Colleges in Attendance: Richmond, William & Mary, Rhode Island, VMI, Hampton, and Randolph-Macon.
I decided to open up this week by heading down to Chesterfield County, VA last night for a matchup between the L.C. Bird Skyhawks hosting the Monacan Chiefs. The two Chesterfield teams entered the Monday night contest with fairly similar records; Monacan had been 6-2, while L.C. Bird stood at 5-2. The talent amongst both teams proved indisputable. So, if anything, I knew several highlight plays would occur throughout the night. Frankly, the game didn’t result as being closely-played. I honestly expected the opposite, so it left me quite surprised. The Skyhawks strongly protected their home floor and dominated right from tip-off. This being my first time watching them on the hardwood, I began to see why they hold a top-3 team ranking in the 804 currently.
L.C. Bird – 79
Monacan – 47
Some Game Notes
- On a night where everything seemed to click, L.C. Bird proved how balanced they can play as a whole on both ends of the floor. Near the end of the first period, they seemed to completely crush Monacan’s spirit after Jamon Battle ’19 picked off a steal to finish with a thunderous two-hand poster dunk. What really intrigued me about the Skyhawks is how, even with several next-level talented players on the roster, they play unselfishly in sharing the ball. This lack of ego, along with a focus on the defensive end to take away easy perimeter looks/penetration, stands as some of their best attributes. I’ve also heard from others that the team especially plays well on their home floor. So, maybe that too played a role in them easily taking home Monday night’s win.
- Monacan just couldn’t buy a bucket in the first half. The Chiefs relied on three-point attempts greatly but none could fall; it didn’t matter who shot it or where he shot it from. Some shot attempts were smarter than others… at one point, I could sense Monacan had become more desperate and forced some below-average contested looks. One main problem involved the team rushing their offense once they got past half-court. L.C. Bird undoubtedly played strong defense but I honestly think Monacan made the Skyhawks’ job easier with their quick/early shots. There’s no shot clock so more patience is something they can improve upon.
- With Monacan’s shooting woes, L.C. Bird did a nice job in securing defensive rebounds and initiating the pace in which they wanted to play. On the offensive end, they showed some good effort on the boards as well, especially in the first and third quarter. For Monacan, I pointed out in my live tweeting of the game that Walker Posey ’20 made one of the bigger impacts on the offensive glass during the second half. Recognize this, he’s a 5’11” point guard.
- Two more areas of improvement Monacan can focus on pertains to their help-side rotation on defense and closing out to the perimeter quicker. Lapses in these two specific facets put them in a hole when trying to stop L.C. Bird’s hot scoring. The Chiefs have enough length and athleticism to become a stronger defensive team; it’ll just take a combined effort. Oh, and they can communicate on the floor better too. I remember hearing one of the players on their bench yell “Talk!”
Standouts of Monday Night
Corbin Slayton ’19 – L.C. Bird: Man, I really like what I saw out of the unsigned senior, offensively. In the first half, Slayton couldn’t miss… I think he made all but one shot to lead his team with 12 points. The same story pretty much continued in the next two quarters, as he finished with a game-high 21 points (tied with Monacan’s Joe Bamisile ’20) and seven rebounds. Slayton has a strong build on him and operates as a smooth bucket-getter; he displayed an ability to score either as a three-point shooter or pull-up guy. At his 6’1” height, he also showed a toughness in sticking his nose in the paint to go after rebounds. I think this guy needs more attention; a smart and talented 2019 guard who would be an asset to any college program next season.
Mack Burgett ’19 – L.C. Bird: Playing as a post presence mostly for the Skyhawks, the 6’7” Burgett is also known for his skills as a stretch 4-man but embraced his role greatly last night to look for paint points. He had a nice height advantage over pretty much any Monacan defender who tried to contain him, and didn’t hesitate to put them underneath the rim. The result led to a 15 point and 11 rebound performance; the only L.C. Bird player to rack up a double-double. Burgett showed the most activity around the rim, going after putbacks at will and playing the biggest role in L.C. Bird’s impressive defensive rebounding. It’s always good to see when a player recognizes what’s working for them and sticks to that strategy. Burgett could’ve easily tried to space out to the wing and show off his perimeter skills, but relished doing the interior work all night long.
Joe Bamisile ’20 – Monacan: So, there’s no denying Bamisile’s talent. As a scoring guard, he has a nice 6’3” frame to go along with a ridiculous wingspan. He may have the most explosive vertical leap I’ve seen in the area so far. An example of this occurred last night near the end of the game, when he pulled off a windmill dunk on the fast break, getting his head at the rim. Scoring aside, Bamisile’s rebounding honestly looked the most impressive, as he grabbed a team-high 13 boards to go along with his 21 points. The biggest need for him right now is to improve his shot selection/efficiency and not turn the ball over as much. He can get his shot off at any time, but settled for outside jumpers too quickly for the majority of the game. In my eyes, he looked most lethal when taking it to the rim.
Jamon Battle ’19 – L.C. Bird: Another one of the most athletic players in the building last night, Battle enjoyed a dunk show for the most part. These jams mainly resulted from his defensive instincts; I’d say he impressed the most in turning his own defense into offense and running the floor. The 6’5” wing’s energy and production on both ends made him the biggest spark plug for L.C. Bird whenever he took the court. Ultimately, he finished with the best all-around performance of the night, posting 19 points, six rebounds, four steals, and three blocks. A guy who already has picked up several Division I offers, I expect more to keep pouring in for Battle as the season keeps rolling. Oh, and I also expect to see his name again on one of the All-Metro teams in March.
Tyler Henderson ’20 – L.C. Bird: With plenty of scoring talent around him, Henderson acted in his usual role of a pure floor general; most in the area consider him one of the top true point guards around. His unselfishness and decision-making caught my eye, but his defense stood out on another level. No other guard had a better defensive game than the 5’8” junior; he did it all in gathering steals, taking charges, and making opponents pick up their dribble quickly. Looking at the stats, one may raise their eyebrows at how Henderson only had five points, as he can score on his own when desired. Still, actually being present at the game would make one aware of how impactful the lead guard’s play truly is. I see his stock increasing soon.
I’m definitely trying to see both of these teams again at some point hopefully!