I Don’t like Mondays – Blue Coats fall to Westchester 112-107

Monday morning basketball?

The Delaware Blue Coats sleepwalked their way into a 19 point deficit against the Westchester Knicks before storming back to force overtime on a pair of Shake Milton free throws with 9.5 seconds left. Unfortunately, the Knicks regained control by hitting a few tough shots in the 2 minute OT period to take the win 112-107 in Newark, DE on Monday, December 3rd.

The Blue Coats dominated the glass to the tune a 51-38 rebounding differential. The Knicks guards, however, torched the Blue Coats back court, getting into the lane at will and knocking down shots. Kadeem Allen scored 23 with 9 assists to control the game and lead the Knicks to a 19 point advantage. Eventually, the Blue Coats overcame their 25 turnovers to scratch back into the game. But even a deep deficit didn’t stop the Coats from having some highlight plays on the fast break and pick and roll.

Coat Checks

Norvel Pelle

Pelle was put in the position to clean up a lot of dribble penetration early which put him in difficult decisions as the Blue Coats “Batman.” Read more about what that role is and how it relates to the 76ers and Blue Coats coordination of scheme.

https://thepaintedlines.com/blog/2018/11/23/codename-project-batman/

After getting into early foul trouble, Pelle had to play much of the second half with five fouls. The Knicks made a point of trying to attack him throughout, but once he got 5 fouls, his verticality came out and he had 2 blocks. Really impressive effort overall defensively, and then there was this:

The Coaches Challenge

In a singularly G-League moment midway through the 4th quarter, Pelle was called for his 6th foul on a block attempt at the rim. Pelle was initially ejected from the game, but coach Connor Johnson called a challenge on the foul. As explained by GM Matt Lilly, the league allows one coaches challenge of a penalty, turnover, or violation. Upon replay, the foul was overturned and a jump ball was called for at half-court. Pelle was allowed to remain in the game and wound up playing the remainder of the game without getting his final foul.

When asked postgame about the decision to challenge the call, Johnson said, “Yeah, it’s a really tricky rule; it’s hard to know when to use it.” He went on to explain that it’s not as cut-and-dried a decision as it may seem because the risk-reward calculation isn’t always that easy to calculate without knowing how possession will work even if you win. “In this case, it was a jump ball at half-court, but if the Knicks had gotten possession, it might not have worked.” In all, the decision paid dividends and kept the team’s primary rim protector in the game during the late comeback.

Shake Milton

Shake Milton / PFO Photographer Wayne Terry

The NBA two way player has had quite a week. After hitting a huge 3 for the Blue Coats last Wednesday, Milton made his NBA debut Friday night for the Sixers. Sunday night, he was in a Sixers uniform as well, and then turned around and started an 11am game in Delaware Monday morning. Call it lack of sleep, or disorientation associated with a two way grind, but Milton started the game slow before getting into attack mode in the 4th quarter. His two free throws to tie the game in the final seconds were among his 10-10 performance from the line. Attacking and decisive Shake is the best Shake.

Cory Jefferson

Cory Jefferson / PFO Photographer Wayne Terry

Jefferson entered the game shooting under 30% from 3 for the season but was feeling it Monday against the Knicks. He punished the sagging big men throughout the game hitting 5-6 total from beyond the arc to lead to his 21 point, 7 rebound outing. Jefferson also added two blocks without fouling anyone. One quibble would be that a big man has six fouls for a reason. In a game where the opponent is comfortable and attacking the rim, this mattered. Jefferson likely should have played more aggressively defensively to get Westchester out of its bag.

The Guards

Jared Brownridge / PFO Photographer Wayne Terry

Generally a really rough outing for the Blue Coats backcourt. As mentioned, the Knicks were far too comfortable in getting the Coats guards onto their hips. They were penetrating and using a range of scoring finishes to both get Norvel Pelle into foul trouble, but also to score fairly easily. The Knicks guards generally had a size and power advantage, but that is more reality than excuse. Jared Brownridge was scoreless in just 11 minutes played. That may say more about the Blue Coats perimeter matchup than it does about offensive play from my view.

Closing

This loss breaks a winning streak for the Blue Coats and leaves them at 5-6 on the season. The team has played the majority of its games on the road. Coach Connor Johnson expressed genuine disappointment in the team’s lack of consistency. Johnson expressed a desire to get the team to play a full 48 minutes and not rely on big comebacks. This was just the second game of the year at the University of Delaware, Bob Carpenter Center. The Coats open their 76ers Fieldhouse in Wilmington, Delaware on January 4th.