Appalachian (1-1) travels to Big South Opponent Campbell (1-1) in its first road game of the season. Last year, Appalachian slipped by the Camels at home in a close game, winning 77-74. The Mountaineers are coming off an ugly loss at home to High Point. The on court energy was non-existent against the Panthers, as High Point made a point to embarrass the Mountaineers. High Point was projected to finish in fourth place in Big South, while Campbell has been tabbed as the Big South favorite in their division.
Darren White and Trey Freeman are all conferfence selections for the Camels. White scored twenty or more points ten times last season while also hitting double digits in twenty-eight games. White was second on the team at 16.8 points per game. White began his college career at James Madison before transferring to Midland Junior College, where he played with Mountaineer guard Jamaal Trice. White recorded a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds in the Camels last outing against Northwestern State. Freeman led all Big South freshman in scoring at 13.9 points per game and was named the Big South Conference Freshman of the Year. Freeman also led the conference in foul shooting at 87%, which was also good enough for 26th nationally.
Darian Hooker is another Camel that the Mountaineers will need to keep a close eye one. Hooker led Campbell in scoring last year at 17.9 points per game. Hooker is deadly from three point range, shooting 46% from long distance last year, after shooting 38% during his freshman season.
Appalachian will need to rebound from its first loss of the season and simply put it behind them. The Mountaineers will need better games from their seniors. Nathan Healy and Jamaal Trice need to show some leadership and will this team to a better effort, at minimum. Jay Canty cannot do this all by himself. Another player is going to have to emerge as a second scoring threat before Mike Neal returns from suspension. Chris Burgess had a nice game against High Point, but is still very rough around the edges.
It does not appear we will get a spread for this game. Campbell only garnered two lines last year, in the massive BracketBuster event against Northwestern State and in the first game of their conference tournament against Winthrop. Both of those lines were a point or less and Campbell lost on the court and on the books in both games. Most certainly, we can begin our picks next week with East Carolina and Virginia Tech. I fully expect the Mountaineers to be double digit underdogs in both games.
Appalachian started the game with turnovers on its first three possessions and Campbell never looked back as they never trailed in the game. The story of the game was red hot shooting percentage from the Camels, who shot 66.7% from the field for the game. Essentially, that is making two of every three shots taken. The Camels ended the game with 42 made field goals, with twenty-six of those baskets being assisted. The Camels also enjoyed a 54-34 advantage in the paint and a 23-0 edge on fast breaks.
Darren White was magnificent for the Camels. White poured in a career high 36 points while snagging seven rebounds. Darian Hooker added 17 points and five assists while Reco McCarter added thirteen points for the Camels.
We talked about wanting to see more from the seniors and they responded. Nathan Healy scored 18 points on 7/9 shooting including two three pointers while grabbing six rebounds. Jamaal Trice scored 14 points off the bench, but did manage to play 36 minutes in the game. Trice added seven assists, but the rest of the Mountaineers could only manage seven assists. Tevin Baskin also came off the bench to play 28 minutes and scored 18 points and added seven rebounds. Tab Hamilton quietly scored 18 points himself, hitting a trio of three pointers.
Adding to the Campbell’s hot shooting, Appalachian played poor defense in transition and in the half court. That is evidenced by the Camels scoring over half of their points in the paint. The Mountaineers have no true inside presence, so we may see more of that in the future. Michael Obacha has been thrown in the fire it will take him some time. It is not Obacha’s fault though. Brian Okam seems to get in his own way more than anything. Okam did not see the floor against Campbell. Chris Burgess came back down to earth after his best performance of the season against High Point. Burgess played 23 minutes, turning the ball over five times and only recording one assist and scoring two points. Burgess and the Mountaineers must get into an offense that requires more passing of the ball, and working as a team, rather than a dribbling contest. On a couple occasions, Burgess left his feet as a passer, and that does not work in the college game when you are only 5’8″.
Appalachian has now begun its season with two double digit lopsided losses to Big South teams. The Mountaineers only win is over a NAIA Montreat. At this rate, it may be a while before Appalachian records its first Division I win of the season. It appears this entire season will come down to the SoCon Tourney in March. The Mountaineers will have to be playing their best basketball of the season at that point.