Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Resolutions

I'll wrap up last night's game at George Washington and conclude with a summary of how the 2014 portion of this year went, and preview the upcoming conference slate.

First, last night's game was disappointing because, in a complete reversal of the Virginia Tech game, the effort was there defensively but we simply could not hit the broad side of a barn when we shot the ball. We shot 21 of 71 overall (<30%) and a miserable 8 of 36 from three (22%). QJ in particular had a disastrous shooting night - 3 of 21 from the field and 1 of 11 from range (he also did not get the start, which was peculiar). That .143 mark is his third-lowest single-game shooting percentage when taking at least ten shots (Clemson and Yale last season were the others). His shooting touch has been so off this season in general and it's quite honestly inexplicable. Actually he was solid against Maryland, Navy, and Mercer, but in the past two games QJ is shooting less than 18%. You can attribute this to good defense, but judging by the shots he's taking you can see why he's doing so poorly. I counted at least four three-point attempts from 4ft or more behind the arc. Is it a trend? Probably not. Hopefully not. But it is worrisome when you're point guard can't find a consistent scoring rhythm. Notice that Rodney never had these issues last year. His stroke was always there from Game 1 to 35. That's the difference between this year's team and this one.

Anglade had a solid game with 12 points on 6 of 10 shooting and 7 rebounds. Trey, who scored 8 points and grabbed 7 boards, was the only player on the team that made more than one three pointer (he was 2 for 3). The fact that we had only two double-digit scorers, neither of which scored more than 15 is depressing. Christian Burton once again got decent playing time, and used it wisely. He hit one three, got 2 boards, an assist, and a steal. Another solid effort from the only non-scholarship player on the squad.

We can now only be thankful that this, the most grueling of non-conference schedules perhaps in the Duggar Baucom era, is done. A Military Classic in West Point, seven road games (essentially eight), and only four at Cameron is tough. Plus, four guarantee games and only two non-DI games are an oddity and put us at a net disadvantage in the W-L column. But valuable experience was gained from playing these games and conference play is all that matters. But overall, there were only two games this season in which we severely underperformed: vs UNCW and @ Navy. And I suppose you could add the first half of the Virginia Tech game. We are where we should be: 5-8, 1-1 in the SoCon. But we most certainly aren't where we could be.

Looking ahead, a trip to East Tennessee State tomorrow followed by a home game against Mercer are important. We could come out of that stretch 1-3 or 3-1, based on the erratic play we've seen so far. Ideally you need to split these two games, because after that we have a three-game road trip against SoCon powerhouse Wofford (who beat NC State earlier in the year), Furman, and UNC Greensboro. Shortly after that it's all home cooking: five straight home games from late January to early February, including El Cid, Western Carolina, and Furman. By then we will have played nine league games, so a record of 5-4 would be ideal. 6-3 is great. 4-5 at a minimum. 3-6 is not acceptable.

The good news is that there are four truly bad teams in this league that we could easily take advantage of: El Cid, Western Carolina, Furman, and Samford. These are eight games that if we take care of business we will win 90% of the time. Again, nothing is guaranteed. But if you can get through these teams then you might just have a shot to hang with the big boys. We'll see how it unfolds starting Friday.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Postgame Thoughts: @ Virginia Tech

Effort was the name of the game tonight and for the first twenty minutes it quite simply wasn't there. Virginia Tech held us to 25% shooting in the first half, including 2 of 17 (12%) from three. Add eleven turnovers and 23 points off those turnovers. We simply dug ourselves too big of a hole.

The second half was a different story. We finally started moving the ball, and most of all, hustled on defense. The Keydets forced several steals and limited themselves to only four turnovers in the second half. Unfortunately, we couldn't convert on many of the steals forced in Tech's half of the court, and finished with only 10 fast-break points, as compared with 18 for VT. Though the overall three-point stats look quite pitiful (10-39, 26%), much of that came in the disastrous first half, and we managed to convert on 8 of 22 second half 3P attempts. It just goes to show the contrast between what this team plays like and what it can be.

Individually, QJ had another awful shooting night: 4 of 18 from the field, 0 of 6 from range. He did haul in 8 rebounds and drew several fouls but this team will never elevate itself until he steps up his shooting game. Tim Marshall got another start tonight, and hit 5 of his 13 three point shots for 18 points. Despite being the leading scorer, I'd have to give the game ball to Christian Burton. Yes, the only non-scholarship player on the team leads by example through his hustle, effort, and determination. He didn't score but grabbed five boards and had an assist. If one of the least-used players on the team is showing the scholarship players and starters how the game should be played, you've got some issues to work out.

Craig had 9 points, all of which were three-pointers. Brian Brown had 10 points in 24 minutes, and Phil Anglade was a beast down low, swatting six VT shots and had a near double-double with 9 points and 9 rebounds. He certainly did all he could, as compared to Jordan Weethee, who did not score on 0-for-5 shooting, and Trey Chapman, who had as many fouls (4) as points.

An eight-day break looms ahead, and Duggar mentioned in the postgame comments that the guys will come home from Christmas early for a December 26th practice. Rightfully so, Coach Baucom railed in his comments about the lack of effort and focus in the first half, but humbly put the blame upon himself. Is it his fault? Not entirely. There's only so much he can do when players are passing to the wrong team and taking ill-advised shots down low, but it is up to the coach to ensure his team is focused and prepared to play. Tonight, for the most part, we weren't. Only midway in the second half did we realize we had a basketball game to play, and by then it was much too late.

On to George Washington, who is now 7-3 after a 77-49 destruction of Ohio tonight. Their RPI is 39th in DI, far and away better than VT, Maryland, and UNCW. If all goes as expected we will be 5-8 by the New Year, and thankfully done with this grueling non-conference schedule. SoCon play cannot get here soon enough.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Struggles of the Low-Major

While watching the UNC/UNC Greensboro game last night (which was hosted at the Coliseum by the way), I picked up on an interesting conversation between the commentators on the struggles of mid-major and low-major Division I programs. The color man noted the scheduling problems these teams face, particularly with home games.

He noted his disdain for "guarantee" games, i.e. games in which, typically, a major team hosts a low-major team and is not obligated to give them a return game in the future. This is commonplace for teams in the Big South, SoCon, SWAC, and just about every other bottom-tier conference whose institutions, needing money, play several power conference teams every year with no return game. This is simply the cycle of college basketball: major teams, who play in the toughest conferences with a stacked schedule in January and February, look to rack up easy wins and develop players against inferior teams who need the cash. The big guys get wins, the little guys get experience and money, and everyone is happy. Or are they?

There is a reasonable argument to suggest that if a low-major team cannot survive in Division I without loading non-conference schedules with guarantee games, then they shouldn't be in Division I. This idea, while insightful, is a bit anti-opportunistic. Take Texas Southern (who was mentioned in that conversation I mentioned earlier) as an example. The Tigers, who compete in the SWAC, a conference known for its APR penalties and recruiting violations, were found guilty of doing just that in 2012; they used ineligible athletes, exceeded scholarship limits, and committed "booster-related recruiting violations". They were subsequently banned from postseason play that year, but finished with a 16-2 record in the SWAC (and only 17-14 overall....go figure) to be crowned regular season champs. Last season, they followed that up with a 19-15 (12-6 SWAC) record, a conference tournament title, and an NCAA tourney berth, albeit in Dayton. And this year, the Tigers are currently 1-8 overall, and have a grand total of one home non-conference game: Lamar. Of their twelve OOC road games, seven are against Power 5 Conference teams.

This is a common trend for the SWAC and other low conferences. Alcorn State and Grambling State have two OOC home games. Mississippi Valley State has one. Arkansas-Pine Bluff has none. Not surprisingly, the SWAC is 6-74 (.075) in non-conference Division I games thus far. But despite all the losses, the conference champion is nearly guaranteed to have a winning record by March.

Although the SWAC is a bit of an extreme care, there is no doubt that all low-major conference programs face similar issues: the MEAC, WAC, America East, Sun Belt, Big South, Ohio Valley, Summit, Atlantic Sun, and, of course, the SoCon. Even with all the money gained from the guarantee games for lower schools (which might total $700-800k max, and that's only for the schools playing 90% of their OOC games on the road), the revenues aren't even close. As of 2013, Big Ten teams expended an average of $6.22 million for men's basketball. The SoCon? $1.53 million.* If you think that's crazy consider that some SWAC and Southland teams are spending as little as $500k. Larger colleges simply have massive enrollment, massive facilities, and as such they obtain exponentially more revenue from ticket sales, concessions, advertising, and media coverage. It's simply a different world over there.

VMI is playing four guarantee games this season, three of which are/were against Power 5 teams. (although the A10 might have something to say about that). Given that the payday is around $80,000, we should be pocketing upwards of $300k from these games alone. We should be thankful that our athletic budget is not so devoid of funding that we can't have home games before the New Year, but it'd be really nice to see more mid-major and low-major teams schedule in their backyard. Actually, I have no problem with a home-and-home deal between a major and a low-major as we saw last night with UNC and UNCG. Both teams benefit, and the little guy gets some much needed exposure on national television. It is, however, disappointing to see so many fellow low-majors relegated to 1-4 OOC home games/year and still often struggling to make ends meet.

Last week, after a ten-point loss at Florida State, Citadel coach Chuck Driesell was quite frank about his team's goal in coming to Tallahassee. "It gives our school a lot of money," he noted. "That’s probably the No. 1 reason I’m down here, is for the check." And as long as major programs have a fat bank account to draw funds from, it always will be about the check.

*- spending figures accorindg to BB State

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Postgame Thoughts: Marist

We took care of business today with a win over the now 1–9 Marist Red Foxes. The effort was most certainly there, and much improved from last Tuesday's debacle at Navy (although that's not saying much). The performance was not dazzling, but not disappointing either. Regardless, we head into exam break with a 5–6 record, which, in all honesty, is where we should be.

The 55 three point attempts we took today was one shy of a Division I school record. Incredibly, 73% of all our field goal attempts were from behind the arc, of which we made 35%. Three of our starters took double-digit 3P attempts, and Marshall (who got his second career start) made 6 of 16, including four in a row early in the second half. Brian made only 3 of 10, and QJ hit 6 of 17. Presumably this is what Duggar wants. The only problem is that after our first half and early-second half three point barrage, Marist's guards (in particular, James Griffin and KJ Lee, who played the entire game) starting defending the arc much better, but our offense was slow to react. Instead of attacking the paint in retaliation, we continue to shoot threes. It didn't cost us against Marist, but it may very well cost us against any team in the upper half of the SoCon. Despite the lack of inside shooting, we do finish with a modest 20 points in the paint. Our lack of an inside game can be nullified only as long as our three point shooting is on point.

As a team, Marist got to the line more, but couldn't shoot well from the charity stripe. Creating contact is another area of the game that guys like Phil Anglade and Jordan Weethee need to work on. To Phil's credit, though, he did have two monster slams early on that got the team going. We also outrebounded Marist, the bulk of which came on the offensive glass; this explains our 18-6 advantage in second-chance points, a must have come conference play. Marist is much taller than us, as are most teams in the country, so it just goes to show that rebounding is 100% effort and hustle.

Phil hustled, and for that reason found himself all over the stat sheet - 6 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 steals. Four fouls too, but that's nothing unexpected. Jarid also hauled in 11 rebounds, but did foul out in 24 minutes.

Trey Chapman, coming off the bench, contributed 10 points, 6 boards, and 6 assists in twenty or so quality minutes. Perhaps he is more comfortable not starting, or it was just his night. Either way, I liked what I saw from Chap. Eleby also came off the bench to score 9 on 3-of-6 shooting. The team turned it over twelve times, but hey, at least we're spreading the wealth: no player had more than two turnovers, which is a positive. It is, however, a disappointment that we allowed 77 points to a team scoring less than 55 PPG, 345th best in DI. Anglade is giving it his all, but he and Watson must remain disciplined when opponents attack the rim, or they will be shooting FT's all game long.

We should keep in mind here that Marist was missing their two leading scorers in Khallid Hart (24.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG) and Chavaughn Lewis, who did play but only for one minute. Although Hart has played in only two games (against Bucknell and Army, a 14-point loss), Lewis came in averaging 17.9/4.4/2.3, which most certainly would've made an impact, and narrowed out the 15-point spread. Neither player is very tall, so we did hold our own against Marist's big men.

And one other thing: did Duggar Baucom read my blog post from last week's game against Mercer? Both Marshall and Watson started today, as I suggested. They effectively replaced Chapman and Anglade, and, as it turns out, both players gave us quality minutes in their respective roles. I like the three-guard lineup with Watson, the only true center on the roster, down low. Luckily it's still December, and Duggar has plenty of time to tinker with his starting rotations. For now, we wait, and hope that the players' focus on exams translates into focus on the court.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Postgame Thoughts: @ Navy

Right from the opening tip-off this has been a season of ups and downs. The performance, however, has to be considered a new low. There was absolutely no hustle, no effort, and no focus. Navy dominated right from the start with a 7-0 run, and by then the game was over, barring a slight run late in the first half. The Keydets were dominated in every facet of the game, and deservedly got whipped by eighteen points.

There is no doubt that Navy is bad team...very bad. They came into the game with an RPI of 338 (there are only 351 Division I teams in the country). They were 2-7, beating only a Division II school and Binghamton (now 1-9, most recently losing to Caldwell College). Samford and Citadel are right behind the Mids in the RPI category, and yet we stumble and bumble in this game after beating Citadel and demolishing Samford. What gives? Sure, it was a terrible shooting night - 35% overall, 21% from three - but nothing else was even half-decent. Outrebounded 44-29, had seven assists to Navy's eighteen, and two blocks to Navy's five. And once again there was no discipline under the boards or anywhere else; we were called for 25 fouls, some of which were unnecessary and flat-out inexplicable. As bad as Navy is, imagine that we were infinitely worse, at least in this game. I weep for all the VMI fans in attendance.

The threes were all short, the defense was nonexistent, and Navy took advantage. An effort like that would not beat an SoCon team, and maybe not any Division I team. We took twenty-two three-pointers in the second half and made a whopping three. For the first ten minutes of a game, we did not grab a single rebound. There was little ball movement and passing, evidence by the seven assists. No one decided to guard and the Mids knew it. We did not score in the final 4:27 and missed our last eight shots. Free throw shooting was just about the only positive from tonight's debacle, at least percentage-wise (13 of 16). But we still aren't getting to the line enough, and Navy beat us in that category by thirteen. Their sour shooting only added six more points, but the real problem was the foul trouble it caused us. Phil played little time with three PFs (although his inability to finish at the rim makes that less of a big deal), Brian had four, and Trey fouled out after accumulating 4 points and one rebound.

Once again, QJ's shooting is not there, going 8 of 19 from the field and 3 of 10 from distance. But by taking so many shots he gets 23 points, further concealing the truth of his shooting troubles. Marshall took seven threes and made none. Craig was a no-show and so was Brian. Give credit to Weethee for going 7 of 7 from the line and scoring 14 (but only three boards). The best performance (I hesitate to use such a term) was probably from Julian Eleby, who scored 16 points on 6 of 9 shooting. Other than that it was bad, bad, bad....

In the postgame comments Duggar said that this performance was the worst he's seen in all his coaching experience at VMI. Considering the level of talent on this team, I'd agree. After an encouraging two-game SoCon road swing down south, we go into Annapolis and throw up a brick. If QJ hates losing so much (and I know he does) he should step up, become a leader, and get the team's focus back on track. We are suffering from a serious lack of leadership. In my opinion, Marist is even worse than Navy, but a performance like we saw tonight will not beat a single team in the country. There will be better shooting days, but hustle and effort is a factor that you have 100% control of. Against the Mids there was none of it and for that reason we are 4-6, looking at, at best, a 5-8 record by the New Year.

The struggle is real.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Postgame Thoughts: @ Mercer

For about the sixth time this year, a sloppy second half does us in. Ike Nwamu uses his strenght and physicality to go off for 18 points, and TJ Hallice and Phillip Leonard get to the free throw line early and often. VMI goes 1-1 in the SoCon sneak peek, which, all things considered, is right about where they should be.

In a complete reversal of last Thursday's game, Mercer got to the line 38 times and that proved to be the difference. Their FT shooting was actually quite pitiful (66%) but it didn't matter. We fouled them so much that there were simply too many free throws to be shot, and they beat us by twenty-three in that category. On the glass the Bears dominated with a 47-29 edge, fifteen of which were offensive and led to 23 second-chance points. Looking at the rosters that's what you'd expect, but we've done so well with rebounding against taller teams in the past that it's a bit surprising.

For the second consecutive game the turnovers were much improved. We committed only ten (to Mercer's sixteen) so at this point I think the guys are getting more comfortable with handling the ball, and in particular, QJ, Brian, and Julian. Unfortunately, we forced only three steals, while Mercer had eight. There isn't enough pressure on the ball and when there is we get called for a foul. Incredibly we doubled-up Mercer on total personal fouls, and it'd be easy to blame the refs but such a disparity shows that you a) are not staying disciplined under the basket and b) aren't creating enough contact on the offensive end. We did neither in yesterday's game and it showed. Free throws have decided the outcome of our last two games.

Overall we shot poorly, but were better from long-range - 38.6%, although much of this was early on the game when Brown and QJ had a hot hand, combining for six three-pointers ten minutes into the game. From there it cooled down immensely. Brian would not hit another three the rest of the way, and QJ ended up going 6 for 16. If QJ and Brian are going to take 25 combined threes, they better make at least 40% of them. Otherwise, dish it off to someone else until you find your stroke. Tim Marshall was just about the only consistent spot in the lineup, going 6 of 13 on 3PT and 7 of 17 overall. He also had five rebounds.

Now consider this: we beat Mercer in bench points 29-12. Tim had 20 points, and Jarid was perfect from the field and had 6 pts. My question is: why are they the bench? Is the purpose of choosing a starting lineup not to maximize your ability to win by setting the tone for the game and giving the biggest minutes to your best players? Trey, a starter, had 2 points yesterday and was a no-show in thirteen minutes of playing time. Anglade did not score and only got four rebounds in twenty-six minutes. I can see starting Brown because of his defense and senior leadership (though his shot has been so frustratingly inconsistent), but what about the other guys? To my way of thinking you go with what works. Maybe Jarid over Anglade is a bit too much (he does, however, have three inches on him), but there's no reason why Tim shouldn't be starting. My suggestion would be to replace Tim with the ineffective Trey Chapman, and sub Hinton (or Watson) for the cold-shooting Jordan Weethee. Three guards has typically been the norm under Baucom, and such a lineup gives us an advantage behind the arc and maybe down low.

So a 1-1 SoCon road trip. Not great, but not bad either. It is what it should be. We have a chance of beating Mercer at home, but for now the focus is on a 2-7 Navy team who most recently lost to The Citadel by seven. After an impressive five-point loss to ranked Michigan State, Navy tanked against Notre Dame, Providence, Northeastern, and St. Francis. Their only win was over 1-8 Binghamton by two. If we can beat them, I like our chances against Marist, and will be interested to see what an inept Va. Tech team can do against us.

If it all works out in our favor, a 6-7 record heading into the New Year is not bad at all, considering all that's happened in the past two months.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Postgame Thoughts: @ Samford

Talk about making a statement....

I won't say that this win is indicative of the way the rest of the season will go. Samford is a respectable squad but coming in had beaten three not-so-quality Division I teams, but they did stay competitive in every game (save for the one @ Purdue). Add the fact that it was a conference opener on the road (eight-hour drive is a killer too), this was a solid, confidence-boosting win.

The pace of the game was as expected. Both teams got off nearly an identical amount of shots, and had nearly identical shooting percentages. So where did the 22-point margin come from? Simple - free throws. We got to the line 35 times, seventeen of which were courtesy of QJ, who, despite scoring 28 points, had another awful shooting night: 5 of 19 from the field, 3 of 9 from distance. The stats sound nice on the surface but if you dig into it, he could've and should've scored 40 if he made just half of his shots. He did pull down six assists and only three turnovers (an improvement).

Contrastingly, Samford got to the line only sixteen times and made ten free throws. This is a tribute to solid pressure from the guards and disciplined rim protection from our big men. Jarid Watson, who generally fouls often when opponents attack the rim, had no fouls last night in seven minutes of play. Weethee had only one, and Phil had three, but hauled down eleven rebounds and five blocks. Speaking of Weethee, Jordan had the first double-double for VMI of the season with 14 points and 11 boards. Our forwards contained the much taller and stronger Michael Bradley and Alex Peters.

Three-point shooting was poor, but the fact that we were able to overcome it and not only win, but win decisively, is very encouraging. We made five more three-pointers than Samford (who took only twelve, and shot miserably from distance as well), so that and the free-throws explain the final score. Biggest stat of the game: only ten turnovers, and forced the Bulldogs into twenty, and ten steals. QJ is starting to figure out his role at the point, and Eleby has gotten it together. Julian also scored 19 points and had five steals, but was most impressively 8 of 11 from the field. Put it together and you have a collection of superb individual performances, on the glass, on defense, and at the line. Deservedly, we are 1-0 in the SoCon.

After a shaky start to the year, with a rough schedule and incohesive play stemming from a lack of leadership, this team is beginning to gel together. Players are becoming more comfortable in their roles. Guys are rebounding aggressively and hustling. When shots don't fall, they stick to the gameplan and run with it. So perhaps the post-UNCW vent was unjust, and a bit of a knee-jerk reaction. There is still much work to be done, no doubt about it. But seeing the steady improvement of the team in the last week or so, there is definitely a bright future ahead.

Monday, December 1, 2014


With last night's performance, VMI is now averaging an astounding 19.8 turnovers per game. This statistic currently ranks third to last in the nation, behind only Louisiana-Lafayette and hapless Savannah State, who was defeated by Louisville 87–26 earlier in the week.

It's not hard to see where they are coming from. QJ is averaging 5 TO/game, Eleby 3.3, Chapman 2.7, and Brown 2.4. The turnover rate for each player was higher than it was last season, a season in which QJ turned it over the most with 2.2 per game. Among those players, only Eleby and Chapman have received significantly more playing time in their sophomore season, so it's clear to say there is a turnover bug that has caught the entire team by storm.

Statistically speaking, the turnover margin might be the difference in the Keydets being 2–4 versus 4–2, or even 5–1. Last season we averaged a mere 10.6 turnovers per game. Using this as a control, if we were currently at that mark this season, we would be, on average, attempting just over nine more shots per game. With a 45.5% field goal percentage, the chances are that we would make just over four of these shots, two of which would be three-pointers. Add it all up and you have ten points every game that you aren't getting. Such a differential would have been enough to win games against Army, and perhaps UNC Wilmington, given that the final seven points of the 110 the Seahawks scored were from the line or easy layups, at which point the team had already given up.

Ten points would have made for a much closer game against West Virginia, and certainly would've given Maryland a scare. This doesn't account for the fatigue and pressure that would be put on opposing teams with a close game, a statistic that is not quantifiable but most certainly in our favor. The turnovers are also negatively effecting our rhythm, which in turn weakens our shooting percentage. Despite the fact that we are averaging 86.3 points/game, our adjusted offensive efficiency (points scored per 100 possessions) is a meager 99.0, good for 173rd in Division I. On the top of that list you will find teams like Duke, Kentucky, Wisconsin, and Gonzaga - teams that don't necessarily score many points but do take care of the ball and value each possession.

Valuing every possession is not something to consider when running a loot-and-shoot offense such as Baucom's, but taking care of the ball is always a must. Duggar always reinforced the "shoot before you turn it over" mentality, so what can explain the turnovers? Both this season (so far) and last season, we averaged 70 field goal attempts per game, and we're even taking six more three-pointers on average. But the turnovers are decreasing those figures, so it's safe to say we are playing at a faster pace. It's still a small sample size, but consider that since 2007, we averaged anywhere from 11 to 17 TO/game, the 17 coming only in the first year of the run-and-gun system, when we averaged over 101 PPG and had an adjusted tempo of 90.9 (a number that will most likely never come close to being matched). Even if we were to take out the 36-turnover debacle @ WVU, the team would still be averaging 16.6 TO/game, still six more than last season and far too many.

Obviously, these problems stem from the lack of a true point guard, a problem that has been persistent since Day 1, and one that Duggar could do nothing about. Not only did the players on last year's team have the ball less (being that it was always in Rodney's hands), but they made a living in their natural positions and were thus more comfortable. Nevertheless, QJ is turning the ball over left and right, Eleby is tripping over his own feet, and Weethee is passing to the wrong team. This season is a growing process but right now there seems to be a disconnect at the guard position.

Postgame Thoughts: @ Maryland

It was the same old story for the Keydets tonight, although this time, the story was a bit brighter. I think Coach Baucom would take an 18-point loss against a Big Ten team on the road any day of the week, a loss in which VMI was down by four at halftime (though it really should've been tied), and Maryland needed a stellar effort from Richaud Pack and Dion Wiley to pull three.

Not having Brian Brown tonight hurt, though perhaps not so much offensively. Brian struggled mightily against West Virginia (1 for 9 shooting), but his defense was sorely missed. Christian Burton is not much of a defender and didn't put anything on the stat sheet. It's odd that Duggar would have him start over a guy like Tim Marshall or Julian Eleby, and it kind of defeats the purpose when he only plays ten minutes.

Nevertheless, the story of the game was Craig Hinton; 23 points, 8 of 9 overall, and 6 of 6 from long-range. That last stat is a killer. Craig has had a torrid start to the year and is now shooting 72% from deep, easily leading the team and well ahead of Tim Marshall, who scored 14 points tonight but needed seventeen shots to do it. Tim regressed from the WVU game, and connected on only two of his ten three-point attempts. QJ put up 18, and was the team's leading rebounder with nine boards. His three-point shooting touch is still not there, and it needs to be fixed before conference play. It's not so much the overall statistics but rather his inconsistency from beyond the arc. QJ had bad shooting performances against El Cid, Army, and now Maryland, but countered with good effort in the UNCW and WVU games. This wasn't a problem with Glasgow last season, so if he wants to be known as the go-to guy, then the three-point shots must start falling.

Phil Anglade fouled out, but not before collecting seven rebounds and six points. Phil was the only player besides Hinton who shot the ball well, as VMI connected on less than 40% of their FGs and 29% of three's. They are certainly taking as many as they should be, but it's still November and we should expect some cold shooting early on.

We "limited" ourselves to 18 turnovers, much improved from the West Va. game (it's incredible that I even have to type such a sentence). That number still needs to go down, especially for our PGs (Eleby and QJ) who combined to turn it over seven times. QJ is averaging about five turnovers per game, which is unacceptable at that position. Other than that, rebounding was what you'd expect it to be, and VMI did a much better job of pressuring the ball and forcing turnovers than on Wednesday.

I thought we had a sliver of chance late in the first half, but there were a couple things that went awry and turned the tide in MD's favor. First, let them go on an 8-0 run late in the half, but Hinton nailed a three-pointer and a turnover + foul had QJ going to the line for a 1-and-1. QJ misses the first free throw, and on the ensuing rebound, Trey Chapman fouls Jake Layman who hits both FT's with four seconds left, putting Maryland up four at the half. This was essentially a four-point turnaround all stemming from a missed FT and a foul, unfortunate mistakes that need to be corrected. Immediately we come out cold in the second half, and MD eventually takes advantage with a 13-0 run after a Marshall three. Then Eleby turns it over here and there, Branch airballs a three, Layman and Cekovsky have a block party and just like that we lose by 18.

These are things that would not have happened last season, mostly because of Glasgow's ability to take over a game when necessary. He could drive the lane for a soft floater, hit from long-range, or set up Covington and Co. with crisp passing. Obviously, both players are gone now and with that it is upon QJ (and no one else) to put a halt to runs when things fall apart. If he cannot do this then we better hope that Craig, Brian, and others step up when the going gets tough. Otherwise, expect many more second half debacles as we saw here tonight.