Shots Don't Fall For Graves, Dudley

GREENSBORO, N.C. --- When the shots stopped falling for William Graves and his Greensboro Dudley team, the game was essentially over. Dudley suffered its first loss of the season Wednesday to Greensboro Day, 70-54, in the title game of the Little Four Invitational in front of an overflow crowd at the Greensboro Coliseum Special Events Center.

Graves came out firing in the first quarter, showing his soft touch on a step-back mid-range jumper and following that up by making his first two three-point attempts. When Dudley took a 22-15 lead early in the second quarter, Graves had 12 points – but it was all downhill from there.

Day closed the half on a 15-5 run, to take a 30-27 lead into the locker room. Whatever Dudley coach David Price said at halftime didn't work. Day dominated the third quarter, putting together a 21-6 run out of the break for a 51-33 lead that put the game out of reach.

"It all started happening at the end of the first half – when you're not making those shots there's not a whole lot you can do," said Price, whose team is now 9-1 on the season. "It's more about being consistent on defense and hitting the offensive boards. You get down, you've got to chase and do some things you don't want to do."

By spreading out on the offensive end, Day was able to neutralize Dudley's height advantage and had a field day taking them off the dribble from the perimeter.

For Graves, it was a second half he'd likely rather forget. After a 5-of-10 start from the field and 12 first-half points, he ended the game with 14 points on 6-of-20 shooting. And after hitting his first two three pointers, he missed his next seven, for a 2-of-9 evening beyond the arc.

"Will is our go-to guy and he had some good looks," Price said. "He had shots – I thought he had some tough misses."

And when Graves is missing, and the team's defense is as porous as it was Wednesday night, a loss is inevitable.

"Will's always been a solid player," Price added. "The one difference [this year] is we lean more on his shoulders."

Graves is a unique prospect at 6-6 and about 240 pounds. He's a perimeter player with the bulk of a post player.

On defense, you'll find him on the perimeter tracking the opposing team's guards instead of battling on the blocks or looming as a shotblocker. As a result, he's rarely in the mix for defensive rebounds.

On offense, while he posted up a few times, he spends most sets outside the paint, flashing at the elbow or running the baseline. There's little double that he can shoot from the perimeter, even though a good number of his shots rimmed out Wednesday, but he's often content with pulling up for a jump shot rather than attacking the basket (as evident by zero trips to the foul line in this game). He does have a good knack on the offensive boards, and five of his seven rebounds on the game were on the offensive end.

Graves received All-Tournament honors postgame, but this performance was not on par with the 25 points and 10 rebounds he posted in the semifinals.

"Sometimes you just don't make shots," Price concluded.

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