Panthers, Deacs set to clash
While getting his team ready for a game, High Point University coach Scott Cherry doesn’t say much about the other team’s record.
So, in preparing for tonight’s game against Wake Forest at Joel Coliseum (7 p.m., WMFR), Cherry hasn’t made mention that the 4-3 Panthers have a golden opportunity to beat an ACC team because the Demon Deacons are 3-4 and riding a two-game losing streak after getting blown out by Nebraska and losing a nail-biter to Richmond. HPU has beaten Wake just once in 16 meetings.
“I’ve got smart kids,” Cherry said. “I never talk about the record of the other team. But, our guys watch games on TV and hear things. They know Wake has seven freshmen. They understand what this game is about.”
The game is about two teams which feature several new players and have taken their lumps of late.
While the Deacons have lost two in a row, the Panthers have gone 0-for-3 against Division I teams since winning their first two games of the season. One of those losses was a blowout at the hands of William & Mary, the last team that Wake defeated.
Cherry doesn’t take stock in comparative scores.
“I don’t pay much attention to that stuff,” Cherry said. “Every game is different. For whatever reason, we came out and settled for shooting jump shots. We didn’t play well on offense or defense in the first half and dug a hole. We just had a bad night.”
Cherry is encouraged the Panthers rallied from a slow start against Western Michigan in their last game to take the lead before losing in the closing seconds.
Adam Weary led the Panthers with 11 points, while big men John Brown, Allan Chaney and Lorenzo Cugini each had 10.
“We’ve got to shoot well for two halves,” Cherry said. “We did that when we beat Appalachian. Against Western Michigan, we got thrown off by how they were calling the game but we came back. We’ve got to be balanced. We’ve got to hit enough shots from the outside to take the pressure off our big guys.”
Unlike the Panthers, who had to replace most of their offense, the Deacons returned a good chunk of their scoring with C.J. Harris and Travis McKie, the top two returning scorers in the ACC.
And while Cherry doesn’t talk about the Deacons record, he does note they are averaging just 68 points a game and that Harris and McKie struggled on offense against Nebraska and Richmond.
McKIe leads the Deacs with a 13.6 scoring average and Harris is next at 12.4.
McKie had eight points and Harris was held to a career low two against Nebraska. McKie had nine and Harris six against Richmond.
“We’ve got to keep them in check,” Cherry said.
Cherry said the Panthers could face size matchup problems if the 6-8 McKie plays small forward against 6-4 point guard Codi Miller-McIntyre.
He’s also cognizant that Wake turned the William & Mary game around, in part, with defense that included full-court pressure and putting 6-10 Aaron Rountree out front in the half-court.
“They are long and athletic,” Cherry said. “They’ve got ACC-caliber players. They can pressure and take you out of what you want to do, get steals and turn them into easy shots. Every game on our schedule this season, we can win. But, we’ve got to play well to do it.”