Club basketball team impressive in season's first tournament
Published: Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 18, 2012 00:10
The UNC Wilmington men’s club basketball team began their season at home this past weekend with their first tournament of the year.
Looking to build on their inaugural season last year, the squad entered the weekend brimming with optimism and high expectations for themselves.
In their first competition of the 2012 season, the squad had a fairly successful run. They lost to N.C. State, came back to beat UNC-Charlotte and ended the weekend on a winning note when Furman forfeited.
The first game the Seahawks played was against the N.C. State club team. It was a pretty even first half, but the Seahawks led 26-25 going into halftime. However, the Wolfpack jumped to a quick offensive start in the second half, and the Seahawks found themselves trailing by as much as 13 in the second half. The Seahawk’s free throw shooting kept them in the game as they finished with 86 percent. Junior and club vice president Griffin Templeton led the way with a perfect eight for eight at the free throw line. Templeton was also the only Seahawk to go perfect at the free throw line in both games. He finished 12 for 12 overall.
“When shooting free throws, I just concentrate, block everything else out and focus," Templeton said. "That’s all I do for that."
Templeton led the team in points against N.C. State with 19.
“I looked to attack more and be more aggressive on defense,” Templeton said. “N.C. State is a good team, so I knew I had to play my best against them.”
Junior Dustin Newton was second in points with 14, and he tied for first in rebounds with three.
The Seahawks tried their best to get back in the game, playing more aggressively in the paint, but it wasn’t enough as the Wolfpack came away with the victory, 62-58.
“The biggest thing I took away from the loss to N.C. State was understanding roles on the team,” Coach Wood said. “We must collectively play better on defense. We have to make a priority to talking on defense and keep the hands moving.”
The Seahawks came up with a better defensive performance in their second game of the tournament against UNC-Charlotte. At halftime, the situation was the same as in the N.C. State game; UNCW was leading 26-25.
“I told the guys that the score at halftime was the same exact score as the one played against N.C. State,” Coach Wood said. “Let’s not have another situation where we come out flat and seal the deal.”
The Seahawks ended up winning 57-45 behind the great play of their point guard, sophomore Thomas Brafford. He ran the offense with execution and was impressive with his team-leading 11 points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals.
“I definitely played a lot better than I did against N.C. State,” Brafford said. “My defense was the main concern coming into the UNC-Charlotte game, but I think I did better with that. I was also able to get the offense into rhythm, and that’s my main job as a point guard.”
All together, the UNCW club team had nine steals in the game and attacked the boards with 18 rebounds. Leading in rebounds was Josh Gregory with five, and even though he had a poor performance at the free throw line (two of six) he still had seven points, an assist, a block and a team-leading three steals. Dustin Newton showed his consistency with another great performance in the second game. He came away second in points with nine, led the team in assists with three, and had three rebounds and two steals as well. Even though UNCW turned the ball over more than UNC-Charlotte–16 to 12–they still came away with their first victory of the 2012 season.
UNCW was supposed to play their third game of the tournament against Furman, but Furman had to forfeit because they did not have enough players. So by rule, UNCW finished their first tournament of the season with a 2-1 record. Even though on paper UNCW played well, Coach Wood pointed out that a team can always improve.
“We have to play every single minute of the game and not be lazy,” Coach Wood said. “We lost to N.C. State by two buckets, and that’s two times where we could have played better. So we have to play every minute of the game to the fullest until the final buzzer sounds.”
The next tournament for the club basketball team is going to be at James Madison University Nov. 2-4. This time, 24 teams will be contending in the tournament, and UNCW hopes to make an impact as one of those teams.