Orane Chin was, by far, the standout in this game. In addition to key rebounds, key baskets and good defense, he also assisted on two of the biggest plays of the game.
With four minutes left in a tight game, Isiah Umipig brings the ball up, is double-teamed, so he passes to Chin at the right elbow where is is quickly met by a Cajun defender so he passes to D.J. Seeley, who is wide open on the wing and Seeley drains a three. This exact play occurs 30 seconds later. Just two clutch plays for all Titans involved and great adjustments from the coaching staff.
But the real story of this game was the numerous fouls. Combined, 58 fouls were called, 32 for the Titans and 26 for the Cajuns. There was never any flow to the game and both teams were awful at the free throw line. Burton was seen numerous times very frustrated by the calls, especially ones by Omondi Amoke and John Underwood, but the referees were calling ticky-tack fouls on both ends of the floor.
The real problem was our players refused to adjust to the calls. It was obvious that these refs did not like hand-checking but our players refused to listen. Why we insist on playing defense with our hands is something we will need to fix. For this reason the Cajuns, just like Nicholls the night before, dominated the paint. The Titans were out-scored 38-24. Big ouch.
The good news? There is a ton of room for improvement. Talented post players Amoke and Underwood played a combined for just 11 minutes. Amoke simply got too frustrated by the calls and Underwood would have benefitted from playing the night before to rid the cobwebs but never got into the game. Underwood was very active and you can literally see his potential, just needs to get the time.
In addition, Sedric Martin played 5 seconds before picking up a foul and was immediately pulled, rightfully so. That left Andre Hardy, Bernard Webb and Chin to to fill the vacancy at the post. Chin was amazing and the best thing was that he learned to play defense with his body and only had three fouls in 37 minutes. Without him, we lose this game by 10.
Hardy had two quick fouls in the first half and was pulled. He had one foul the rest of the way. His play, however, was a roller coaster ride. Because of the fouls his hands were tied in playing any sort of effective defense. UL's Kadeem Coleby easily dominated inside. Hardy also missed some easy layups in the second half but he did look good on a few rebounds and this was by far his best game of the season.
Kwame Vaughn is another player who has not performed to his ability this tournament. He had four turnovers, two or three which were charging fouls just going too deep after the defense converged. And because of foul trouble, he only played 18 minutes.
One silver lining from this game is that Vaughn, Amoke and Underwood are all very well rested which should benefit the team when they play Houston Baptist in the third and final game. A win gets the Titans a tournament sweep and it's been a very, very long time since that has happened.
"This was one of the greatest road wins I've ever had in my coaching career," said veteran Head Coach Bob Burton. "The kids endured a lot of adversity but we kept fighting.
"The number of fouls say a lot. We can't keep winning with Orane and Seeley and Zeke (Umipig) playing 37 or more minutes. We've got to get more out of Omondi (Amoke) and Kwame (Vaughn). And John Underwood gets 5 fouls in 6 minutes."