Keys to the game (see above). Apparently all had to work to open the door to the semifinal round of playoff basketball:
1. Marquis the Marquis of old (Grade: F)….closely guarded with "help" within 5 feet of our star guard at all times, Marquis was doubled – if not triple-teamed – every time he came within 20 feet of the basket. He could do no better than sink 1 of 13 attempts from the field and that one was from deep in the last minute of play. It was clear from the opening tip that Army wasn’t going to let Hall beat them. Hall’s three boards, five assists and 3 turnovers were as expected. Without a guard to pick-up the slack (DB, PS, Rk, and MS combined for an anemic 3 for 19), the team had to look for an inside presence. There they found it – just not enough – from Anderson, Carrington, and Adams who combined for 12 for 24. Named a starter for the first time in his collegiate career, John Adams responded with the the game of his life, pulling down 11 boards to go along with his 12 points in 34 minutes of play. The highly charged freshman put life into the game and quickly became a crowd favorite. Close to being a "bull in the china shop," you got the sense that this 6’8" bruiser could be "special" in the days to come – a true power forward.
2. Don’t fall behind at the half (Grade: F)….It happened again! LU canned just 6 field goals in the first 20 minutes of action and trailed at the intermission. That makes 16 buckets in the first 20 minutes of their last three games (16 in 60 minutes)! Certainly not a "come back" team in ’08-’09, the Mountain Hawks have trailed at the half in 8 of our 9 PL losses. Legs/Conditioning? Heart? Coaching/Halftime adjustments? Answers must be found. Luckily, we have 8 months to look for them.
3. Defend the "3" (Grade C-)……Army went 6 for 18 (.333) falling just short of their PL .343 average. We entered the contest allowing .341 shots to fall from beyond the arc. Cleveland Richard, their top 3 pointer percentage shooter (.440) was given a few too many clean looks from outside. He hit on three.
4. Keep Zahir out of foul trouble (Grade A)…..We got what we wanted: 28+ minutes and another double-double (14 pts / 13 boards).
5. Exert our influence on the boards (Grade B-)….We out-rebounded the Black Knights 45-29 and pulled down an incredible 20 off the offensive glass! The only trouble is that effort resulted in just 7 second chance points.
6. Passionate play (Grade A)….Everyone played as if it could be their last game. It was for our three seniors. Couldn’t have asked for more.
The better team won tonight with a stifling defense and just enough shooting. Yet, you can’t help but wonder what might have been had we hit just one three in the first 59 minutes of play or sank the front end of three missed "one and one" opportunities. When it comes to free throws, you can’t blame the refs. They sent us to the line 26 times to Army’s 15. He hit on just 17 attempts.
So, it back to the drawing board – a year wiser and more experienced – with hopes of a strong incoming class and success in ’09-’10.