December 2, 2010

UC Commit Shaq Thomas entangled

A string of technical fouls prompted a spontaneous exodus from the playing floor Wednesday night. With 34 seconds remaining on the game clock, a frustrated bunch of NIA Prep players and coaches left the court effectively forfeiting to Maine Central Institute, 90-79.

The circumstances preceding the walk-off harkened back five game minutes.

NIA Prep's Head Coach Rudy King was frustrated with defensive clutching and grabbing by both Adam Thoseby(England) and Ivan Filipan(Holland). The duo held King's star wing Shaquille Thomas to eight second half points.

With NIA Prep trailing by seven, Thoseby flailed and fell out of bounds. His gesture appeared overly dramatic, reminding of the worst and most shameful element of every World Cup…flopping.

When Thoseby returned to the floor he immediately crumbled to the floor, accusing Shamoree Strawn of punching him in the crotch. As the play took place only a few feet in front of the MCI bench Head Coach Dave Campbell loudly scolded Strawn shouting "If you ever punch my player in the (expletive removed) again I will punch you in the face."

No band, a smallish cheering section, and fewer than five parents made for a quiet, mildly amused crowd. The outburst was easily heard throughout the entire gym.

Coach King instantly asked the officials why the coach's threat did not warrant a technical foul, or more. The officials returned only blank stares. The game resumed as Thoseby crawled into the corner and attempted to heal.

Attempting to extend the basketball game, NIA Prep continually fouled MCI's guards sending them to the free throw line. After one particular made free throw Ryan Rhoomes tipped the ball as it came through the net. The official told him to retrieve the ball which squirted away. Rhoomes refused. The official asked again and when Rhoomes gave the same response he was charged with a technical foul.

The entire NIA Prep team began to feel cheated.

Less than a minute later Rhoomes fouled an MCI point guard at the free throw line. Somehow he was whistled for an intentional foul and Thomas loudly inquired 'Are you serious?'

Thomas was pinned with a T. As the Eagles walked back to their bench, clearing the floor for the technicals Shaq, Kelvin Amayo, and their teammates continued walking straight into the locker room.

The players were beckoned by Coach King to return to the floor seconds later, only to shake hands and leave again. Because NIA Prep was no longer fielding a team the game was called a final.

Actual basketball

NIA Prep and MCI are two evenly matched teams. In two games this fall the squads have split, with NIA stealing the opener in overtime and MCI pulling away late Wednesday night 90-79.

Leading by 10 points with just under six minutes left, MCI allowed Shaq Thomas to post in the paint on 6'5" British import Thoseby. Thomas simply caught the bounce pass, turned, and elevated for a pair of easy four footers.

"On the perimeter you obviously see that every time I go to the hole they were doubling or closing in because we played them already," said Thomas. "And their scout was at our game yesterday. I think if I get the ball down low I can go straight up or make good passes."

If only Thomas could have established the low post game earlier, NIA might have held the upper hand.

The 4-0 Thomas burst closed the gap to 78-72. Moments later NIA Prep fouled a three-point shooter, who effortlessly buried all three free throws. In truth, this play was the back breaker as it gave MCI a nine point advantage with two minutes left.

All game Thomas tried to take his smaller defender into the paint. Whether Thomas was not showing a big enough target or Amayo and David Joseph could not find the right angle the passes just sailed wide each time.

An uncomfortable amount of turnovers, four to be exact, could be traced to the simple act of feeding Shaq Thomas in the post.

The NIA Prep Eagles were led by Amayo and springy wing Deon Maddox. Thinner than Shaq, Maddox can soar through the air. His shooting range was evident against MCI too.

Thomas finished the game with 21 points, but struggled to find a groove in the second half. It took the stringy forward nearly 16 game minutes to begin his second half scoring.

"I guess I am the key dude on the team, so the defense is going to focus on me," said Thomas. "Like you see today they were keying on me a lot."

Not only were the MCI defenders guarding Thomas very tight, they were clutching and grabbing around screens and through traffic. There will be some of that at the college level, but it certainly appeared like Thomas was literally held down by Thoseby.

"While I was trying to set a screen, they were putting two hands on me," said Thomas. "They couldn't do that but the ref wasn't calling it, so I was just playing through it."

To become the scorer he can be at the Big East level Thomas will have to pack on a lot of weight, both muscle and fat. The Bearcat coaches are constantly telling him to eat. Advice always centers around gaining weight and lifting weights.

The skills are there.

Final Line:
21 points
6-13 FG (0-1 3pt)
9-10 FT's
8 turnovers
4 blocks
4 fouls (1 technical)
8 fouls drawn
2 rebounds

Thomas allowed 9 points against, on 4-6 shooting. His defense was better than Tuesday night both individually and helping off the ball. All six of Thomas' made field goals were within five feet.

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