Monday, December 07, 2009

The Twelve Days of Gheorghe-mas, Day Three

On the third day of Gheorghe-mas, Big Gheorghe gave to me...

Three Saluki Tallies

Two Recurring Features
And a Doofus Dancing (hee, hee)

This is what we talk about, when we talk about love. Er, when we talk about the glories of Futile Superfandom. The past two weekends have provided William and Mary sports fans with a generation's worth of highlights. And if you find that a touch hyperbolic, perhaps you haven't been following Tribe hoops as closely as we have.

One week after the Tribe gridders easily topped Weber State and the men's basketball five stunned Wake Forest in Winston-Salem (the first W&M win over an ACC foe since 1984, or about one generation ago), both teams were back at it.

Jimmye Laycock's boys allowed a 34-yard scamper by Southern Illinois quarterback Paul McIntosh on the game's opening play. The Salukis capitalized, kicking a field goal on the same drive to take an early 3-0 lead. And after that, bupkis. W&M's defense gave up 85 yards in the final three quarters, allowing only 11 rushing yards and six first downs in that span. Saluki running back Deji Karim came into the game second in Division I-AA in rushing yards per game, averaging 138.8, and left with 12 carries for 27 yards. On the other side of the ball, W&M tailback Jonathan Grimes gained 133 yards and scored three touchdowns to pace the Tribe to a 24-3 win.

This W&M defense is a revelation. If any one of a half-dozen Laycock teams of yesteryear had a similarly stingy group of defenders, the ticker tape parade down Duke of Gloucester Street would be routine. William and Mary boasts the nation's top-ranked rush defense and the second-ranked unit in terms of total yards and points per game. Tribe opponents score a meager 11.92 points per game. We're through the looking glass here, folks.

While their football counterparts were advancing to the national semifinals, Tony Shaver's were busy rolling over to neighborhood bully VCU. The Rams took a 40-27 lead into the break, prompting a rash of rueful head-shaking from a fan base that'd seen this movie before. Funny thing happened on the way to another blowout loss - David Schneider and the Tribe went on a 22-11 run to get back into the game and eventually won, 75-74 on a Schneider free throw. The senior guard's having an All-CAA early season, ranking in the top 10 in scoring (2nd) and rebounding (8th - 2nd in defensive boards).

But Schneider's not the entire story. The Tribe's offensive execution has been superb. Ken Pomeroy, the dean of hoops statisticians, ranks W&M the second most-efficient offense in the nation. W&M has 125 assists to 95 turnovers in 8 games - a critical stat for a team that won't beat anyone through athleticism. They make opponents work on the defensive end, knock down 45% of their shots (and a very good 41% from three), and don't beat themselves. Early days, still, but they've got our attention.

The hoops squad goes to the back of the line for a few weeks (upcoming games against Vassar and Radford don't register much on the hype-o-meter, though the New Year's Eve Eve tilt at Maryland will find Team G:TB in attendance) while Tribe football travels to Villanova for a shot at the National Championship game.

For W&M fans, it's the most wonderful time of a great many years.

33 comments:

mayhugh said...

Very deserved post. The Tribe football defense is inspiring. On the pass rush, they get a great push from their front four, especially on the outside from their ends. That allows them to drop a lot of guys into coverage, where against the Salukis pretty much every pass was contested with a hand or a well-timed hit.

The chink in their armor is the flat - if a mobile QB can get past their front four they have trouble getting to him before the sticks. So. Illinois did not have enough versatility to fully take advantage of it, as their QB is not a passing threat. I'm nervous about facing a less one-dimensional signal-caller as they move on, but that was a fun game to watch.

Grimes looks and plays like he's still in high school. Not really built like a grinder (hey, it's FCS) but his legs are always churning and he makes good contact with the first defenseman. It looked like So Illinois got sick and tired of tackling him. Grimes work between the tackles tenderized the D, which allowed Courtland Marriner, a more shifty tail back, a little more space to run late in the game.

Jerry mentioned it in a prior post, but this team takes a little while to settle down and figure out what the other team is throwing at them, from what I've seen (a total of 3 games and change). It's crucial that Nova not get off to a fast start. Tribe needs to be able to take advantage of Grimes and the ground game and I don't have full trust in Archer if he has to drop back and throw to catch up. I'd also note that the O-line was on their heels early in the game, but they seemed to settle down to allow more designed rollouts to work.

TR said...

I really hope we've found something with our defense because Villanova absolutely kicked our ass in Philly earlier this Fall. It's the only game I watched start-to-finish this year and they looked much better than us. The Tribe NEVER EVER EVER wins when I watch them play on television, so perhaps I should leave ESPN2 off of the TV that night.

Shlara said...

Did you see in today's WaPo that Gary Williams is worried about the game with the Tribe?

rob said...

so gary's basically calling the w&m game a must-win for the terps? my, but our little tribe is all growns up.

rob said...

not real disappointed to see mike london get the uva job

zoltan said...

Has anyone else seen "Jersey Shore" on MTV? It's fantastic. It's like a sociology class discussion come to life. And the reputational harms it will cause to the state of New Jersey, Italians, steroid use, and pushup bras may be irreparable.

Mark said...

I watched the entire first episode Zoltan. It's wince inducing and amazing all at once. My girlfriend (who's very, very italian) said it's taking her people back 3 steps as an ethnic group. That being said, she couldn't stop watching it either.

I was hoping for some more attractive and sluttier girls though.

TR said...

I grew up 15 miles from that town and I went to high school with at least 50 people who could have filled in on that show. The number of dudes in my high school who went tanning before proms and big dances was astronomically depressing.

Guidos used to be funny in the 80's and 90's. They drove Camaros, showed chest hair and wore white Reebok high tops witgh their Bum Equipment shirts. Unfortunately, the popularity of ecstasy and the morphing of guido culture and gay club culture (no body hair, jacked up physiques, love of roids, drugs, tank-tops, techno and bad ink) has pushed guidos into a whole new level of awful.

TR said...

I would write more on this, but I have an 11:30 appointment to get my eyebrows and forearms waxed.

Mark said...

I was amazed that there was a "guido culture", and that there were huge numbers of people who pride themselves on being a Guido (or Guidette) as I had always thought of guido as an insult. I had no idea this subsection of society existed.

TR said...

So Mark has probably not frequented this site a lot:

http://www.guidofistpump.com/

zoltan said...

And that, Mark, is the difference between FL and NJ. Every locale has rednecks. Guidos are the rednecks of the tri-state area. It's an odd phenotype of redneck, but it's a phenotype nonetheless.

Mark said...

Sounds about right. I was just amazed that the culture was so widespread. I want to know more. I'm thinking that maybe I'll go back to school and do a thesis on the guido culture.

Greg said...

There needs to be a show that highlights the differences between Italians, (who are pussies who sing songs, drive scooters and wear scarves to the beach) and Italian-Americans.

Dave said...

one of my students came in to class today and happily informed me that william and mary had won a football game (i must have mentioned that i went there).

Whitney said...

Excellent post, Rob -- I had a fantastic Tribe Saturday. Watched the Tribe roll over the Salukis, then watched the recorded hoops victory. A few thoughts...

Football:

- The play of the defense cannot be overstated. SIU's offense was rolling over opponents, including throwing 47 on the board in their first-round game. Holding them to three was unthinkable, especially after not just that first play but that entire 1st quarter. Loved the adjustments, and SIU's game plan seemed to get more frustrated and foolhardy with every drive.

- We got nearly every call Saturday. Either we're very disciplined, or we were damn lucky. A couple of huge flags, especially a late personal foul on SIU that negated a drive-stopping play and nailed the game shut when it was still in question.

- Loved the fake punt. After Laycock was hammered a bit for his playcalling two weeks ago at Richmond, he called a brilliant game Saturday, including the trickery.

- The Villanova game TR referenced got out of hand early after a long play, a pick in the end zone, and two game-changing personal foul calls. We also made adjustments that game, and by the second half we looked strong, but we'd given up too much to a very good football team. If we can avoid some of those early costly mistakes, I think we will give them a game. Keep any deficit under 10 in the first half and I like our chances to make it work in the latter.

Basketball:

- We had no business winning that game. Zero. VCU was channeling Jon Lovitz, "I can't believe we're losing to these guys." The Rams were better shooters who dominated inside as well as on the perimeter. It didn't look like a conference game. Somehow our spazzy mcgees stole this one. And I guess that's our M.O. every time out.

- We got no calls all day long (until the very last play). And you can see why. The aforementioned spazzy mcgees LOOK like they're fouling, even when they're not, and when their bigger, more skilled players missed a shot, it seemed like the refs concluded that they must've obviously been fouled. Doesn't happen to Duke's little white wieners, but it happens to W&M's.

- The last 30 seconds of the game were enough to make any youth league coach show the tape as "30 Seconds of How Not to Play basketball." Tribe up 4, 30 ticks to go. VCU begins to drive the lane, Danny Sumner gets whistled for a reach. Idiotic.

VCU makes 'em both, as they didn't miss anything from the line down the stretch. (As opposed to our choking goobers.) Tribe up 2.

We get fouled and make 1 of 2. Lucky to get that. VCU comes down and looks to take a tying 3, but instead decides with :12 or so to go to drive the lane.

They dunk (something we did not do the entire 40 minutes). Danny Sumner fouls the dunker. Inexplicably idiotic.

3-point play converted (natch). Tie game. The 27 or 28 Tribe fans in William & Mary Hall are deflated. if this thing goes OT, VCU wins by 12.

Schneider comes down and immediately gets into trouble. Doubled just inside the trey line, he's got nowhere to go, and is quickly getting out of control. There's a travel, a turnover, or a prayer about to happen for sure.

And then the VCU defender reaches over Schneider's head to try to either grab the ball or decapitate the kid. Horrrrible decision. Obvious foul, sending the Tribester to the line with 3 ticks remaining. VCU saw our two dumb, lead-blowing plays and raised us one moronic, game-losing play.

Schneider rattles home 1 of 2 (barely), then the Rams get way too good a look at an open 3, but it clangs away. Tribe wins, and a couple dozen people rejoice. Seriously, what W&M dweebs are at that game when the football team is playing a playoff game on TV???

This team has some scrap. Not a ton of discernible ball skills, but some spunk, a tad of playmaking ability, and a whole lot of gawky heart.

Mark said...

To piggyback on Gregs point, I feel like there should be a show or DVD that all Italian-Americans should have to watch so they can be made aware of what pussies their brethren from the motherland are.

Whitney said...

But piggybacking on Greg is macho. Damn straight.

rob said...

w&m mascot finalists unveiled tomorrow morning:

http://www.wm.edu/about/mascot/?svr=web

c'mon fighting wren

Mark said...

Oh Whitney...your barbs never get old. Or predictable.

zoltan said...

The Teej wanted me to piggyback on Whitney's barb but I don't get down like that.

Whitney said...

New UVA head coach Mike London coached the William & Mary D-Line when we (the elders) were in school. Presumably Virginia wants him so they can figure out how to beat Duke next year.

rob said...

i think uva wants him so they can figure out how to beat w&m. aww, yeah.

Greg said...

Whit, Rob, Rezzo....the 2009 Santa Stumble is calling...

rob said...

is it calling with a date/time/starting location?

Mark said...

Nobody, and I mean nobody pushes the Santa Stumble like Greg. He's even advertising for it on his FB page. you planning on defacing any Sheraton lobbies at this year's event Greg?

TR said...

What's Rezzo? I want to believe that it's me smushed with Carmine "the Big Ragoo" Ragusa.

zoltan said...

Rezzo's the kid from Sleepers who got killed after the football game.

Geoff said...

I like all the guys on this site...Rezzo, Zippy, Tomasulo, Whiskey, Dendo, Tattoodles, and Ronnie the nut gathering chipmunk.

rob said...

your william & mary tribe men's basketball squad received votes in the ap and espn/usa today top 25 this week. these are heady times, boys and girls.

rob said...

fox sports radio is shitcanning czabe in favor of stephen a smith effective 12/23. this is a fucking outrage.

Mark said...

No, Rob. What you mean to say was:

"THIS! IS A FUCKING OUTRAGE!!! SOMEBODY PASS ME THOSE CHEEZ DOODLES!!!!"

zoltan said...

Trevor Pryce is still in the league?!