Finally getting around to posting some leftover notes, quotes and observations from Evansville’s victory over IPFW in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (you can read my game story here).
Here we go…
1. The 30-second shot clock was a nonfactor.
The game was played with a quick pace throughout, especially early. The Aces had one shot-clock violation in the second half, but that was because a scramble for a loose ball led to an out-of-bounds play with three seconds on the shot clock and then a forced airball as the time expired.
But both teams largely avoided shooting near the end of the clock, even though it is five seconds shorter in this tournament than the regular season.
“(Tuesday) in practice, I really got concerned (about the shorter clock),” Evansville coach Marty Simmons said. “For the most part, I thought we had pretty good rhythm. We were getting it out of the net (quickly) when they scored and we’ve been pretty good all year at when we force a missed shot, getting out in transition.”
2. Balentine put on his best shooting display of the season.
The guy hit 11 of his first 12 shots, including six 3-pointers. It was pretty incredible.
“Every game I try to come out with that mindset to kill, and today went OK,” said Balentine, chuckling after he was called out for his understatement.
Said Simmons: “He’s one of those guys when he gets in that zone, he’s had several games where he’s been able to fill it up. What I think pleased me the most was the variety of ways that he scored his baskets.”
When asked if Balentine was difficult to prepare for with his quick release, IPFW coach Jon Coffman said, “It’s tough to simulate. I wish we had a guy that could do that.”
3. IPFW successfully collapsed UE’s defense in the second half, forcing the Aces into scramble mode.
Whether by driving and kicking or playing through post player Steve Forbes, IPFW was able to get into the teeth of UE’s defense and then find open shooters. The Mastodons canned 8 of 14 3-pointers in the second half to get back into the game.
“They play four guards similar to us so with the pick-and-roll we obviously have to help on the big guy rolling,” Balentine said. “They caught fire down the stretch. Coach was getting on us for not getting stops, but I tried to tell him they were hitting tough shots.”
“We dropped 50 on a really good defensive team in the second half,” Coffman said.
Said Simmons: “They’re a difficult team to defend. In their last five (games) they’re shooting 43 percent from 3. … They run the pick-and-roll and replace as well as anyone. We had some breakdowns and they had some really good execution.”
4. It was another underwhelming finish to a game for UE.
The Aces won by five points, moving their record in games decided by five points or less to 5-8. But it was hardly an emphatic way to seal a victory after UE led by 23 points four minutes into the second half.
“Give Fort Wayne credit,” Simmons said. “They never quit, they kept battling, but we’ve got to turn the screws. We’ve got to do a better job. We’ve got to finish at the basket better and we’ve got to get more stops; we didn’t get many stops in the second half.”