FLORENCE, SC – Senior guard Detrek Browning scored 24 points, equaled the school's single-game three-point shooting mark, and moved into second place on the team's career scoring list while guiding unbeaten Francis Marion University to an 87-67 win over Georgia Southwestern State University, Sunday afternoon (Dec. 17) in Peach Belt Conference men's basketball action.
The Patriots up their overall mark to 7-0 and improve to 2-0 in the PBC. FMU, one of only 14 undefeated teams remaining in NCAA Division II, also received votes in both of the latest Division II national rankings.
Francis Marion will play host to Columbus State University on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in the squad's final contest before Christmas. A family of up to five members will be admitted for only $5 in the Patriots' special 5-for-5 program.
Browning connected on 7-of-9 field goal attempts, including a perfect 5-for-5 from beyond the three-point arc. That latter figure tied the school record previously accomplished seven times, the most recent by Evrik Gary on Jan. 11, 2012, against Flagler College. Browning also passed Gary to move into second place on the Patriot career scoring list with 1,790 points. Additionally, Browning also dished out three assists to take sole possession of second place on the career assists list with 347, breaking a tie with Jackie Bledsoe (1993-97).
As a team Francis Marion nailed 12-of-25 three-point attempts.
FMU junior Brandon Parker scored 16 points, while sophomore point guard Jaquez Smith added 13 points and senior forward Warren Specht 12 points and a career-high equaling eight rebounds.
Junior Devin Watson led GSW (4-2, 0-2) with 16 points, while senior Hasaan Buggs tallied 15 points and seven rebounds.
Following a pair of early two-point deficits, Francis Marion hit a trio of three-pointers by Browning and Specht (2) to take the lead for good at 15-7. The Patriots led by as many as 16 in the opening half before settling for a 42-29 halftime advantage.
A pair of free throws by Buggs to open the second stanza trimmed the margin to 11, but a three-pointer by Specht ignited a 9-2 spurt that extended the FMU lead to 18 points at 51-33. The Hurricanes did draw to within 14 points at 53-39, but a 21-9 run by Francis Marion produced a 74-48 lead with 9:27 remaining. Parker contributed nine points to the run and Browning seven.
The largest Patriot lead came at 79-50 following a fast-break lay-up by junior Ryan Davis.
Francis Marion connected on 52.4 percent of its field goal attempts, the team's fourth consecutive game over 50 percent. The Patriots were 9-of-15 at the foul line. Georgia Southwestern was held to 43.3 percent shooting from the floor, was only 5-of-22 from long range, and connected on 10-of-15 free throw attempts.
FMU forced 15 Hurricane turnovers, while committing a season-low six, which resulted in a 22-5 edge in points-off-turnovers.
Although I did take note of his son’s Chinese shoplifting expedition, I have tried to avoid thinking about the patriarch of the Ball basketball family, LaVar Ball, and the Big Baller Brand.
Kind of like when you avoid thinking of a hemorrhoid. You hope if you just ignore it, it will go away.
LaVar Ball may not be going away, but his two sons, LiAngelo and LaMelo, certainly are. It seems their father signed them up to play professional basketball in Lithuania starting in January.
They are going to play professional basketball in the Lithuanian Basketball League for the club Prienai Vytautas. Prienai is a small town of about 10,000 people located on the Neman River.
Believe it or not, I have been there. About 15 years ago, when I was the coach at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, I developed a coaching contact in Lithuania.
When my wife and I had to go to England for a wedding, I decided to fly from London to the capital city of Vilnius on Lithuanian Airlines. I still have a sugar packet and a napkin from that flight to prove it.
My coaching contact picked me up from the airport and drove me around the country to see young basketball prospects. I remember the starkness; it looked like a stereotypical Cold War country.
There were a lot of people hitchhiking along the roadway. The gyms were small and dark. The basketball players were talented.
I went to the home of one of these players and his father did not speak any English, but I understood he wanted to toast my arrival with a shot of whisky. So we toasted my arrival, and we toasted my good health, and before long I was toasted.
But that night I remember we went to see some professional players, the type guys LiAngelo, 19, and LaMelo, 16, will be playing with and against in the Lithuanian Basketball League.
They were men. Hairy chested men. They played rough and they played dirty.
LaMelo doesn’t even have any hair on his face yet. LiAngelo has a little goatee, but believe me, he and his brother are going to have a hard time lining up with these hairy chested men.
These two kids will be a long way from California. Give them a week or two and I bet they will have a greater appreciation for the United States of America.
And where will their father be? Will he join his sons in Lithuania?
If he does it will be interesting to see the Lithuanian treatment for hemorrhoids.
The Francis Marion University men’s basketball team enters the exam break with a 5-0 (6-0 if you count our exhibition win at UT-Chattanooga) overall record. We don’t play any games and practice very little while the players take their first semester exams.
There won’t be a second semester for players who don’t meet minimum NCAA academic standards. Basically, they have to pass nine credits in the fall to remain eligible in the spring.
That’s why I smiled when I saw the advertisement for Florence-Darlington Technical College’s Holiday Term. They are offering six transferable classes beginning on December 14 and ending on December 31.
These mini-term classes have always been extremely popular with college coaches and the student-athletes who may need a credit or two to remain eligible for competition. I know I have always kept a file of these offerings just in case.
Here is a post card from Northwest Missouri State. Adams State in Colorado has always had a nice variety of classes. And now I can add Florence-Darlington Tech to my list.
Having coached for a long time I of course have a wonderful mini-term story. It involves my point guard, Doren Chapman, when I was the head coach at Atlantic Christian College (now Barton) in Wilson, North Carolina.
Doren was from inner-city Baltimore and to this day one of the greatest players I ever coached. He could have played at any school in the country but needed an NAIA institution because of his grades.
After the fall semester of 1986, Doren was one credit short of being eligible for the spring. We needed to find a one credit mini-term course and we needed to find it fast.
Remember, this was before on-line classes so finding something that worked was a huge challenge. But after many hours of research my assistant coach called to say he found it!
Appalachian State was offering a one credit ski class in Boone the week after Christmas. A ski class? Doren had seen snow up in Baltimore but he didn’t know a ski from a fishing pole.
But we bought him some gloves and one of those knit hats with the ear flaps and off he went to Boone. And he stayed for a week and he must have done OK because he received an A in the class and did not break any bones.
There is no getting around it. The 45th President of the United States just loves to tweet.
He will tweet in the morning. He will tweet in the evening. He will tweet all over this land.
He will tweet out danger. He will tweet out warning. He will tweet out love between my brothers and my sisters…ok, ok, now I am losing my head.
But this week Donald Trump took the time to tweet about the three UCLA basketball players who were detained in China for shoplifting. They had the opportunity to shoplift in China because UCLA was there to play Georgia Tech in a basketball game sponsored by the e-commerce conglomerate Alibaba.
“Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you, Mr. President? They were headed for 10 years in jail.”
And just when I thought pigs couldn’t fly, the three UCLA basketball players, at a press conference held on the UCLA campus the day after their return, did indeed thank the President for helping in their expedited release.
One of the three, LiAngelo Ball, is the son of Lavar Ball, patriarch of the basket Ball family and founder of the Big Baller Brand of shoes and apparel. He likes to tweet, too, but prefers to verbalize his ignorant musings.
At the time of his son’s arrest, he commented, “Everybody is making it a big deal…it ain’t a big deal.”
So I was shocked when the three players humbly accepted responsibility for their actions, admitted how stupid an act it was, and thanked the many people who did indeed keep their collective butts out of a Shanghai prison.
But leave it to UCLA coach Steve Alford and Athletic Director Dan Guerrero to bring me back to reality. When discussing the punishment for these young men, Coach Alford said the three would be suspended “indefinitely.”
Where have we heard that before? That’s right, less than a year ago Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski suspended star guard Grayson Allen “indefinitely” for being a serial tripper out on the court.
That indefinite suspension lasted one game, a game Duke lost to Virginia Tech. And Coach Krzyzewski, a guy who is supposed to be a master coach and educator, squandered an opportunity for real teaching.
Let’s hope Steve Alford and all the good folks at UCLA don’t squander this opportunity for teaching. I hope they understand their responsibility not only to the students at their own institution, but to the young people of this country and to others around the world.
They are not off to a good start. A year’s suspension would have been a clear message. An indefinite suspension whispers so softly I can hardly hear it.
But we will wait and see. When I know more I will be sure to send out a tweet.