(Jordan Long and Brady Wiebe go up for a rebound against Grace. Photo by Brian Beard, Creative Images Photography)
After a day of being anxious... we did it! It did take me until the very end of the game to stop fidgeting, though. I was sitting next to the Oklahoma Wesleyan coach, and he got a kick out of my finger tapping, white knuckled antics.
But seriously -- what a game. At the reception today, Shane talked about how this needs to be a team effort, how, when everyone works together for a common good, we can achieve so much more, and I think the guys took it to heart. That was the best collective team effort I have seen all year. The Briar Cliff game was great, and Northwestern, but this was fantastic. Our bench outscored their bench 26-4. That hasn't happened all year. Everyone made at least one huge contribution. Bo hit three big 3s. Jordan had 8 points, 8 rebounds, several assists and a few blocks. He was everywhere. Jake hit a big three. And Matt Dykstra had a few huge rebounds and three HUGE blocked shots. Germ had 11 points. Justin Nelson had 11 points and a few key rebounds and steals. Brady had 16 points. Chase had 7, including a late three to help seal it. The list goes on and on. Everyone had a hand in this win, and that is something they should be ridiculously proud of.
I wasn't impressed by Grace's bigs. Not even a little bit. Duke Johnson, their really good big guy, had some good shots, but they were all 18 footers. Not at all impressive down low or in the post. And Dykstra... Dykstra came out and just decided he was going to shut them down and play around them. And he did. He, and the whole team, shut them down. I was worried about No. 33 for awhile... he had a good first half... but he got quiet in the second. They were good, but nothing special. Tall, but that doesn't mean much if you don't take advantage of it.
This means... bring on Northwood! The No. 2 team in the country. Coached by Rollie Massimino, they are in the top 5 in the nation in several statistical categories. They lead the nation in 3-point percentage (.410) and are second in field-goal percent defense (.382) and total assists (571). Jon Dunn is fourth in points per game (23.8) and Pat Horstmann is eighth in rebounds per game (10.1). They're tall... but we learned tonight that doesn't necessarily mean much.
I watched Northwood a little bit today, but I don't think it was too indicative of how they normally play. They played Fisher, who's 15-15, doesn't seem to know what a shot clock is for and whose offense seems to be whoever gets the ball first shoots. It was pretty sloppy. Northwood wasn't working too hard, but it really didn't half to. I guess time will tell!
I'm so glad not to be nervous anymore. We'll see how tomorrow goes. I think I'm going to play tourist for awhile so maybe I'll forget about being nervous until closer to game time.
Hope everyone stays tuned in tomorrow! Who ya rootin' for?!