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· The Ugly:
The first half of the game against San Francisco State looked bad, I mean really bad. Ugly in fact. This division two team came in and gave the Pack a run for their money, with the Pack only up by one at half. With the combination of turnovers, fouls, and missed shots, the Pack were off to a very rocky start. It seemed they couldn’t hold on to the ball, and everyone of them should thank the powers that be that San Francisco State couldn’t shoot free throws to save their lives (they made 42% in total). Coach Muss was visibly upset, pulling out players left and right, including throwing in walk-ons Charlie Tooley and Collin Weavey. I would love to see that statistics for how many substitutions were made in the first half.
· The Bad:
The first 25 minutes of the game saw the Pack unable to put the ball in the basket. There were tons of bad outside shots taken, but nobody willing to take the ball to the hole. It was an instance where Deonte Burton was missed more than usual. Just a few of his straight drives would have been much appreciated and gotten the ball rolling. Instead, the Pack continued to miss shots, miss rebounds, or give the ball up immediately after, if they did manage to rebound it.
As far as three point scoring, something the team struggled with last year, that didn’t look a whole lot better on Friday either. Don’t get me wrong, plenty were made, but I expected to see a three-point show from Marshall.
· The Good:
Okay, enough with my harsh criticism (although, get used to it if you plan on continuing to read my column). After Musselman’s halftime screaming and yelling act (I’ve heard it, it’s intense), the Pack seemed to finally pick themselves up and take control of the game. Cameron Oliver started doing the Cameron Oliver stuff that he does, and Fenner, Foster, and Ramsey all followed his lead by scoring in double digits. Sophomore Lindsey Drew didn’t end up scoring, but he added seven assists, two blocks, and two steals. Jordan Caroline added nine rebounds, and walk-on Charlie Tooley made two back-to-back three pointers at the very end of the game.
Overall, the Pack looked good. Josh Hall looks promising, as do the rest of the newcomers. Foster and Drew both look like they’ve added weight and strength, and of course, Oliver and Fenner look ready to go. When they finally got in sync, the team started to look like they did at the end of last season.
· Next Up:
The Wolf Pack play Saint Mary’s tonight at 8 p.m. in Moraga. This is the first official game of the season for both teams, and if the Pack hopes to pull out a win, they will have to play a lot better than they did last Friday. The Gaels are a ranked team, ranking 17th in the Associated Press poll and 19th in this week’s USA Today Coaches poll. They finished 21-10 last season, and made it to the quarterfinals of the NIT. This will be a hard team for the Pack to beat, especially as a road game. However, if they win, it’ll be a great start to the season. Regardless, this game should be a good preview of what this season will be like.
The last (and only) time the Pack and the Gaels met was 2006, and the Pack won 76-58. I guarantee that tonight’s game will be much closer, but hopefully the Pack can pull out another win. This will also be a meeting with former head coach David Carter, who is an assistant coach for the Gaels.
The game won’t be on TV, but will be streaming on SMCGaels.com and TheW.tv. The game will also be on TuneIn radio. This should be an excellent match up, so I suggest getting a glimpse of the game before the Pack plays at home on Monday.
· Scoreboard Love:
In all of the excitement of the win last Friday, and tonight’s upcoming game, I almost forgot about the amazingness that was the new scoreboard in Lawlor. It’s possible that I have never been so in love with a machine. I’ll admit that I’m not sure how I feel about the score part being in a circular display yet, but the video part of the scoreboard is beyond beautiful. With a much higher level of audio and video quality than last year, I may be raving about this scoreboard all season long. And, of course, a shout out to the new court, which is also beautiful. I’m especially a fan of the #BattleBorn and the Est. 1874. It helps that there’s no longer an awful dead spot on the court on the side of the locker room entrance.
· An Afterthought:
As mentioned last week, this season’s walk-ons will play an important role with only nine eligible scholarship players. Coach Muss played them in the exhibition game, both in the beginning and the end. In the beginning, he was hoping to get a spark off of them, and in the end, he was letting them get some playing time they wouldn’t see without such a great lead. However, as RJG’s Chris Murray mentioned last season, the walk-ons do not have their names on the back of their jerseys. Because we’ve seen so much passion and effort from them already, I vote we start a petition that this changes. Ultimately, as David Cunningham stated last year, it’s the name on the front that matters. But come on Pack, let’s give them what they deserve.