Tigers show off potential
URBANA — Athletics have been referred to as an extension of the classroom and, thus, a continuation of the learning process.
For those paying attention, there were lessons to be gleaned from Urbana's 88-67 runaway against Danville on Friday night at Oscar Adams Gymnasium.
Lesson 1: Never give up on a rebound. Urbana's Brandon Glass got an offensive board against the Vikings after missing a three-pointer ... and while seated beyond the three-point arc.
Lesson 2: Aggressiveness is a good thing. Urbana's P.J. Blissit, who wound up with a game-high 22 points, found his way to the free throw line seven times ... in the first 3 minutes and 46 seconds.
Lesson 3: Starting is not as important as maximizing your playing time. Of Urbana's top four rebounders against Danville, three came off the bench. They were Michael Franklin (nine), Demonte Young (eight) and Kaleb Smith (six). The lone starter in the group was Donald McKinley (eight).
Lesson 4: Work on your shooting. Urbana players Blissit, McKinley and Jerrod Webster combined to hit six three-pointers ... before the game was 11 minutes old. By that time, the Tigers had an insurmountable 42-23 lead.
Lesson 5: Take care of the things you can control and don't worry about the rest. In mid-January, Urbana suffered a double-figure loss at Danville in a game where Darrion Brown was one point shy of a double-double. Brown was not in uniform on Friday, recovering from an appendectomy a day earlier. Still, the Tigers had enough depth that seven players scored at least seven points.
What Urbana's third-year coach, Vashoune Russell, is learning, he said, matches what his team is finding out about themselves.
"We're seeing how good we can be," Russell said. "This season has been a roller-coaster. They realize it's down to crunch time and they still believe they can be a pretty good team."
Of all the numbers in the Urbana scorebook, Russell was most pleased by these: seven assists for McKinley and six for Blissit.
"We've stressed sharing the ball and they're starting to share and believe a lot more," said Russell, whose had committed just four turnovers during the final three quarters. "Tonight, that led to some fast-break situations."
Danville, which never led, received 20 points and a game-high 12 rebounds from Jaron Cunningham. The Vikings totaled 25 baskets, but no squad member had more than two assists.
Credit for the win goes to the Tigers, Danville coach Gary Tidwell said.
"They've improved a lot the last two years," Tidwell said. "They're a veteran team. They handle the ball well, shoot the ball well and play hard."
Urbana (9-11) was playing the second of a five-game homestand that will last until the regular season finale on Feb. 24.
"As a team, we were pretty solid," Russell said.