crusaders were also thrashed on the road by 28 points at Barton and by 25 points at home against Belmont Abbey. North Greenville is credible for a non-Division I opponent, but barely. Certainly any Division I team should crush them, even a rebuilding Presbyterian team. Sophomore guard Eric Washington had returned from injury, so the Blue Hose should be more rested and ready than they were against Toccoa Falls. But North Greenville, a school of less than 2,000 students (actually more than Presbyterian) 20 miles north of downtown Greenville in a rural mountain area, would come out motivated. This was just another game for Presbyterian, but it was a big one for North Greenville.
Early on, the game started out how you expected it would. With the game tied 4-4 two minutes in, PC went on an 11-3 run to lead by eight at the first media timeout. The Crusaders could not stop the combination of Jordan Downing and Khalid Mutakabbir, and it seemed that Presbyterian would have an easy win. While it was not as pronounced as against Toccoa Falls, there were many mismatches that the Blue Hose could exploit. Presbyterian seemed to be settled in, without much to worry about after the conclusion of finals. But that became the problem. Presbyterian was too relaxed, and players were substituted like it was a blowout. Seldom used Blue Hose Matthew Citron and Austin Anderson played a large chunk of minutes just over midway through the first half. This limited the Blue Hose options on offense, and North Greenville came back and knocked down multiple three pointers. And suddenly at the last media timeout of the first half North Greenville held a four point lead. Presbyterian coach Gregg Nibert did not call any timeouts against Toccoa Falls, but he had to use some here to get his team focused again. The Blue Hose responded by taking a two point lead again late in the first half. NGU tied the game and appeared to have made a potential and one to take the lead when the refs were talked into changing the call to a double dribble on the Crusaders. NGU coach Chad Lister could not believe the call reversal, and had to settle for a tie at the half.
Presbyterian came out in the second half determined this time, and would not take North Greenville for granted. Big PC forward William Truss overpowered the undersized Crusaders and dominated the paint. PC hit their shots, while North Greenville's once hot outside shooting cooled off. It seemed that was it for North Greenville. Once they woke up Presbyterian, they could not stop anything from the Blue Hose. Unless they could start catching fire again from behind the arc, the game would end up a blowout as expected.
But North Greenville did indeed catch fire from behind the arc again. Tyshawn Patterson resumed his hot touch to scorch the Blue Hose for a game high 30 points. After Presbyterian led by 16 points with 11 minutes remaining, North Greenville once again came back. Foul trouble by Truss and more lax PC play meant for fewer mismatches and more NGU opportunities. And with three minutes left North Greenville somehow tied the game again! With a little more extra effort, North Greenville had a Black Line Upset waiting to happen. This could be especially true if the Blue Hose came out deflated after being tied again. But that did not happen, and the star players on Presbyterian stepped up when needed. Khalid Mutakkabir hit two big superhoops late as did Downing to give Presbyterian a six point lead again with under a minute to play. And that was finally enough to hold off the Division II Crusaders, as Presbyterian got the 91-83 win. At this point Presbyterian will take any win even if it is not a very good win. But Gregg Nibert will have to get his young team to play defense just like Al'Lonzo Coleman and Josh Johnson did to get the Blue Hose back to playing competitive again.
What we learned is that it is not just teams above the Red Line that have to avoid trap games. Matt Cayuela decided to skip a Campbell game that night against Rio Grande, thinking that it would not be very good basketball. As it turned out, Rio Grande outdid North Greenville by actually pulling off the Red Line Upset. UNC Asheville, who has been playing better than most teams in the conference, also had a scare this night against Lenoir-Rhyne. And despite what Matt encountered, I decided to go ahead and skip the College of Charleston game the next day to try and fix a computer. As Matt mentioned in his recap that night
, he said back to me that the CAA might rescind its offer if the Cougars lost to Anderson. Yet I had this feeling that something might happen if I stayed home. When I stay home, something always happens. And as it turns out, College of Charleston felt they could rest Andrew Lawrence with Trent Wiedeman still hurt, and get away with it against Anderson (which beat North Greenville on the road by 12 points). The Cougars were wrong, and got blown out by the Trojans of Anderson in a game Joe Wright recapped for the first Black Line Upset covered on TMM
(on a side note, there is no better nickname than Trojans for a mid-major team to fall victim to in a trap game). And Coastal Carolina also this week let that infamously bad Toccoa Falls team hang around for most of the first half before coming to their senses and blowing them out late. The point from all of this is you need to take every game seriously. When I talked about on my High Point message board about how HPU soccer improved since the loss to a NAIA team, one person responded by saying that it is hard to get up to play a game like that. But regardless of whether you are a Division I athlete or not, you should prepare for every task in life with the same rigor even if you regard that task as easy. This was officially an exhibition for North Greenville, as it was for Anderson when they beat College of Charleston and for Coker when they beat Coastal Carolina four years ago. And when you are a team like High Point in soccer was or this latest Presbyterian basketball team and every win is a struggle, you should look forward to facing a team you can crush if you set your mind to it. Presbyterian did at times this game, and not so much at others. The result was that they survived this Black Line Upset threat, while other teams regionally were not so lucky.
at PRESBYTERIAN 91, NORTH GREENVILLE 83
PRESBYTERIAN 2-7 (0-0) -- E. Washington 4-7 0-0 8; R. McTavish 3-4 2-2 9; J. Downing 8-13 0-1 19; K. Mutakabbir 9-15 3-3 23; R. Hargrave 6-8 2-2 16; W. Truss 4-6 2-3 10; A. Anderson 2-4 0-0 5; M. Citron 0-1 1-2 1. Totals 36-58 10-13 91.
Three-point goals: - , PRES 9-20 (R. Hargrave 2-2; K. Mutakabbir 2-3; J. Downing 3-7; R. McTavish 1-2; E. Washington 0-3; A. Anderson 1-3); Rebounds: , PRES 29 (R. McTavish 14); Assists: , PRES 17 (E. Washington 6); Total Fouls -- , PRES 12; Fouled Out: -; PRES-None.