ARLINGTON, Va. -- It was senior night at Bishop O'Connell High School (Arlington, Va.), and the large crowd created a festive-type atmosphere on a bone-chilling Feb. 13 in Arlington,Va. The Knights fully expected victory for the partisan home crowd, but Anthony Cowan of St. John's (Washington, D.C.), the 2016 Maryland commit, had a different mindset for the outcome of this game.
St. John's would win this matchup, 80-70, with the outstanding junior scoring 40 points, handing out three assists while also providing five rebounds, two steals and only one turnover. From the opening tip, this was a hard-fought game with momentum teetering between the two talented squads. It would ultimately come down to who could find some rhythm shooting the ball, and which team had the fewest number of mistakes.
Cowan set the tone early, hitting 5-7 shots, including two 3-pt FG attempts in the first quarter and for the remainder of the game never looked back. With Cowan at the point handling the Cadets, St. John's transition game was working smoothly and efficiently. On different occasions, Cowan made O'Connell look bad with his excellent crossover dribble moves, which had the crowd awing in disbelief, as well as his initial first step explosion blowing by a talented Knights team.
Following an O'Connell second quarter timeout, coach Joey Wootten decided to drop back into a 1-3-1 zone, which would morph into a 2-3, depending where Cowan was on the court. With swarming zones and double-teams on Cowan, O'Connell would force the Cadets to beat them with other weapons. Well, at least, that was the plan.
But Cowan is very comfortable on the court. He is calm, cool and never gets too up or down on himself. He sees everyone on the court, and on this night, he simply chose to spread out the offense and smartly throw over the zone to create open looks for his teammates. It seemed as if St. John's had practiced quite a bit for the zone look prior to the contest. The Cadets led at halftime, 42-36, mostly due to Cowan's play.
Cowan's efforts were dominating and needed if the Cadet's were to win the game. Cowan's stat sheet only shows three assists and at first glance his stats appear to be almost self serving. But that is not the case as Cowan made every effort to distribute the ball to open teammates for easy looks. He did not receive much help, however, as sharp passes were seen brushing off fingertips or going through the hands of fellow Cadets for a large portion of the evening. He could have easily had 8-10 assists if they held on.
When watching Cowan, there was a feeling of a bit of deja vu at O'Connell Feb. 13, taking one back to last season. One can't help but notice some similarities in the games of Cowan and Melo Trimble. Cowan is an excellent leader on the court, taking command of his teammates when needed. Always making sure everyone is on the right page and playing as a unit.
His basketball IQ is excellent. Not a super-quick, fast-twitch athlete, what quicks he lacks Cowan makes up with intensity and smarts. His objective is to get to his spot before the opponent and he accomplishes this time after time. His jump shot was textbook in its form and accuracy. His handle was very tight as he was stripped of the ball only once.
With the excellent quickness and height advantage of his opponent, 6-2 Ako Adams, guarding him all night, he was able to perform at the highest level and persevere. And Cowan's expression never changed and he was never rattled, as proven with his five critical free throws to put the game away in the fourth quarter.
With such a performance, it was difficult to find many flaws in his game. Being a junior gives Cowan additional time to work on his defense, as O'Connell was able to dribble past him occasionally. And become more consistent with all facets in his game. Cowan will provide the Terps with an excellent presence, which is needed in the hostile environments provided by B1G Ten opponents.
Cowan Spoils Senior Night at O'Connell
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