The High Point Panthers are currently sitting 4th in the North division of the Big South Conference at 3-3, after entering the season as the favorite to win the North division by most major outlets.
Get to Know High Point.
The big picture. I'd like to take a second to make note of one of the bigger stories surrounding High Point right now.
"The story of High Point senior forward Allan Chaney is one college basketball fans may be familiar with. After transferring to Virginia Tech from Florida Chaney was told by doctors in 2010 that a case of viral mycarditis, an infection that results in inflammation of the heart, would end his basketball career.
The road back to the court was a long and difficult one, as even with his being cleared by doctors after the implanting of a wireless internal defibrillator Chaney was not cleared to play at Virginia Tech. He would eventually wind up at High Point, where last season he averaged 14.5 points and 8.1 rebounds per game on a team that won a share of the Big South regular season title and finished with an overall record of 17-14."
Chaney collapsed mid-game on December 24th when his defibrillator went off as a Wofford player was lining up to shoot a pair of free throws. As fans who have experienced the heartache of watching Jeff Green fighting through similar struggles, I think this is something we can all appreciate. I think I speak for everyone in wishing this young man the best. He is not expected to face Georgetown.
What I learned from Wikipedia.
When the college opened (1924), the campus consisted of three buildings, attended by nine faculty members, with a student enrollment of 122. Each night, students and professors living on the High Point College campus gathered in the foyer of Roberts Hall and socialized with one another.
The College declared bankruptcy in 1934. During World War II, the College hosted the 326th College Training Detachment of the U.S. Army Air Force. Financial stability ultimately returned by 1945.
The team's official mascot is "Prowler the Panther," which is the most overtly creepy name for a college mascot I've ever heard.
Tubby Smith is an alumnus.
Roster rundown. The Panthers have a nice mix of experienced seniors and talented underclassmen that has propelled them to a solid 3-3 record thus far.
Back court. The backcourt is the weaker of the High Point units despite the team having 10 guards compared to only 5 forwards. Sophomore Adam Weary is the standout in the group with his 12.5 points per game; he has scored double digits in every game he's played in this season. Weary struggles to do much outside of scoring though, and is averaging an outrageous 4.0 fouls per game. Senior point guard Dejuan McGaughy is currently averaging 5.5 points and 3.4 assists per game and matched his career high with 6 assists against SF Austin in the Panthers last game. The team has a major liability in senior guard Derrell Edwards, who is averaging 23.2 minutes per game despite shooting an atrocious 28.0% from the field.
Front court. Sophomore stud John Brown mans down the frontcourt for the Panthers. Brown is averaging 21.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.0 steals, and 2.2 blocks while shooting 63.6% from the field and 80% from the stripe. He is quite possibly the most explosive player the Big South Conference has ever seen. Joining him in the frontcourt, when healthy, is Allan Chaney, the team's second best player, who is averaging 15.4 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.0 steals on the season while shooting an almost identical 63.5% from the field and 84.6% from the stripe. High Point coach Scott Cherry went with Lorenzo Cugini in the starting lineup in HPU's lone game without Chaney, so he will be the likely starter against the Hoyas. Cugini is averaging 7.6 points and 3.4 rebounds as a reserve.
High Point on twitter. A little sneak peak at John Brown. Yikes.
What to watch when the Panthers have the ball.
- Panther: John Brown. This kid is going to have a major impact on both ends of the floor, but even more so on offense. He hasn't scored under 18 points or grabbed less than 8 rebounds all season, and has shot better than .600 in all but 1 game. He's incredibly efficient in the post and I'm already struggling to come to terms with the thought of a Lubick/Smith frontcourt trying to contain him.
- Hoya: Mikael Hopkins. Hopkins is the best fit to handle Brown, and in that regard I'm expecting him to play more than usual this game and be a big factor on the defensive end. Lubick has improved defensively, but not nearly enough to handle Brown's athleticism. I would assume Thompson realizes Lubick and Hopkins have a much better chance of containing Brown than anything involving Josh Smith.
- Number. Field goal percentage. The Panthers shoot 51.1% from the field as a team, good for 17th in the nation. Of the team's top 5 scorers, only one has a field goal percentage below 57.5%. They score only 3 points less per game than Georgetown too, so it isn't like they aren't shooting. This is a well-coached team that will take what the defense gives it.
- Feeling delusional because... No Allan Chaney down low might be a bit too much for the Panthers to overcome. Chaney took a lot of offensive pressure off John Brown and Adam Weary, and without his presence Georgetown will be a lot more adept at handling these two.
- Feeling cynical because... This is an underrated team with an established star and a couple of solid role players. John Brown is dominant from a bunch of places on the floor and the team has a couple streaky shooters in Adam Weary and Devante Wallace who could make the Hoyas pay for collapsing too hard.
What to watch when the Hoyas have the ball.
- Hoya: D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera: Smith is a long-range bomber shooting the ball at an astounding 53.1% from beyond the arc this season. He recently followed up 26 points and 4 steals against VCU with 17 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists against Lipscomb. It is DSR who has emerged as the Hoya most likely to challenge Doug McDermott for the Big East MVP this season, and it's mainly for his work on the offensive end.
- Panther: Lorenzo Cugini. He's filling in for Allan Chaney in the frontcourt, and although Cugini is a very solid player, his inexperience has the potential to make him a major liability. The 6'7, 225 pound Cugini might actually be tasked with trying to handle Josh Smith down low, as well.
- Number. Free Throws. As a team Georgetown shoots a solid 71.4% from the field, and free throws will be the easiest way to put High Point out of the game. With no Allan Chaney down low and a bunch of guards very beatable off the dribble, DSR, Starks and Trawick would be wise to attack the rim relentlessly and hopefully even get John Brown in foul trouble.
- Feeling delusional because... High Point's backcourt will be way more overmatched than Georgetown's frontcourt. Starks, DSR and Trawick should have no trouble getting by the first line of the Panthers defense, and I suspect they'll have a big day beyond the arc as well.
- Feeling cynical because... Starks is really struggling shooting the ball right now. Over his last 4 games he is 14-48 from the field and 5-23 from 3-point land. I don't believe this is a long-term issue at all, but it's not hard to see that Starks is in a bit of a slump right now. We'll need him to play solid basketball to close out an underrated Panthers team.
All signs point to the Panthers being a bit too overmatched in this game now that Allan Chaney is out of the game, but the Hoyas are far from out of the water. This is still a good team, and the loss of Chaney is not going to completely change that. John Brown is the real deal, but if he can't get good help in today's game from Adam Weary and Lorenzo Cugini, it will be a long game for High Point. Georgetown should (hopefully) not have too much of a problem in this one.