The evening began with a malfunctioning scoreboard and the use of Flip Cards to track the score, an air-horn for a buzzer and an announcer counting down the shot clock. Once the game started, 10 minutes late, it appeared the Titans were in some hypnotic trance as they fell behind 25-3 with 9:15 left in the first half.
Call me crazy but I blame the slow start on whoever is responsible for getting the scoreboard operating. According to some in the know, furlough days were the cause as no one was there to test the equipment but, come on, show some pride and get to work a little early in case there are problems.
Bryce Webster had only four points in the game but his first two were probably the biggest of the night. Down 25-3, Webster finally broke the seal and propelled the Titans to a 30-12 advantage to end the first half. Very surprised to see he had only one rebound but, trust me, his presence was felt on the defensive side of the ball. He as the only one who could match up well with New Mexico State's 6-11 Hamidu Rahman. Could have been one game, but I was very impressed with the 255 pound NMSU center. Very athletic, strong and only a sophomore. I would not be surprised to see him in the NBA one day.
Okay, back to the Titans.
Aaron Thompson was again the Player of the Game. He started out a step slow on defense and just didn't seem to be there but he came on with a vengeance with great three-point shooting (thank-you St. Anthony) and some nice passing. I don't know what's going on with this kid, but if he keeps it up, we will make a run for the title.
Sure he handles the ball in a reckless manner sometimes, but all is forgiven in a win. Bottom line is Gerard Anderson is a beast. He had only one board in the first half but picked up 8 huge rebounds in the second, The Titans ended the game with a difference-making 45-33 advantage. And yes, Gerard also had three or four nice dunks, but it's his defense that sets him apart.
Would be remiss in not mentioning Jer'Vaughn Johnson right now. JV had one of the two double-doubles (hey, where were the free burgers?!) with 10 rebounds and 12 points. Despite the numbers I feel his best days are ahead of him. Tremendous potential who played solid defense. Just needs to handle the ball a little better. He will go through some up-and-downs but once he settles in, good luck to his foes.
Due to foul trouble (WAC refs are just as bad as Big West refs) Chin had to play many minutes at the four but he did a commendable job in zone covering Robert Lumpkins and Rahman. Through three games, I believe the sophomore is ahead of where I expected him to be. Another kid with tremendous upside. He will likely struggle in future games but he has great size for a wing and simply knows how to play.
Guisse gave the best 11 minutes you could expect. Good hands on the rebounds and played with a ton of energy.
Streeter is another player who is doing the job but you still feel like he is going to explode one game. You would think that 20 points and 10 assists is the definition of 'explode' but something tells me he will have better games this year. There is little doubt he is the key to this team.
3-0 is nice. Beating UCLA and NMSU back-to-back is something I never thought I would see. I am really liking this team and my main worry about not being able to score against a zone has been put on the back-burner, for now.
Yes, with Sean Williams, D.J. Shelton and Andre Harde in street clothes and an impressive recruiting class of De'Andre Haskins and Isiah Umipig, the future looks bright.
But right now ain't bad either. Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone!