Richard Bland Falls To Wake Tech
By Ryan Lazo, sports editor
Feb 23, 2014, 20:12
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
PETERSBURG — Through 20 minutes of play, Richard Bland did not display the heart, desire nor determination that has seen them rise from an overlooked program making their return to the National Junior College Athletic Association to a team now sitting with the No. 1 ranking in the polls.
Instead, on a day the Statesmen honored their past by welcoming former players and coaches back to campus, Richard Bland found themselves trailing by nine points at halftime to Wake Technical Community College. While a rare situation, no one on the Statesmen bench began to panic.
This was a team that had faced adversity before to come out on top, including securing a one-point overtime win last week. And when Melvin Gregory followed up a missed outside shot with a tip-in followed by another basket to help jump-start a 6-0 run to cut the deficit to 49-43 with 11:27 to go, it seemed Richard Bland was on their way to an 18th straight victory.
However, it was not to be as Richard Bland managed to tally just five points over the game's final 5:14 before falling to the Eagles, 69-55, for their biggest margin of defeat all season.
"We weren't mentally ready," Richard Bland head coach Chuck Moore said dejectedly. "We were flat. We weren't executing. I mean our offense, we were just going around with no purpose. We weren't guarding guys. It was all mental today."
It would be the only way to describe what was the worst performance the Statesmen have had all season.
From the opening tip-off it was evident the Eagles were the team more emotionally invested into the game while the Statesmen were just going through the motions. Offensively, Richard Bland's half-court sets lacked the urgency they needed.
Screens took what seemed like an eternity to be set up while at other points players even forgot what to do on different plays, leaving too many one-on-one battles to occur. One-on-one play is a dark and dreary scenario for this Statesmen squad.
They don't have a player who can create their own shot and rely on offensive-sets to get players moving, the defense out of position and resulting in open shots. However, without energy, the sets were blown up by a hungry Wake Tech squad that was determined to avenge a loss to Richard Bland last month.
"Guys were forgetting plays and it's so uncharacteristic," Moore said. "We didn't execute the way we should have offensively and unfortunately this is a team that kid of hinges on how well we are making shots. That's where their whole pride is. They have to have pride on the defensive end because Wake Tech just dominated us offensively."
It would be an understatement.
The Eagles were able to get whatever they wanted offensively, whether it was jump-shots or penetrating drives to the basket. In fact, drawing contact and getting to the line was where Wake Tech truly took over the game.
The Eagles attempted a mind-numbing 40 free throws while connecting on 30 of them. To further the point, the trio of Waymond Wright, Lemont Martin and Jamaree Robertson attempted 32 of the free throws as they combined for 47 of Wake Tech's points.
Ryan Lazo/Hopewell News/News-Patriot
"We committed a lot of dumb fouls," Moore said. "They get it in where they needed to and you have to give them credit. The way they played and how we played went right into their game-plan ... Letting a team shoot 40 free throws, you're setting yourself up for failure."
Yet, with everything that went wrong for the Statesmen, if they took just took advantage of the opportunities which were presented to them, it may have been a different story.
The Statesmen shot just 27 percent from the field in the second half and connected on just 6-of-11 free throws, taking points off the board which should have been counted. Among the 26 missed field goals over the final 20 minutes were wide-open jumpers missed from Micah Thomas who was held to just 7 points, Evan Bates who had 3 and missed bunnies in the post from Tavon Mealy and Avery Ugba who has 8 and 6 respectively.
Although, the loss is the type of game that can be used as a wake-up call for a team which has steamrolled through much of its season. It can used to reinforce the notion of the importance of defense and highlight the benefits of an unselfish offense right before Richard Bland readies for the Region X Tournament.
"We've been preaching it every single day," Moore said of needing intensity in every game. "Hopefully we will respond ... they are freshman so we'll see if they have the mentality to respond from this."
Whether Richard Bland learns from the loss and used the lessons gathered to execute better down the stretch will determine how successful they will be in the Region X Tournament.