Interesting things happen in Union men’s basketball games that often go unnoticed. To help see these games more clearly, four of our writers (Michael Chapman, Trevor James Fox, Caleb Lay and Logan Whaley) put together their thoughts on Union’s first two regular season games.
Who will be the odd man out in crowded bulldog backcourt?
Michael Chapman: Union seems to have more-than-adequately replaced the three guards who graduated after last season. So much so, in fact, that it almost seems unfair that some of these guys are not getting more playing time.
Union played five guards in their season opener: Ashanti Day, KC Goodwin, Nick Velasquez, Tray Boyd and Alex Keel. All five played well and will likely be competing for coveted minutes during conference play over the next few weeks.
Day can probably be removed from this discussion as he has already established himself as one of the best players on this Bulldog roster. But everything else is fair game.
Keel and Goodwin seem to be trending up after solid performances on Friday. Keel may have been the most impressive of the remaining four. He racked up 10 points in just 17 minutes of play, including two momentum-changing threes with a defender draped all over him.
Goodwin also may have helped his cause. Despite finishing with just six points, he showed off his defensive skills with a whopping five steals! Goodwin may also have an upper hand due to experience. Goodwin and Day are the only two Union guards not in their first year with the program.
Something has to give when it comes to minute share between these four guys. It is also worth noting that the jump shooting abilities of forwards Jared Scott and Bennett Fuzak allows this team to stretch the court even with an extra big man in the game, which could even further limit the minutes available for these talented perimeter players.
We have the biggest point guard in Division II
Caleb Lay: One of the most fascinating subplots of the season is Ashanti Day playing point guard for the Bulldogs. The 6’6’’ senior guard who has played mostly power forward during his college career, and even center at times, now runs the offense when starting point guard, KC Goodwin, isn’t on the floor.
Last year, Day led the Gulf South Conference in rebounds. This year, he’ll run the offense and make one of the biggest lineups the Bulldogs have had in recent years. With Day being 6’6’’, Jarad Scott 6’8’’, Charlie Wilson 6’8’’, Tray Boyd 6’4’’ and Velasquez 6’2’’ their average height is 6’5.6’’. To put that in perspective, the team that is the favorite to win the Gulf South Conference, Alabama-Huntsville, has a starting five with an average height of 6’3.6’’. With the point guard of Union’s big lineup being one of the best rebounders in the conference, this lineup should dominate opponents on the glass this season.
Day still has to learn how to offense run after three years of playing in the post or on the wing, but his versatility is a gift the Bulldogs can use to ruin teams on both sides of the ball.
Street Ball not enough for Spring Hill
Trevor James Fox: After coming off of a Harlem Globetrotters-esque performance against Rhodes last Saturday, Union found a slower opponent in Spring Hill College this Friday. SHC, who finished 9-19 for the bottom position in the SIAC West last season, was downright sloppy in the match-up.
With just under six minutes to play in the game, in the midst of SHC attempting to mount a 21-point deficit, one player started on the left side three-point line and drove straight under to the hoop. He did what EplusTV6 commentator Alex Northcut called a “Dipsy Do for Two.” He kind of twirled around and tossed up an awkward reverse layup. It fell, and he got an opportunity for a third point thanks to a Union foul, but this was an example of how SHC played all day long. Union forced them to take awkward shots and throw up anything they could find. Meanwhile, Union could shoot whatever they wanted.
SHC played street ball – brick city, random reverse layups and unpolished physicality – and street ball will never withstand a hot DII squad.
Wait. Did we just play the Crimson Chin in basketball?
Lay: I’m sorry if you don’t know who the Crimson Chin is. He’s a superhero from the kids TV show “Fairly Odd Parents,” one of my favorite shows growing up.
Jack Morrissey of Spring Hill has a huuuuge chin that juts out in the same way the fake superhero’s does.
His superpowers did not involve flying, huge muscles or being able to spew funny one-liners on command, but he did play a perfectly vanilla game recording five points on two shots, one rebound and an assist.
Morrissey thinks he has us fooled into believing he’s just another Clark Kent, but he won’t fool me. Come February or March, don’t be surprised if he lights opponents up and peels back his jersey to reveal he’s been wearing a crimson unitard the whole time.
Wilson’s absence helps other bigs do their thing
Logan Whaley: Generally, after a key player goes down holding his leg and grimacing in pain while there is a stunned silence in the gym, the proverbial alarm bells start ringing for the team with said key player and their quality of play starts to decline.
This wasn’t the case for the Union University men’s basketball team Saturday night. Even though Charlie Wilson went down early in the first half with an apparent ankle injury, guys like Jarad Scott (21 points, 14 rebounds) stepped up and led the Bulldogs to an 80-62 victory.
While we don’t know the extent of Wilson’s injury, we do know that his injury hurts the Bulldogs. It’s a tough break for the junior forward. He sat out all of last season recovering from a knee injury and fought hard to get back on the court. He hasn’t really had the opportunity to gel with this style of offense that Union runs this season. I certainly hope that he heals up quickly and that this injury isn’t as severe as it seems.
With Wilson out, post players like Scott, senior Felipe Rocha, and freshman Bennett Fuzak had to pick up the slack. All three did a great job in playing their part. If the Bulldogs can get consistent double-doubles from the senior Scott, consistent strong rebounding and defense from Rocha and solid perimeter shooting from the freshman Fuzak, then this makes the bitter pill of losing Wilson (whether it be to fouls or an injury) easier to swallow.
The deep ball revolution reaches Union with the arrival of the freshmen Bull-Pups
Lay: The NBA’s modernized pace-and-space game reached the college ranks in historic fashion last year and Union is no exception. Last year, NCAA Division I basketball saw its highest rate of three-point shots attempted ever, and with Stephen Curry as the face of the new style of play, shooting threes has never been more popular.
Union’s four freshmen that played this weekend are all a part of the three-ball generation and can all pull from range. Through the first two games, Union shot 37.2 percent from deep while the the freshmen— Fuzak, Keel, Boyd and Burnside— shot a combined 43.3 percent. Burnside even leads the team in points per minute (five points in three minutes of play).
These Bull-Pups are ushering in a more positionless style of basketball where everyone can shoot, creating tons of space inside for the bigs to post up or the guards to drive-and-kick.