Beating Up On Cameron
|Image via mysa.com (Edward Ornelas)|
After a hearty Thanksgiving break of eating ice cream sandwiches and playing poker in my hometown, I woke up early this AM to drive back up to SA to catch this game against a Division II opponent, something I probably wouldn’t have done if UTSA had another home game in the next two months. I was privileged enough to watch the game with UTSA internet vanguard and all-around great guy forerunner. We were having a light-hearted argument about Tyler Woods’ value to the team (as some of you know, I’m a big fan of Tyler’s no-non sense, blue collar play) and wouldn’t you know it, Tyler knocked down a sharp trey as soon as I bring up his great outside shot.
Playing DII teams is funny. You’re expected to win and the final score doesn’t count for much unless it’s embarrassingly close, but you can use these games as a litmus test of a team’s heart. Going into the locker room losing to a DII school team is shit. This UTSA team knew it, and came back and slapped Cameron silly. You know what great teams do when they play teams from lesser divisions? They beat them to a pulp. And perhaps metaphorical for the entire team itself at this point in the season, UTSA did that for one half in a 76-48 victory. And what a half it was. One-time McDonalds All-American nominee Jordan Sims exploded for a career high 14 points on the back of four beautiful corner threes. With mainstays Jeromie Hill and Melvin Johnson III struggling offensively, Brooks Thompson must be thrilled to have double-digit scoring coming from unlikely sources. Sims was a highly regarded Arizonian high school recruit that averaged just under 20 points a game before coming to UTSA. Let’s hope this is indicative of what’s to come for the 6’4 swingman in the coming years.
If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to buy tickets to the Kannon Burrage show. The $5 you pay to get into the Convocation Center is redeemed after you see Burrage run the court a couple of times. I’ve said it many, many times, but it bears repeating that Burrage is another flight above any player that has ever suited up for the orange and blue. There may have been better basketball players (Gibson, Hurd, Gervin) but I highly doubt any player for UTSA has had Burrage’s explosiveness and ability to create shots. I swear to Bill Russell, the kid can levitate. He can do things like this in mid-air. He shoots the rock from his right shoulder like a ten year old shooting a half court shot, yet Kannon the Inkredible still manages to bury 20 foot shots with ease and repetition. Burrage had an off day on Sunday with a measly 13 points to drop his average to 16.1. From the bench.
The Roadrunner “50” defense tonight was fantastic. When the team’s energy level is high, the only way to beat their halfcourt zone-trap is to have a hot shooter on the backside that can catch a cross-court pass and fire in less than the .5 second it takes for a Roadrunner to back-fill to the ball. As we saw with Cezar Guerrero in the OSU game, some times that happens. Most of the time it won’t. UTSA held the Cameron Aggies to 19 points in the second half. It took the Aggies nine minutes to score in the second half as UTSA went on a 23 point run. You can generate ridiculous runs like that when your bench provides nearly 40 points. This Roadrunner team is ten deep, homey. Oh and shooting 86% from the charity stripe makes a big difference as well. Just look at yesterday’s Pepperdine game to see what happens when you don’t fulfill that obligation. Brief aside: props to Cameron for busting out the street-ball trap break play. Several dudes got you pinned in the corner? Just throw the ball off their foot and out of bounds.
Perhaps the biggest question for Roadrunner fans is what is going on with Melvin Johnson? He’s averaging 9.2 points this year and shooting 38.1% from three this year. Not bad, sure, but that’s not Melvin. Maybe missing the first round of the NIT tournament throw him off-balance. The emergence of Burrage as the team’s go-to scorer could have rattled his security. I can’t give you an answer to what’s going on in MJIII’s head, but something is quite clearly off in his game and I’m not sure Brooks’ 30 second timeout that he used to loudly and emotionally berate MJIII helped any. Is it a mechanics issue? I don’t think so. As the adage goes, when shooters get into slumps, they keep shooting. Let’s hope Johnson does just that. He knows his talent and he knows his shot. He’ll get there. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go off next game. He sank a late, semi-contested trey and came up with a wry grin after he sank the shot. It was very, very Ray Allen.
We’ll see you guys next on Wednesday night, as UTSA faces future WAC buddy San Jose State at 9 pm CST. UTSA beat SJSU 72-63 in the Convo last year. SJSU is ranked 291st in RPI with a 2-3 record. Wins against Holy Names (???) and UC Irvine. Losses to Cal Poly, USF (OT), and Santa Clara. San Jose will face Montana State at home on Monday before hosting the Roadrunners. Check back on Wednesday night for a poppin’ live chat.
Editor extraordinaire, UTSA grad student. Twitter