Breaking down Central men's basketball's gutty win over UNH, and why Kyle Vinales is so good

Or as we'll call it, the "Ok KV3, now you're just showing off" edition of the blog.

I say that in jest of course, as Vinales, despite his flashy approach to the game, is not a show off. Sure he'll celebrate after a big shot, but he's honestly just as happy if someone else makes a big shot.

And there were some of those for sure.

My coworkers and I go out to eat once every couple of weeks to do some bonding and talk shop. Tonight we were discussing our All-Herald teams,which will be in the paper in a  few weeks. During dinner, a discussion about onions developed.

Up in Durham, they were on display.

Central had no business winning this game at New Hampshire. Routed early and still down big in the second half on the road, the Blue Devils clawed their way back into it, then displayed the kind of clutch play they showed early during the winning streak and didn't bring to Hartford. It's the kind of gutty road win that can spark a team, especially because of the number of players who stepped up. We know Kyle Vinales is an amazing scorer. The kid leads the country in scoring. Not the NEC, the country. But he's even better when he has help.

The Blue Devils lost their first two games in part because Vinales felt he had to do it all. He talked to me about pressing after the St. Peter's loss and how he knew he had to trust his teammates. They gave him plenty of reasons to trust him.

No, CCSU didn't win this one solely because of Vinales, though he was huge when he had to be. It won because of Vinales, Malcolm McMillan, Joe Efese, Matt Hunter, defense, and an order of onions.

Let's break it all down by playing man-to-man

Adonis Burbage
He did a bunch of Adonis Burbage things. He played the whole game. He made some threes. He grabbed some rebounds. He had a steal. I like that he knows his role and executes it.

Joe Efese
Speaking of knowing your role and executing: 7-for-10 from the floor and three offensive rebounds works most nights. You'd like to see him get more boards and fewer fouls, but he did a lot of good things, including making big free throws late.

Kyle Vinales
Let's see, in 40 minutes, had made half the shots he took, 60 percent of the threes he took, all but one of the free throws he took, had seven assists and stole the ball three times. I haven't confirmed if he drove the bus home after the game, but I think he's going to fly the plane to Indiana.
What made this effort impressive, however, was that he scored his 27 points without having to take 25 shots. Gone are those early season days when he has to force the ball up. Sure, you want him taking every big shot he can, like the one he hit to start Central's second-half surge or the under the radar big shot he made at 60-59 to give Central the lead back after UNH had reclaimed it. Instead of letting the Wildcats get any kind of momentum back, Vinales made a shot, hit Burbage with a pass for a three, then later scored four in a row to ensure a dramatic finish.
But he didn't need to take every big shot. He has figured out how to pick his spots, and done so in a shockingly short amount of time. He can now take over without trying to take over, if that makes any sense. In other words, he just finds spots to explode rather than trying to be a one-man show.
If his legs hold up, he's going to put up video game numbers and Central is going to win a good amount of games.

Malcolm McMillan 
Gee, he only played 38 minutes tonight. Slacker. In all seriousness, what else can you ask this kid to do. He has now added the ability to score in key situations to his arsenal. His turnovers and assists were flipped from what they normally are, but he made up for it by scoring more.

Matt Hunter
He has done it. Matt Hunter has taken away anything I could complain about. The kid makes his free throws, limited his turnovers Wednesday to three in 35 minutes, scored 18 points and had eight rebounds. Impressive display.

Andrew Hurd
If he could ever give Central 5 minutes or so a night and help guard against foul trouble and/or buy the guards a rest, that would be HUGE for this team.

Terrell Allen
It's hard to get minutes for "TO" when Hunter plays this well and Efese is on his game. Still, he makes the most of what he gets, and is ready to step in when asked.

Brandon Peel
See Terrell Allen.

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