Layup Lines: No time to panic

Bennett Fuzak shoots a jumper against Christian Brothers University. |Photo by Cody Cunningham

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 conference opener.

It’s not panicking time yet  by Logan Whaley

That was brutal to watch. It’s hard to point out anything positive about a 91-60 loss, but if there is one thing, it’s that things can only go up from here.

Imagine a scenario where Team A is an experienced team that returned a majority of their starters, including three of their top four scorers, and Team B is a team that only returns three total players from the year before and features eight newcomers. Which team would you expect to win? Surely, it would be Team A. Team A is Christian Brothers University, and Team B, as I’m sure you’ve probably guessed by now, is Union. Even though the Bucs finished 12-17 last year, their experience trumped the Bulldogs’ inexperience. The game was never in doubt, as CBU limited turnovers, made 16 threes, and made the most out of every possession, while Union struggled with turnovers, empty possessions and could never get into a flow on offense.

Speaking of empty possessions, the Bulldogs need to get rid of careless turnovers and little mistakes. It felt like at least half of Union’s 16 turnovers occurred when a player carelessly stepped out of bounds. The little things can win you a big game, and Union just didn’t do those things tonight.

The Bulldogs this year, to put it in fantasy football terms, have been boom-or-bust. It has either been a home run of a performance that’s exciting to watch or a train wreck that is very hard to watch.

Inconsistency and inexperience are two words that accurately describe their play so far. We’ve seen the good and bad from most guys on the team, and what’s scary is thinking about how good this team looks when everybody is playing at their peak.

Lady Bulldogs gaining experience with close, tournament-like games by Michael Chapman

The 4-1 Lady Bulldogs have already experienced their fair share of clutch (and not-so-clutch) moments in the early going of the 2016-17 season. Three of Union’s first five games have come down to the wire, and two of those games have come against teams ranked inside the top 25. Between these three games, Union’s results have been on both ends of the spectrum. In their only game not played at Fred Delay this season Union pulled away in the fourth quarter for a ten point victory over Nova Southeastern University. The only loss came in overtime against Clayton State, a game in which they led by five with 11 seconds to go.

Union came up in the clutch in their first conference game against Christian Brothers, though. Despite trailing the Lady Bucs almost the whole game, the Lady Bulldogs played stout defense and hit some clutch free throws at the end of the game to seal a four-point win.

This Union team is gaining valuable experience early-on. This could put Union in prime position to win close games come tournament time in March.

Fuzak’s Threes Ousted by CBU by Trevor James Fox

Before Tuesday’s matchup with Christian Brothers, I saw Bennett Fuzak warming up from behind the three-point line. Well, it paid off; he was lights out in the game, scoring 18 points to lead the Union squad. At one specific moment, with just under 6 minutes to play in the first half, Fuzak nailed a three from the top of the key. He turned and yelled in celebration.

Fuzak’s intensity led the Bulldogs in coming within three points of CBU, but late in the first half and all through the second, the ‘Dogs had zero chance. CBU just went off.

Sure, Fuzak played great, but when your team allows 91 points defensively, you need more than 18 points as your leading scorer.

Brad Miller or Steph Curry? by Michael Chapman

So, to be fair, coming into the Union-Christian Brothers game, Brad Miller was averaging just four points a game and was just 4-17 from three point land on the year. But he absolutely went off for the Buccaneers on Tuesday.

Miller hit his first seven from beyond the arc in this one, and ended up with 23 points on 8-9 shooting. Too early to dub him two-time NBA MVP? Perhaps. But he sure looked a whole lot like the King of Threes himself at Fred Delay last night..

Charlie Wilson is coming to save us all… by Caleb Lay

My colleagues have already told you how bad the men’s game went, but there is hope on the horizon. Charlie Wilson will return. I don’t know when, but I do know that he will change the way the Bulldogs play.

Sure, the first game of the season he fouled out after playing less than 20 minutes, but if he can do this then he’ll be a game changer.

Wilson brings an energy, athleticism and impressive skill set to the Bulldogs they’ve lacked in the last several games. He can dominate down-low on the post and the boards, run the floor and knock down threes. He’ll also make Union’s starting lineup bigger so they can tip the rebound margin in their favor (they’re locked even with opponents getting 204 rebounds on the season to Union’s 204).

I understand that’s a lot of pressure and expectation for one guy, but even if Wilson could only play 20 minutes a game without fouling out, this team gets deeper, bigger and better. Hopefully he’ll be back for the rematch against Christian Brothers December 10.

About Cardinal & Cream 1006 Articles
The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.