Hate to do this, especially after such an impressive and potentially pivotal win, but I’m going to go with the bullet point recap today of the Flying Dutchmen’s 58-48 win over Rider, because I’m up to my eyeballs in other work and I know if I wait on this it’ll be Thursday or so before I post it.
The bullet point recap will also have to suffice because my plans to go to the game fell through for a bunch of stupid reasons yesterday and I didn’t get to actually watch the game—either in person, online or on television—for the first time in quite a while. Thanks, Comcast, for blocking Rider from offering the feed and to Channelsurfing.net for never finding a way to offer it but offering VMI take on something called a Central Pennsylvania College! That is fantastic! (These are all very weird rantings coming from someone who used to change channels with something called a cable box, Google it D.C.)
Anyway, I hope to catch your main man and mine Mo Cassara later in the day for a more in-depth Q&A, so stay tuned to the Twitters in case that comes about. Thanks for your patience and I promise you the December recaps will be much better.
—This was a very encouraging win. The Dutchmen mounted runs of 10-0 and 8-0 in taking a 16-point lead in the first half and forced sharp-shooting Rider to miss its first 11 shots from 3-point land. It was unreasonable to expect the Dutchmen to dominate like that for 40 minutes, and the Broncs stormed back in a hurry over a 14-minute stretch spanning the halves in which they shot 50 percent from the field (12-of-24, including 5-of-9 from beyond the arc) and outscored the Dutchmen 31-15 to tie the game at 39.
Rider had a chance to take the lead just beyond the midway point of the second half, but after Patrick Mansell missed a 3-pointer, Charles Jenkins hit a driving layup—almost but not quite drawing the charge in the process—to begin a 13-2 run that included two huge 3-pointers from Shemiye McLendon and a resounding dunk by Greg Washington that completed the surge and gave the Dutchmen a 52-41 lead with 5:31 left. The Dutchmen were never threatened again.
—It’s folly to read too much into non-conference results, but it cannot be underestimated how valuable these last two wins have been for the Dutchmen, whose second half comeback Friday and ability to remain upright despite a flurry from Rider in the second half Monday is proof this team is learning how to win under a new coach and developing both resiliency and a killer instinct all at the same time. Things felt pretty disastrous a week ago, but the Dutchmen have got to be feeling good going into the first game of the season that really counts Saturday against Towson.
Of course, Rider looked ready to win the MAAC when it beat USC by 20 in California and followed that up with double-digit wins over TCU and Loyola Marymount in a tournament in Massachusetts, but now the Broncs have lost two straight and coach Tommy Dempsey sounds despondent. So things can change just as quickly in the other direction—something Cassara is no doubt reminding the Dutchmen of today.
—Three days after Cassara came up with a winning combination in pot luck supper style, the Dutchmen won in far more conventional fashion Monday. For the first time this season, all five Dutchmen starters played at least 30 minutes, which allowed Cassara to pick his spots for the rest of the rotation—freshmen McLendon and Stephen Nwaukoni and sophomore Yves Jules. McLendon, in particular, maximized his minutes by draining those two key 3-pointers and scoring all eight of his points as the Dutchmen pulled away in the second half.
Among the starters, the most encouraging performances were delivered by Washington and Dwan McMillan, each of whom set a season-high in minutes played. Washington had eight points, six rebounds, three blocks and three fouls in 34 minutes—a steady and unspectacular line, but more than enough for the Dutchmen. If Washington can bottle that and uncork it every night, he’ll be an asset all season long.
McMillan, who looked so lost on both sides of the ball in the first two games in Puerto Rico, has improved dramatically in a week. He had 10 points, four rebounds, three assists, three steals, two turnovers—an old-fashioned box score stuffer—and was lauded by the WRHU team for the efficient way he ran the offense. He also committed a smart foul at the end of the first half, when he gave the one foul the Dutchmen had to give and forced Rider to reset its offense at half court with under two seconds to play. The Broncs could only get off a long and rushed 3-point attempt. He clearly will not give up playing time to Brad Kelleher (11 days left until he’s freed) without a fight.
—Jenkins (a game-high 19 points on 6-of-16 shooting) didn’t have a classic Jenkins game, but he followed up another quiet first half with a handful of clutch shots during a 14-point second half. Mike Moore didn’t do much offensively (four points on 1-of-7 shooting) but pulled down a team-high 10 boards, the second time this season he’s reached double digits in rebounds. Imes pulled down just four boards and wasn’t as beastly as he was Friday, but he scored eight points on 4-of-5 shooting and committed just two fouls in 34 minutes. He has played at least 30 minutes in each of his last four games after playing in as many as 20 minutes in a game just once last year.
—This zone defense is for real. Check out Rider’s points per game before last night: 67-80-77-76-73-60. Rider shot just 33.9 percent overall and 21.4 percent from 3-point land, well below their norms of nearly 50 percent in both categories. The Dutchmen also forced Rider into 16 turnovers.
The Dutchmen have allowed 63 points or fewer in their last four games, only their third such streak in the last 10 seasons. Last night marked the second time this year the Dutchmen have held a team to more than 30 points below its season high (Western Kentucky scored 98 against Saint Joseph’s a week before scoring 62 against the Dutchmen).
3 STARS OF THE GAME (vs. Rider, 11/29)
3: Dwan McMillan
2: Charles Jenkins
1: Greg Washington
Charles Jenkins 16
Mike Moore 6
Dwan McMillan 4
David Imes 4
Greg Washington 3
Shemiye McClendon 2
Stephen Nwaukoni 1