Column: Cougars still have chance to save season after win over ECU
With a win over the East Carolina University Pirates, the Cougars finally gained control of a ship that was on the brink of capsizing. Though they required two overtime periods to pull it off, the 97-93 win over the Pirates was huge for the Cougars.
North Carolina native and sophomore guard Rob Gray Jr. once again proved himself to be the best scorer on the team, after finishing with 31 points. Had he not sprained his ankle in the fourth quarter, he could have possibly made even more.
As important as Gray is offensively, junior guard Damyean Dotson continues to show that he may possibly be the best overall player on the team. He gained his fifth double-double on the season, as he battled for 23 points and 13 rebounds against ECU. Dotson is quickly becoming a fan favorite, as he truly is the scrapper on the team. Whether he is fighting for rebounds, diving for loose balls or scoring, Dotson is making his mark on the season.
Even with Gray and Dotson leading the way, head coach Kelvin Sampson’s constant reminders of the depth of his team were finally showcased in Greenville. When Gray went down with an injury, the Cougars had to go into a next-man-up mentality.
Wes Vanbeck came in the game during overtime and scored 11 points in his nine minutes of play. He came in the clutch as he went three for three behind the three point line and also made two free throws.
The Cougars have continued to show flashes of being a really good team, more consistently now, but still have some room to grow before they can compete on a high level consistently.
Down the stretch of the conference season, the bench will be even more important than it has been the past few weeks, as exhaustion and injuries will start to mount, but the Cougars have some good players that can come in and play some good minutes.
I’m wondering why Ronnie Johnson did not get much time during the ECU game. In my opinion, he is still the best point guard on the team. Although Galen Robinson Jr. does a good job with his time, Johnson is overall the better player.
I’m also wondering when will see consistent fiery play from Kyle Meyer. He has shown flashes of his intensity in certain games, but never is consistently aggressive. Fans would love to see more from the big man in future games.