With Whittington out due to academic ineligibility, we had to find a way to replace our second best player. Replacing our second best scorer and rebounder when we don’t particularly score or rebound well should be a challenge over the course of a season. However, from game to game its quite possible and it occurred to me that when Starks plays well, GU plays well, so there is always hope. What I didn’t necessarily count on was that Smith-Rivera might be turning into a real player. He had averaged 10+ points per game the previous 3, but although I’ve seen him score 10pts in a game, I hadn’t seen him play what I would call a good game yet (but I haven’t seen every game). this was the first game I’ve seen where his game was as good as his stats. Although we beat the 24th team in the country on the road (where they are notoriously hard to beat), its hard to get too excited about the game when we almost couldn’t miss (53% from the field, 47% from 3). But the good news is that ND made a number of runs in the second half and a lesser team would have taken any of those as an opportunity to fold while on the road and no one would have thought twice – but each time someone came up with a big shot. I’m going down to DC to see the Louisville game with the Crazy Sports Dude in person this weekend, so this gives me some comfort that we might be able to make that game interesting.
Porter – (19 pts, 7-10 fgs, 3-4 3 pts, 9 rebs, 2 asts, 2 stls, 2 blks) – Another game where Porter has a ridiculous game doing Porterish things. But I was incredibly happy to see him start to become a “go to” player. One example, with ND on 10 point run and just cut the lead to 5, Porter hits a big 3.
Starks – (9 pts, 3-9 fgs, 1-3 3 pts, 5 rebs, 4 asts) – Pretty solid game – not his best, but good all around. Was aggressive and that is what we need right now more than anything.
Lubick – (8 pts, 4-4 fgs, 2 rebs, 3 asts) – I’ve been saying for 3 years now that he should post up more and not look to pass when he gets the ball down low and this is the type of thing he can do when he does that. We need these extra points from him.
Trawick – (7 pts, 3-6 fgs, 1-2 3 pts, 6 rebs, 6 asts) – Good game from him, filled the whole stat sheet. Doesn’t really deter me from reiterating my view from 3 games ago that with Whittington out, its only a matter of time before DSR starts.
Hopkins – (4 pts, 1-1 fgs, 0 rebs, 1 asts, 1 blks) – Can’t seem to get out of his own way on defense. Another game with 3 fouls in the first half and fouling out with plenty of time left in the game. But since he isn’t much on offense (his lone FG was a jump shot he never should have taken), I’m starting to think the unthinkable – I’m just as happy when Ayegba is in the game. Hopkins had – 0 rebs in 15 minutes? Anyone else worried that DSR AVERAGES more rebounds than Hopkins?
Smith-Rivera – (14 pts, 6-12 fgs, 2-6 3 pts, 2 rebs, 1 asts) – He may have other good games this season, but this is the first one that I saw. Was aggressive – almost irrationally so – which has been a theme for him this season – its just that this game his shots fell. One example, ND went on another run cutting the lead to 3 and without hesitation, DSR took a 3, Ayegba got the rebound and Porter sent it back to DSR who without a second of hesitation took, and this time nailed, the 3. He may very well be our offense next year when Porter gets drafted in the lottery and Whittington leaves to play in Europe.
Ayegba – (2pts, 0-3 fgs, 10 rebs, 2 asts) – 10 rebounds in 24 minutes – that’s all you can really ask for from Moses. Can’t say that I’m comfortable with him on the floor, but with Hopkins the alternative (did I mention that our Freshman 6 foot guard, who comes off the bench out rebounds our starting center?), beggars can’t be choosers.
Bowen – (0 pts, 0-0 fgs, 0 rebs, 0 asts, 0 stls, 0 blks) – Didn’t really do much to separate himself either way – not sure why he played so much in the first half and didn’t get in in the second half.
JT 3- Not much to complain about this game (except my pet peeve as to why he doesn’t put the scrubs in at the end of the game and insists on playing Porter 40 minutes a game). I can’t remember this many games in a row where I was able to say I didn’t have much to complain about.