After every men and women’s basketball games, The Appalachian will be breaking down the Mountaineers positions for grades
Game One on November 11 at 3:30 p.m: App State men vs. Toccoa Falls
Final Score: App State 135 Toccoa Falls 41
Throughout the game, the App State guards continuously had their way with Toccoa Falls. The duo of junior guard Ronshad Shabazz and freshman guard Justin Forrest led the charge combining for 39 points and seven assists. As a team, they were repeatedly able to drive to the basket uncontested and and pull up anytime and anywhere they wanted with little to no defense to deal with. The App State guards also were able to contribute on the other end of the floor recording several steals helping hold the opponent to a game total of 34 points. The only area keeping the guards from a perfect grade was a couple of sloppy plays leading to turnovers which could have really turned the tide in a closer game.
The forwards were able to completely take over the game against Toccoa Falls. Although the leading scorer junior forward Tyrell Johnson only scored 14 points, it was what they did on the glass and defensively that really shined. The starting forwards combined for 19 rebounds, eight of which led to second chance points which helped the team out-rebound their opponent 76-24. The Mountaineers were also able to dominate defensively contesting every shot Toccoa could get off helping hold them to a 15.9 percent field goal percentage for the game.
Senior Griffin Kinney and junior Jake Wilson played as close to a perfect game as you can get. Together they used their size advantage to combine for an impressive 20 points and 18 rebounds, essentially taking over the game. They were also able to control the paint on the defensive end, forcing Toccoa to repeatedly settle for jump shots. The most impressive thing about this is they were able to do it without committing a turnover the entire game and only committing four fouls. If they continue this level of play, App State will control the paint all year.
Player of game: Ronshad Shabazz
Shabazz earned player of the game honors against Toccoa Falls. Shabazz led all scorers with 24 points and dished out five assists which was good for second on the team. Shabazz was able to get to the basket consistently when he wanted and was able to pull up from three with ease. Shabazz combined his offensive output with a solid game defensively contesting every shot he was near and recording a steal.
As a unit, the Appalachian State men’s basketball team looked like a well oiled machine Saturday. They completely dominated both ends of the court especially on offense, putting up a school record 135 points. They were able to get the ball inside when they wanted and completely shot the lights out from three point line hitting 20 of 39 attempts. The only negatives that can be taken away from this performance is a couple of times they played a little too fast leading to sloppy turnovers and they struggled consistently making free throws, things that can come back to haunt you in a close game.
Story By: Chase Frick, Intern Sports Reporter
Photos By: Hayley Canal
Game Two on November 12 at 3:30 p.m: App State men vs. Bridgewater College
Final Score: App State 95 Toccoa Falls 57
Sophomore O’Showen Williams and junior Ronshad Shabazz led the way for the Mountaineers in the second game of their back-to-back blowout victories. Williams, the junior college transfer in his first year with Appalachian, finished with 17 points to go along with four rebounds and an impressive six steals. Williams gave the Bridgewater guards all they could handle, locking them down on defense, forcing steals and finishing in transition at will. Shabazz, the Mountaineers’ leading scorer and third-team all-Sun Belt selection a season ago, finished with a team high 25 points, four assists and three steals. Shabazz was efficient, shooting 7/11 from the floor, 3/4 from beyond the arc and 8/11 from the charity stripe and finishing with an outstanding plus or minus of 36. Although Shabazz and Williams dominated, the rest of the guards were not quite as impressive, amassing seven turnovers and finishing a combined 1-12 from the floor.
Junior Tyrell Johnson played well out of the forward slot, finishing second on the team with 20 points, two blocks and seven rebounds. The 6-foot-9-inch forward out of Atlanta also knocked down two out of four 3-pointers. Sophomore Isaac Johnson also added seven points, three rebounds, two assists, one block and one steal. The forwards, like much of the rest of the team, could have done better with ball security as the position combined for seven turnovers.
Even though there is just one true center listed on App State’s roster, a few players play like centers. Senior Griffin Kinney got the start and played well when he was on the court, finishing with six points and five rebounds. Kinney was in foul trouble much of the game and ended up up playing only 11 minutes in the game. Junior Jake Wilson had an efficient defensive outing outing, grabbing a team high of 10 rebounds, including six on the offensive end, and protected the rim with three blocks in the contest. The center position also contributed to the turnover woes, with five as a unit.
Player of the game: Ronshad Shabazz
Shabazz showed why he was named to the preseason second team all-Sun Belt unit in this game, basically getting whatever he wanted against the Bridgewater defense. Shabazz is the clear-cut leader of this Mountaineer squad and he will be a major part of the offense as the season progresses. Shabazz is a terrific scorer, able facilitator and he seldomly turns the ball over when looking inside for posts or kicking the ball out to perimeter shooters on the drive. The Huntington Prep product can also knock down the long range jumper himself and penetrate with ease.
Overall team grade: B+
App State did what they needed to do against a Division III opponent, scored at will and came out on top with a dominating performance from buzzer to buzzer. However, they turned the ball over 20 times and struggled a little bit with the multiple defensive sets Bridgewater showed. They were able to beat the press the majority of the time, but sometimes tried to force passes when they simply were not there. The Mountaineers also got whistled for 26 fouls in the contest and will need to play smarter defense in order to beat some of the higher quality opponents on the schedule. On the bright side, they played great defense themselves, forcing 25 turnovers and holding the Eagles to just 31.1 percent shooting from the floor. If they are able to keep up their high level of defensive intensity and continue to be patient and score efficiently, watch out for the Mountaineers to surprise some people around the college basketball universe.
Story By: Silas Albright, Sports Reporter