(Stony Brook, N.Y) — In the ever-evolving age of college basketball, the true low-post, back to the basket five man has rapidly gone the way of the dinosaur. Teams are moving more and more towards the athletic stretch-forwards who can step out and make some jumpers or face up and drive to the basket. But it wasn’t always this way.
But once upon a time, not terribly long ago, the America East was the land where true big men roamed – and ruled the low blocks. Only a decade ago, the tiny conference tucked away along the northeast corridor was hosting epic big-man battles. Among the most memorable heavyweight headline events of more recent years were Trevor Gaines versus Ajmal Basit; Nate Fox versus Mike Pegues; 7-foot-1 Nick Billings versus 7-foot-1 Justin Rowe; Gaines versus Chris Brown; the tag-team battle royal of Rigoberto Gittens and Norman Richardson versus Carvell Ammons and Julian Dunkley versus Joe Linderman and Mike Kouser; Taylor Coppenrath versus Rashad Bell; Billings versus Ryan Butt; and Cori Spencer versus, well, everyone in uniform for Hartford.
And of course, the epic pay-per-view prize fights of Tunji Awojobi versus Malik Rose and Taylor Coppenrath versus Nick Billings.
But in today’s America East, the true big man has become entirely extinct – well, almost. On Saturday afternoon in a tiny gymnasium on Long Island, two true bigmen took the floor for what could be one of the last gladiator matches between America East Goliaths.
New Hampshire senior Chris Pelcher battled with Stony Brook sophomore Jameel Warney in the paint like two titans fighting for territorial supremacy. In the end, the veteran Pelcher led his Wildcats (6-17, 4-6) to a 73-69 upset win over the Seawolves (17-8, 9-2).
Warney and Pelcher players battled it out in what seemed like a heavyweight title fight, both of them showcasing their low-post skills that seem to have become a lost art in today’s game. Pelcher was winning the battle early, bodying Warney off the block and landing more
punches shots. He gave all the credit to his teammates.
“My teammates just got me the ball when I was open and made it really easy for me,” he said. “All the guards, really. Everyone just got me the ball in easy positions for me to score, so it really wasn’t me, it was them.”
But Warney did not go down without dishing out some blows of his own. In the second half he got free in the post for a layup and he put in a shot off his patented spin move. One of the best passing bigmen the league has ever seen, Warney threw a smooth alley-oop pass to Scott King for a reverse layup. He also played better defense on Pelcher down the stretch, forcing an airball in one instance and playing great defense in the post to eventually force a shot-clock violation.
Warney put in a layup in traffic to give Stony Brook a 62-60 lead with four minutes left. But it was Pelcher who threw the knockout punch in the end, putting in a hook shot on the right block to give New Hampshire a 68-67 lead with 41 seconds left.
Pelcher finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Warney was held to 11 points on five-of-nine shooting and 10 rebounds. (more…)