Sunday, August 4, 2013

Dobermans Squeak By Virginia Ball-Stars in 98-94 Thriller

Chris Wright "causes trouble" in his Doberman debut

It was about time for a nail-biter, don't you think? The DC Dobermans ran their record to 3-0 (one win away from an undefeated season) but it looked nothing like their 47-point blowout victory over North Carolina two nights before. DC held on to defeat a game Virginia Ball-Stars squad 98-94, in the most competitive contest of The-BALL Pro Basketball Series to date. The Dobermans return to Charles E. Smith Center Monday night to host Philadelphia in the final game of the season.

It took a while for DC to warm up: The Dobermans missed their first eight shots, until Austin Freeman scored a basket... ending a 4+ minute drought. Freeman, who tallied 37 and 40 points in the first two games scored 14 in the first half; but went cold in the second, finishing with 18 for the game (and on the bench for the final four minutes of a pretty close contest.)

Austin Freeman closing in for a first half slam

Luckily, former Hoya teammate Henry Sims was there to pick up the slack, chipping in a team-high 23 points. Playing without starter Tony Taylor, DC had difficulty breaking down a tough Virginia defense... settling for way too many perimeter shots. Unfortunately, Blaine Taylor's team was busy missing even more of their own shots: DC outshot VA 45.8% to 40.1% for the game. Both teams missed all 9 of their 3-point attempts in the first half... That's 0-9 each! Ouch. Virginia went into halftime with a 46-43 lead.

DC came out with renewed intensity in the second half, especially former GW standout J.R. Pinnock, who scored the team's first 10 points of the half. Meanwhile, a guy who should have been playing on the other team, former James Madison (um, that's in Virginia, right?) star Abdulai Jalloh penetrated at will, scoring and setting up teammates for easy shots. Jalloh took a great pass from ex-George Mason Patriot Jai Lewis late in the fourth quarter, and converted it into a 96-88 lead. Virginia still had a chance to send it in to overtime, but missed a last second four (after a terrible inbounds giveaway.) ODU's Frank Hassell reunited with former coach Taylor, to lead the visitors with a game-high 24 points and 10 rebounds.

Under Armour player of the game Frank Hassell (r)

As usual, there was lots to admire about my new favorite sports enterprise. Fans got their first look at a four-point free throw attempt (from 25' of course... DC's Florian Campbell missed it BTW) and an even stranger rule, that required a courtside consolation between the ref and The-BALL founder Michael Wranovics (talk about firsts.) Ex-Hoya (and 3x All-Met/St. Johns) Chris Wright made quite a first impression, intentionally fouling former VCU guard Joey Rodriguez... setting up a "penalty shot" one-on-one (Rodriguez missed) that may have been payback for VCU's defeating Georgetown in the 2011 NCAA tournament.

DC's Chris Wright breaks down Virginia defense

The Saturday night crowd (myself included) took particular delight in the halftime entertainment... a boys vs. girls matchup won by the ladies in resounding fashion (a charitable last second shot prevented a shutout.) I can't remember cheering so loudly, in a long time. Way to go ladies (see some of the team below, celebrating during a time-out.)

There's still one more chance to catch the Dobermans in action, before The-BALL puts a wrap on this season. DC hosts the Philadelphia Ball-Stars, led by Temple star (and 2x A-10 scoring champ) Dionte Christmas as well as head coach Larry Cannon monday night at 7. Great seats are still available at the GW Charles E. Smith Center box office or online (click here.)