The Bulls were all smiles after a win at home against Southern Miss. After a devastating game in Marquette on Sunday and the loss of Marlyn Bryant, the players were in good spirits after Tuesday’s win, even going so far as to joke about Sheldon Franklin’s nickname.
“We call him ‘The Duck,'” said Reggie Kohn.
Franklin is so loud and talkative on the bench that it reminds Kohn and the players of a quacking duck.
“Quack, Quack,” was how Will McDonald explained Franklin.
‘The Duck’ was cheering his team on loudly in the closing minutes of the game.
“He was going crazy over there, and we need that kind of stuff on the bench,” said Kohn.
Not only were the players in high spirits, but coach Seth Greenberg was smiling too. Greenberg’s wife slipped him a note before the game giving him a pep talk of sorts and just encouraging him.
“I got a boost of confidence — I got a note before the game, it’s the greatest thing in the world,” said Greenberg. “When all hell breaks loose, you get a note from your wife telling you that you can do.”
For the first time
Alfred Ogden, a walk-on, got a chance to be on the court for the first time, even if it was only for 3.5 seconds. As soon as Ogden hit the court, the home crowd cheered as loud as they could. Ogden did not get a chance to touch the ball, but the players were happy to see him on the court.
Terrence Leather even gave him a hug when time ran out.
“The crowd wanted him, (and) they put him in — that’s great for Al,” Kohn said.
“He has been working hard the past couple of years,” Jimmy Baxter said.
Going in a different direction
A 3-2 zone was used in Tuesday’s game to compensate for the lineup and position changes. The Bulls were forced into playing the zone after sustaining injuries in Sunday’s game and having players fill in unfamiliar positions.
“You gotta play with the hand you’re dealt,” coach Seth Greenberg said.
The 3-2 was effective, holding the Golden Eagles to only 36.4 percent from the field and 15.8 percent from behind the arc.
Fouls seemed to be a weakness in a rather strong defense. McDonald and Yusuf Baker both posted four fouls, while Brandon Brigman fouled out of the game with 4:21 on the clock. Forceful playing in the post seemed to be one of the major causes.
“We were just over aggressive,” Baxter said.
Hard play wasn’t the only cause of the fouls, but the seldom-used 3-2 zone opened up opportunities for USM to draw some fouls out.
“(USM) threw different things at our 3-2,” Kohn said. “We haven’t played it that much.”
Baker, who had been questionable for Tuesday’s game due to a rolled ankle, healed quickly and was able to play. Even though Baker only played seven minutes, he was able to post two defensive boards.
“He’s a freak,” said Greenberg, referring to his ability to heal and tolerate pain. “He’s got an unbelievable body.”