By Joshua Parrott, Sports Writer
With just a little over eight minutes remaining in Tuesday night’s exhibition game against the International Sports Federa-tion, a pass delivered from the hands of junior point guard Cliff Green sailed out of bounds.
That mistake was one of few by Green, who looked more like Jason Kidd than a junior college transfer. He posted a near triple-double in his Wildcat debut, as ACU demolished ISF by four touchdowns, winning 92-64.
Five players hit double figures under new head coach Klint Plea-sant, a former assistant coach at Division I Kent State University and whose team was the darling of the 2002 NCAA Tournament. All-Lone Star Conference guard Rodney Lee led Wildcat scorers with 21.
Lee was 6 of 11 from behind the three-point arch, tallied six rebounds and led the team with two blocks. Lee’s outside shooting will be critical to the Cats’ success this year, who look to improve on last year’s 7-19 mark.
ISF, a team of players with collegiate and/or professional experience, would have lost by even more if not for the surprising performance of former ACU guard Jeff Ivy.
Ivy, who scored only 75 total points his entire senior season, torched his alma mater for more than 30 points, but was the only threat for ISF who was easily overmatched by the younger, more skilled Cats and unable to contain the lightning-quick Green.
Green played his prep ball at Lanier High School in Mississippi and was a high school teammate of Miami Hurricanes star swingman and future NBA lottery pick Darius Rice. He opened up the floor with his Tim Hardaway-like crossover, tremendous decision making and even wowed the crowd, wizzing no-look passes to teammates for easy baskets, proving to be the first true floor-general to don an ACU uniform in years.
Green showed his junior college statistics were no fluke, dishing out 20 assists, scoring 10 points and making nine steals. If his 4:1 assists-to-turnover ratio is any indication, Green should be a drastic improvement over the departed Howard Johnson, who was a shoot-first, never ask questions guard. Green instead looks to get his teammates involved earlier and often.
Juniors Ryan Coleman and Tucker Pierson were the beneficiaries of numerous passes from Green, but also worked hard and earned every point and rebound. Coleman did a little bit of everything, scoring 11 points, corralling seven rebounds and collecting five steals, while Pierson led the team with 15 rebounds (five offensive) and 19 points.
Coleman’s ability to play both guard positions and Pierson’s aggressiveness as an under-sized post will be key for the Cats hopes of a winning season.
Though playing against inferior competition, ACU looked to have players willing to give their best effort every game. And this season, eagerness might just be the Cats’ best weapon.
At least aside from Green.