Debuting their new-look, cursive lettering uniforms and a brand-new staff on the bench in Willett Hall, Longwood men’s basketball walked away with a 73-51 win over Division III Marymount University Tuesday night to officially tip-off the 2019-20 college basketball season.
Second-year head coach Griff Aldrich rolled out four returners and one freshman in his starting lineup – senior guard Shabooty Phillips, senior guard Jaylon Wilson, junior forward Jordan Cintron, senior forward JaShaun Smith and freshman forward Abraham Deng.
Deng, who logged 13 minutes, scored six points including a pair of emphatic dunks in his Longwood debut after sitting out all of last season as a redshirt freshman.
Sophomore forward and NJCAA transfer Christian Wilson led the Lancers in scoring with 12 points in a stellar debut, followed by East Carolina transfer, sophomore guard Deshaun Wade with 10 points. Jaylon Wilson and Cintron both also scored 10 points.
Even though the Lancers came away with the win, it didn’t come without lapses on both ends of the court, especially on the offensive end. The first ten minutes of the first half was sloppy, in that there were 16 total turnovers in the first 15 minutes of the game – ten by the Lancers. A frustrated Aldrich was disappointed to see the sheer number of mistakes, and the offense not exactly adjusting throughout.
“We had 11 turnovers in the second half and 10 turnovers in the first half,” he said. “Turnovers is something that we’ve been talking about non-stop and to come out and be very careless our first game is really disappointing to see.”
He continued, “One of the things I was really disappointed in is that we never adjusted to deal with or started to make better decisions.”
The Lancers did shoot the ball extremely well, shooting 61.7 percent from the field. However, they made eight of 16 attempts from the free-throw line and shot 35 percent from beyond the arc, the three-ball being a staple of their offense a year ago. However, when the Lancers weren’t shooting the ball, Aldrich wasn’t satisfied with the way the offense was being conducted.
“There were a bunch of times where we’re just not running our offense,” a frustrated Aldrich said. “They’re just, out there – almost like they’re confused.”
Some of these lapses may be attributed to early season nerves in their first game in front of a college basketball atmosphere, with six Lancers making their collegiate debuts.
The Lancers then travelled to Fairfax, Virginia. for a matchup with Atlantic-10 opponent George Mason, dropping the contest 76-65 after a second half comeback attempt. Now sitting at 1-1 following the opening week, they’ll look to adjust and improve as they enter a three-game homestand this week – a test in front of their home crowd with three games in five days.