Friday, November 4, 2011

And we're off!

First basketball game of the year was last night, and it was all-around entertaining. Three-point shots, pretty layups and even a HUGE dunk. It was a good game; a good one for everyone to shake off the rust and work out the kinks. The Tigers beat Black Hills State 74-59.

You could tell the Tigers are a new team in the first half. We were putting up some rushed shots, some crazy shots and some shots that were making coach Murphy pretty unhappy. We also gave up quite a few offensive boards. In the second half, everyone seemed to have calmed down and found their groove a bit. That's when it got fun.

Carde Pennington, a 5-foot-7 junior transfer from Chicago, Ill., hit three straight 3-pointers (all off assists from Kris Wilson, who did an awesome little victory dance after the third one) and a pair of free throws to give DWU a sizeable lead. Then, as if to tell Black Hills to just back off, Jordan Long broke free and took a full-court pass from German Madueno and slammed in a huge dunk. The Corn Palace crowd (which was pretty good sized for an early-season game on a Thursday) went absolutely nuts. That basically took the wind out of Black Hills' sails.

Mike Lee, another junior transfer, led the team with 21 points. It was a fairly quiet 21 points; he hit three 3-pointers, other than that it was layups and a handful of tough jumpers. After he hit one of his last baskets he did a little dance at about the free-throw line; I don't know how many people saw that but I enjoyed it.

It was really fun to watch Pennington and Lee take over the game and do their thing. Pennington is small, but he's so fast, and he has such a smooth shot. Each time it left his hands you just knew it was going in (and the BHSU coaches knew it too, and therefore weren't too happy when he was allowed to get a shot off, which was fairly often). Lee is also quick, and was able to make some tough shots in front of the BHSU defense.

The Tigers are up in Ellendale, N.D., for a game against Trinity Bible College this weekend and are back at home Tuesday against Mayville State. I'm looking forward to watching this team all season; it will be fun to see how it evolves.

The DWU women are also up in Ellendale this weekend for their first game of 2011-12. Last year the Tigers were young. This year is no different. The difference in this year and last year, however, is the amount of experience on the team. All the sophomores played a decent amount of minutes as freshmen last year, and several of them started. Liz Lamb and Brittany Hills are both in their third years with the program and will be looking to pick up a few more wins, and Brittany Pritchard is back as the team's only starting senior. Kim Johnson, Amanda Hart, Taylor Piper and Whitnee Clayton are a few sophomores that will play, and Celeste Beck and Katie Johnson are the two freshmen that are expected to see playing time.

I think what's going to be key for this year's young squad is forgetting mistakes. Last year it seemed like they'd be doing ok, then someone would turn the ball over or make a bad shot and everything just snowballed. Things happen; we just need to learn from it and move on, and quickly. Teams will take advantage of a meltdown, even a short one. Especially GPAC teams. There were three GPAC teams in the top five in the NAIA's top 25 preseason poll, so league games aren't going to be any easier this season.

Last home football game of the year Saturday. Tigers need a win to get back on track and end on a good note after such a solid start.

The Tiger men's soccer team plays in a GPAC semifinal game Saturday at 5 p.m. at the Pepsi-Cola Complex. No. 2 DWU hosts No. 3 Midland. Midland beat DWU 3-1 earlier this year in Fremont, Neb. A Tiger win would mean their first-ever trip to the GPAC championship game.

Lots to do this weekend. Someone needs to find a way for me to be in about four places at once. The basketball/football overlap makes life crazy, but I enjoy every minute of it. I might sleep every spare minute I'm not working, but I'm ok with that.

Hope to see everyone at at least one sporting event this weekend. Who ya rootin' for?!

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