Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Topper Phalanx Marches Over Towson

The phalanx was one of the most feared battle formations of ancient times. Soldiers would line up in ranks four or so lines deep and lock their shields together while pointing all spears forward. This created a wall of shields with many pointed spears protruding out in front. The opposing army's options were to either try to break the formation or find its weakness.

Last night, the Topper phalanx poked holes in Towson to the tune of 95-72. The Tops had ten players play double-digit minutes and two others logged eight minutes. There were simply too many spears for Towson to avoid. Furthermore, the Tigers' superstar guard Gary Neal was held to just 13 points (half his average coming into the game) on 3-13 shooting. WKU's star, Courtney Lee, certainly outplayed Neal in this game. Lee pierced the Tigers for 21 points and 5 rebs on 9-16 shooting including 3-6 from downtown. The Tops ran fresh bodies at Neal all night and kept him on the run throughout the entire game.

As good as the Toppers were, the weakness of their phalanx was exploited. Granted, the game was never in doubt after the Toppers used a 13-2 run to go up 22-10 with under 11 mins to in the first half, but Towson shot 16-22 from the field in the second half and most of those buckets came by getting into the halfcourt and tossing the ball over the Topper defenders. Much like the Greeks' phalanx, the weakness of the Topper army is its backside. WKU will have to shore up the interior defense before they meet the vaunted Florida Gators on Friday (Sun Sports and FOX South at 9.30 CST). I am no fan of polls, but most everyone in the country believes Florida is the best team in the land. This will be a great opportunity and important experience for WKU.

Let's hope the Topper phalanx is not countered by a Gator atomic bomb. Spears tend to be ineffective against more advanced weapons.

Last Night's GOI
--at Clemson 69, Mississippi State 66. Clemson is 6-0, but they did this last year and faded in ACC play.
--at Michigan State 66, Vermont 46. Sparty at home was too much for the Catamounts.
--at Penn 68, Drexel 49. Are we back to Old Dominion as the CAA fave?
CBE Classic
--Air Force 67, Texas Tech 53. AFA should have been left out last year, but they look like an NCAA team right now.
--Marquette 73, Duke 62. Marquette's experience and intensity were the difference at the end in a close game.
Maui Invitational
--Georgia Tech 92, Memphis 85. GT trailed by 19 early before roaring back to take down the Tigers.
--UCLA 73, Kentucky 68. UK's freshmen looked solid, but a late turnover by junior PG Ramel Bradley halted a big comeback win. UCLA should be happy, but they frittered away a 17-point lead in this one.
--Purdue 74, Oklahoma 71. Boiler fans have cause to feel good about their squad for the first time in awhile.
--at North Texas 65, Tulsa 63. IF not for that inexplicable hiccup at home against TX-Arlington, the Mean Green would be turning some heads. They have beaten Charlotte, Rice, and Tulsa already this season.
--at Oral Roberts 54, UL-Lafayette 51. Much closer than most would have dreamed.
--at South Florida 79, FIU 50. Fortunately, margin of victory does not hurt the conference.
--at Western Kentucky 95, Towson 72. See above.

Tonight's GOI
--Boston College at Providence. Old Big East rivals hook up.
Maui Invitational
--Purdue vs DePaul. The fifth-place game in Maui.
--Kentucky vs Memphis. For third place and to gather up a quality non-conference win.
--Georgia Tech vs UCLA. For all the Maui marbles.
Preseason NIT
--Gonzaga vs North Carolina. There will be a lot of talented youth on the court.
--Butler vs Tennessee. The Bulldogs have made noise, now they look to amplify it on a national scale.
--UL-Monroe at SMU. The Warhawks (2-2) have performed better than expected.
--UALR at Texas State. The Trojans need this roadie to help heal the nationally televised whipping they took at Texas Tech and the subsequent loss at Tulsa.
--New Orleans at Lamar. Bo McCalebb needs help for UNO to succeed.
--Florida Atlantic at North Florida. Someone will get their first win tonight.