This contest was a challenging one for the eventual Southland champs- the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks. Early in this contest, they played a helping zone, focusing their efforts on the interior defense. TAMCC had great size inside and exploited the efforts of Justin Reynolds and Demond Watt. Stephen F's high low spacing offense was fairly effective against the Corpus Christi defense. Both teams knocked down several shots early on, hitting a startling sixty percent from the field each. Akpan was a nice counter inside who fought for position inside. Coombs was able to shoot over Bell in the first half because of his tremendous size advantage. This could be a problem for the Lumberjacks in the tournament. The Islanders played a man-to-man defense throughout much of the first half, while switching to zone on a couple of instances. Walt Harris was able to hit some midrange shots down the stretch. But, Kevin Palmer countered with some late baskets of his own. Stephen F. hit some shots because they were patient on the offensive end. However, it was Corpus Christi's efficiency that kept this game close. Eric bell drew three offensive fouls in the first half alone. Perry Clark called for a 1-3-1 zone late in the game which caused some problems for the Lumberjacks. This could be a worrisome sign for their tournament aspirations.
In the second half, Watt continued to clean up on the glass on both ends of the floor. Matt Kingsley came out hitting shots from everywhere on the floor. Corpus Christi was able to take the momentum that they gained from the foul on the three point attempt as the half expired. Stephen F. Austin still played efficient basketball and was able to counter the Islanders' punches early. Both teams were fundamentally sound rebounding the ball and utilizing basketball other basketball skills. The Islanders have received many second chance points by employing their length in order to outwork the Lumberjacks inside. While they did mount a sizable six point lead, Texas A&M Corpus Christi was unable to really extend that margin. Bell again played some excellent defense, causing several Islanders players to travel after the catch. Coombs and Watt did not play as well in the second half as they did in the first. Kingsley, on the other hand, proved why he was the player of the year, by tying the game on a three point play. The Islanders missed on several easy . Both teams rarely turned the ball over and showed considerable poise against each other's hard nosed defenses. Stephen F. Austin is a poor free throw shooting team, and this could haunt them down the stretch. Kingsley hit a fadaway shot to reclaim the lead for the Lumberjacks. Alexander's outstanding block, stopping what would have been an easy layup attempt, really set the stage for the offense. Just to demonstrate how close this game was- at the three minute mark, there were eight ties in the game. Down the stretch, Kingsley completely took over the game- this was the difference in their win.
Prospects of Note:
Stephen F. Austin
Eric Bell- This diminutive point guard is a hard nosed defender that controls the game outside of being a standout scoring weapon. He is able to draw charges and move his feet on defense. On the offensive end, he can hit open three point shots and free throws, but he certainly plays within the system. While he is extremely aggressive on the defensive end, he is too small- at 5'2- to effectively block and alter shots once players pull up.
Josh Alexander- He is a lengthy shooter that can put the ball on the floor and attack the basket. He is a versatile player that can score in a variety of ways. Alexander does not have a great ball handling ability, which is why he probably will not make the leap to the NBA. Moreover, he shoots a rather low percentage from the field for such a scoring weapon. On the defensive end, he is able to guard taller players, but is not always as strong as some of the bigger forwards. While this was not one of his best games, Alexander may receive some looks from overseas scouts.
Matt Kingsley- He is the conference POY who scores in a variety of ways. He has several post moves, including a nice spin move involving a drop step. Matt is able to get very low post position and demonstrates nice fundamentals in this area of the game. Furthermore, he can step out and hit a midrange shot. On the defensive end, he does have some difficulty. Kingsley is not a great shot blocker and has some trouble laterally against bigger players. Because he can shoot the ball and is fairly effective with his back to the basket, scouts should give him a look at Portsmouth this year. At 6'9, he is not entirely undersized and has the skillset to be solid role player.
Walt Harris- Harris is a decent spot up shooter that attacked the basket on occasion. Defensively, he was rather effective, getting his hands in the passing lanes and trying to corral a steal.
Eddie Williams- He is one of Stephen F's more versatile players who is able to shoot off the dribble and create his own shot. He hit several key baskets against the zone and I would expect his offensive abilities to translate against Syracuse.
Texas A&M Corpus Christi
Demond Watt- Watt was extremely effective on the interior, scoring and defending Kingsley. He demonstrated a nice face up game which got him to the free throw line on several occasions. Watt is able to hit some easy inside shots and impact the game in a variety of ways- whether it be on defense or scoring on easy finish opportunities. He is able to be in the right place at the right time. Specifically, he possesses a nice drop step in his arsenal.
Shamar Coombs- This 6'1 guard was able to hit some outside shots. He is an intelligent player that can make nice decisions with the ball in his hands and hit the long ball as well. In the second half, he attacked the basket and posted up against the smaller Bell. Coombs demonstrated his basketball intellect on the defensive end as well, switching on several key plays down the stretch- really challenging the Lumberjacks.
Kevin Palmer- This wing did not put on a tremendous scoring display in the first half. However, he was effective defensively, utilizing his excellent length. Palmer is a dynamic, big guard that can hit shots and is capable of getting to the line. He is aggressive attacking the basket, with excellent body control. The ball runs through Palmer on the offensive end, and he is able to distribute the ball rather effectively, despite not being a true point guard. Overall, Palmer looks to be a potential Portsmouth Camp invite for the future. He is the most outstanding scorer in the conference and he can affect the game in a variety of ways.
Justin Reynolds- He demonstrated an ability to step out on the perimeter and hit the outside jumper. He seems to have improved his body strength from a year ago. Reynolds is an excellent athlete who needs to receive more touches and look to assert himself more on the offensive end. His passing ability is rather underrated as well.
Tim Green- A long, experienced point guard that is a capable athlete. Despite his size relative to the big men on the floor, he was able to tip in misses. Also, Green attacked the basket and was able to get to the free throw line. Despite his offensive prowess, he is not a true point guard, and this could cause some trouble if he wants to continue playing basketball professionally. On defense, he had a tendency to body his opponent and this is a cause for concern because it could limit his playing time.