Well, you can’t say you were surprised by the outcome of this game.
UNC Asheville brought in Kimmel Arena in a blowout fashion on Monday night, beating the Lees McRaeBobcats by 31 points in an exhibition game. Asheville got exemplary output from JP Primm and Matt Dickey (words I will no doubt be typing a lot this season). J.P. led all scorers with 24 points while Dickey added 18. Jeremy “Big Country” Atkinson, Jaron Lane, and Q Jackson all had 7 rebounds. Trent Meyer established himself as a reliable backup guard for the ‘Dogs, playing 18 minutes while getting 4 steals.
Exhibition games are exhibition games, though. It’s not often you’ll see a team down 30 points start to full-court press. It allows coaches to experiment with their team and see what works and what doesn’t. Of note for the Bulldogs:
- UNCA had 24 fouls called on them Monday night. Some of this may have been whistle-happy officiating, but you have to know that Eddie wants that number to go down before Asheville takes on two opponents – N.C. State and UNC – that are much bigger and physical than Lees-McRae.
- On the other hand, all those fouls drawn by Asheville payed off at the charity stripe, as the ‘Dogs shot 31-36 from the foul line (86%). Of particular note were Matt Dickey, J.P. Primm, and Jaron Lane, all of whom made all their foul shots. Chris Stephenson just missed the cut, going 7-8.
- D.J. Cunningham’s role as scenter looks like it’s going to be filled by committee, as Jaron Lane, Jeremy Atkinson, Jon Nwanunu, and Quinard Jackson all chipped in at the 4 and 5 spots. Coach B will likely settle into a routine as the season progresses.
Finally, the intangibles. This was the first game at Kimmel Arena (shhh, don’t tell Ol’ Roy) and the place looked spectacular, at least from the vantage point of my couch in Raleigh. The camera work and angles were much improved over the justice center, and the crowd was sizeable given that it was a Monday night exhibition game. The university (read: athletics dept.) is going to have to work hard to fill up seats during the regular season though, particularly down the stretch against Coastal, Liberty, and other major Big South teams.
There are a few quick fixes that need to happen, however. WWNC’s coverage was alright, but needs to improve. Despite the press release put out by the university, the game was not available to stream online via WWNC. I was able to watch it on the Big South network, but the original promise of free, live streaming was a bit misleading. Also, the in-game graphics leave much to be desired. I’m 25 years old and the score was difficult to make out on what looked to be a miniaturized version of a digital scoreboard. Hopefully they can develop a visual interface that is readable and user-friendly rather than the 8-bit dredge they used last night.
These are minor gripes, however. Last night was a great way to open a new arena and a new season of Bulldogs basketball. Let’s hope the streak continues on Friday and Sunday.