Winning ugly: That is what can be said about this game. The Boilers ran train on Hofstra this afternoon, but not without 20 turnovers, bone-headed fouls, poor box outs, poor shot selections, and missed defensive assignments.
Even though there was a lot of slop, this team showed a lot of promise as well. For instance, who is this Jacob Lawson and will he be able to keep this up? Lawson looks like the most improved player from last year and is playing at 100 miles an hour. He's hustling, playing great defense, and scoring when he can. If Lawson keeps up his defense and can be a high-octane player off the bench he's going to help this team greatly down the stretch; especially against athletic forwards.
Terone Johnson made it on the court and didn't seem to be too bothered by his ankle injury. Thankfully Hofstra was outgunned from the start and TJ didn't have to play many minutes. Anthony Johnson had a strong game with 14 points, 4 rebounds, and an assist. Anthony is continuing to play hard and so far is our most consistent scorer. Ronnie Johnson had a nose for the ball with three steals, but he also turned it over 4 times. He also finished the game with 9 points and 7 assists. The Johnsons are continuing to impress in the first few games, but the 6 turnovers between AJ and RJ definitely hurt this team. We can't turn over the ball like we did today.
The big guys held their own down low. I have to admit that I'm extremely disappointed in A.J. Hammons' performance over the past two games. He hasn't been there for help defense and sometimes gets out-rebounded by players that are out hustling him. Maybe it's jitters or still learning Painters' system, but Hammons needs to improve his defense during these next few games.
Sandi Marcius came to play today with 11 points, 5 rebounds, a block and a steal. However, The Chooch Train was derailed multiple times by turnovers. Sandi has a bad habit of making his move before he has the ball controlled, which almost always leads to a travel. After looking incredibly strong in his first game, Jay Simpson took a lot of dumb shots and really didn't do a whole lot. He finished the game with two points and four rebounds. Donnie Hale finished with four points and a block and Travis Carroll played strong with three points, six rebounds, an assist, and good defense. Travis has been doing a lot of the little things that go unnoticed like box outs, screens, and keeping turnovers to a minimum. TC is growing on me and if he keeps up this hustle and consistency he'll continue to see minutes.
D.J. Byrd continues to struggle offensively. So far on the season he has 17 points on 6-19 shooting with five turnovers. Byrd will need to find his shot from behind the arc, because we need someone who can consistently knock down the three going forward.
Rapheal Davis played pretty well also. He is fearless when he drives to the basket and loves the contact. He also pounded the glass and really went after rebounds. Davis finished with 8 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and a steal. Dru Anthrop got his first career start and made the most of it with 2 points, 3 assists and 3 rebounds. I'm a huge Dru fan and am really happy the guy got to see meaningful minutes today.
Like I said in the beginning, we can't turn the ball over like we did today and expect to win in the games ahead. There is a lot to look forward to with this team; so far the Johnsons have been awesome when healthy, we are rebounding better, and we have a lot of energy out there. I'm happy we got our first win, but I have to admit I'm a little nervous going forward with the turnovers, shot selections, and confusion on defense. But I trust Matt Painter, and am confident he'll be able to right the ship before things get out of hand.
Villanova will be a big test as our first road game and has played well in their first two games. A win here will be great for us; we need all the momentum we can get. I'm excited for Thursday and hopeful that some of our young guys will have big games. Till then, we can celebrate the first victory of the season.