"Inside of every problem lies an opportunity." - Robert Kiyosaki
Game #9-248: Long Island Blackbirds at Quinnipiac BobcatsJanuary 5, 2013 3:00 pm
TD Banknorth Sports Center
HAMDEN, Conn. - Quinnipiac freshman James Ford, Jr. probably prepared for Saturday's game with Long Island like he did for every other one this season, complete
with an elbow sleeve with a pad on his right arm.
But in 11 of the Bobcats' first 12 contests this season, Ford never had to show that sleeve off to the world, he stayed in his warm-ups as an unused sub. The lone exception was a Dec. 21 game at Albany where Ford got seven minutes of run, making a #superhoop.
But two more games - both losses - had gone by since then and there was no reason for the crowd at the TD Bank Center to know who the hell Ford was, they had never actually seen him in action. Well, except for cheering at the end of the bench and giving some pretty quality high-fives to his teammates, of course.
To be honest, Ford had a great view of some pretty bad basketball for Quinnipiac so far this season. Expected to contend in the NEC, the Bobcats had lost five of six home games, the last being the most painful, a 63-61 loss to St. Francis Brooklyn in the conference opener, shooting 11-for-26 from the foul line
and missing so many shots from inside five feet that most of seemed like it took more effort to miss than make.
The apathy continued against a shorthanded LIU Brooklyn squad Saturday afternoon. Unforced turnovers, lazy defense, groans from the Quinnipiac crowd that had reason to be distracted. Within feet of the TD Bank Center's basketball arena is a matching hockey rink that would be sold out in a couple of hours as the fifth-ranked (yes, in the country) Bobcats looked to extend the nation's longest unbeaten streak to 14 against Harvard
(which they would and are expected to move up to No. 3 in the new polls next week). Some of the people had also watched the successful women's team roll to another victory against LIU
in the opener of this doubleheader.
Coach Tom Moore, likely toward the end of his rope, looked toward the very end of his bench and pointed at Ford, who raced to the scorer's table with 3:51 left in the first half and Quinnipiac trailing 24-20. Khalil Murphy immediately increased the LIU lead to six, but on the next possession, the ball swung to Ford, who was open a couple of feet behind the three-point arc.
Why not? Swish. The crowd and Quinnipiac bench immediately erupted as Ford clapped his hands on the way back down the court. Off an LIU miss seconds later, Ford found himself open again in almost the identical spot he hit the first #superhoop. The crowd and QU bench now
rose as the ball flew through the air. Swish again.
With more life in the TD Bank Center than I'd seen in a couple of years (maybe since the NEC final against Robert Morris three years ago), Evan Conti's putback gave the Bobcats an 8-0 run and a 28-26 lead.
Time out, LIU. Quinnipiac would never relinquish the lead.
The rest of Ford's afternoon was fairly benign. He got off three more contested #superhoops
and missed them all in 11 minutes. But the contribution of a kid that waited patiently for his chance and took it beautifully could not be overlooked.
The loss pushed LIU to 0-2 in the NEC, matching their conference loss total for each of the last two seasons, both of which ended in conference titles and NCAA Tournament berth. There is a large asterick there, the Blackbirds played the last two games without four suspended players, including three starters in reigning NEC Player of the Year in Julian Boyd, Jamal Olasewere, and C.J. Garner (reserve Troy Joseph was also banned). It originally looked like the quarter would be dismissed from school before the penalty was lessened
The four suspended players sat at the end of the bench and took some mild razzing from an emasculated Quinnipiac student section, due to the winter break (they numbered a couple dozen). Boyd will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL, which makes his suspension moot, but he was still closest to the students. The worst of the comments was probably, "How did it feel to get your ass kicked by the track team?"
Of course, ironically it was Quinnipiac who had an eerily similar situation last summer
that ended up having five players suspended, so throwing stones in glass houses here?
In a bizarre twist, there were no Quinnipiac cheerleaders or mascot, but the LIU cheerleaders made the trip from Brooklyn and parked themselves in the usual Quinnipiac spot, right in front of the student section.
The students did have a comical moment late in the contest. With 4:36 to go and Quinnipiac clinging to a two-point lead, Jamee Jackson was fouled and stepped to the free throw line. The Bobcats were 11-for-26 in a two-point loss 48 hours before, and Jackson - at 2-for-7 - was one of the main culprits. He was already 0-for-4 on Saturday (including an airball), so the students got together in a huddle, complete with a rosary, and refused to look. They assigned a young boy, presumably a younger brother, to inform them of the proceedings. Jackson magically hit both free throws, as Quinnipiac finished a somewhere near respectable 16-of-28 from the line.
In the topsy-turvy NEC that now sees both preseason favorites (Robert Morris and LIU) at 0-2, both teams can still think positively despite some rotten moments in the first two months of the season. After all, if one of the last guys on the bench can make a difference like James Ford did on Saturday afternoon, who knows what the rest of the squad can accomplish?
at QUINNIPIAC 82, LONG ISLAND 74
LONG ISLAND 5-9 (0-2) -- J. Brickman 7-10 1-1 16; B. Thompson 3-8 6-10 13; D. Griggs 1-5 2-2 5; E. Reed 5-10 3-4 15; K. Onyechi 5-8 6-8 16; B. Hucks 0-5 0-0 0; G. Martin 2-2 2-2 7; K. Murphy 1-3 0-4 2. Totals 24-51 20-31 74.
QUINNIPIAC 5-8 (1-1) -- E. Conti 5-12 2-3 15; I. Azotam 8-10 1-2 17; K. Ray 1-8 3-4 5; J. Jackson 2-3 2-6 6; D. Johnson 6-8 2-2 15; Z. Hearst 2-5 4-4 8; O. Drame 4-5 2-7 10; J. Ford Jr 2-5 0-0 6; J. Harris 0-2 0-0 0; S. Shannon 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 30-59 16-28 82.
Three-point goals: LIU 6-19 (B. Hucks 0-2; B. Thompson 1-5; J. Brickman 1-2; G. Martin 1-1; D. Griggs 1-3; E. Reed 2-6), QUIN 6-18 (D. Johnson 1-1; E. Conti 3-6; J. Harris 0-1; Z. Hearst 0-2; J. Ford Jr 2-5; K. Ray 0-2; S. Shannon 0-1); Rebounds: LIU 22 (K. Onyechi 5), QUIN 39 (E. Conti 9); Assists: LIU 11 (J. Brickman 9), QUIN 18 (Z. Hearst 4); Total Fouls -- LIU 21, QUIN 23; Fouled Out: LIU-K. Onyechi; QUIN-J. Jackson.