Battle of Brooklyn, (Brooklyn College verse Medgar Evers), Bulldogs muzzled by the Cougars defense

Friday, February 12th at 8 pm the Men’s Brooklyn College Bulldogs Basketball team lost on the road 89-72 to Medgar Evers Cougars at the Cougar Cave.  It was titled the CUNYAC Battle for Bedford Avenue and Alumni Night. Another battle was watching the top scorers from each team which both played well.  On February 3rd The NY Times profiled BC’s All American Athlete Egzone Gjonbala in CUNYAC play.  He finished the game with 24 points.  Medgar Evers’ scoring sensation Senior Matthew Lee scored a game-high 32 points and 5 steals. Last game he scored 50 and he averages 30 and is one of the top scorers in the country.

On a cold night dozens came from BC to attend. Someone on the Cougars dunked in warmups and they got a technical foul for that which was not converted. The Cougars led the whole game and ran up big leads. Something was needed to disrupt their timing like a timeout or similar as down by 10 early Coach Rich Micallef did call a timeout.  Most coaches agree but famous Coach Phil Jackson does not and lets his players work their way out of it.  The game was won in the first half as the Bulldogs played them even in the second half. The key in the first half was rebounding and turnovers.

The Cougars were rolling up big scoring leads at 24-10 and 31-13. The game was played at a pace advantageous to the Cougars. The Bulldogs had few fast break points. Gjonbala had most of their points through the first 10 minutes. The Bulldogs made a little run to be with in 10 with a minute to go in the half.  It used up a lot of energy trying to catch up.  The half ended 50-34 with Lee scoring 21 points. The Bulldogs shot only 37% field goals and 27% on threes. The Cougars had great ball movement, second chance points and hands in the passing lane on defense preventing scoring in the paint and also causing BC to not shoot well from the three point line.

At the half Coach Rich Micallef made an adjustment of trapping earlier and pressuring Lee when he passed half court. There were 2 defenders trying to get the ball out of his hand and trying to let someone else prove they could beat them.  BC’s Nick Grasso covered Lee and put in a lot of effort and is a top defender but against Lee anyone needs help. Too much help and other players are open and success depends on how the open players score.  The largest lead in the game was 21 at 15:54 in the second half.

In the second half the Cougars got out of pace with a technical on Andron Thomas as he was upset with a call, threw the ball and his coach Chris Pursoo was very vocal over it. Thomas later fouled out. There were many complaints and a lot of fouls that changed the tempo as it was a half-court game the second half. BC’s guard Gist sparked a 10-0 run to 59-48. With 9:13 left BC was down by 8.

The Cougars point guard dribbled through a full court press. Egzon Gjonbala and Mathew Lee both shot a reverse. They were near or under the rim and shot the ball without looking to the back of their head. Before the game I ran into the Medgar Evers team and was asking who the top scorer was. I could tell they were kidding me as they laughed in good fun as the wrong one volunteered. I should have said what is the key to you impersonating a scorer? I spoke to Lee about the keys to his scoring success. He said the key was help from his teammates. I asked him to be more specific about his game and he said it was his mid-range pull up jumper.  He has all the shots in his arsenal. He rarely goes to the right but can. His ability is he can dribble to where he wants to on the court and get his shot off. Lee has been named Men’s Basketball Division III Player of the Week by the Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association (MBWA) for games played January 25-31.  For BC Egzon Gjonbala has the complete game also and good interior and cross court passing.

The Cougars profile this year is that they are a team that is athletic, move the ball around but are a bad three point shooting team. Their record is 12-12, (9-6 in the CUNYAC) with 5 wins in a row. The Bulldogs are in a competitive conference and dropped from 2nd to the 3rd seed. Brooklyn moves to 18-6 overall and 10-5 in the CUNYAC. The Bulldogs got early wins months ago but had other players and are adjusting to them not there.  The CUNYAC’s leading scorer Lee has now scored 30-plus points in 12 games.

Key player stats: Egzon Gjonbala shot efficiently for 24 points, 5-11 on threes, 9 rebounds and 3 offensive rebounds.  Nicholas Grasso had 3 blocks, Dillon Williams had 5 assists, 3 steals and 3 boards.

Lee scored a game-high 32 points and 5 steals, Markus Kearney Jr had 13 rebounds with 6 offensive rebounds in 21 minutes.  Key team stats: The Bulldogs had 21 less rebounds and 9 less offensive rebounds, 5 less steals and 45% on free throws. The Cougars had 19 points off turnovers and 17 second chance points. In the opener BC’s Women’s team won 66-45. The radio cast of the games are on http://www.spreaker.com/.

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