No matter how his team played throughout its game against Seabreeze on the night of Thursday, Nov. 30, Gary McDaniel’s facial expression never changed.
Not when Flagler Palm Coast jumped out to an early 15-8 lead. Not when Sandcrabs forward Tyrell Tellis-Martin made a wide open, 3-point buzzer-beater to give Seabreeze the halftime lead. And not when the Bulldogs’ offense caught fire in the second half to the tune of 46 points.
Throughout the entire night, the Bulldogs’ head coach stood on the sideline, starring down his players as they limped back on defense.
Looking at the scoreboard, though, the casual fan would think the Bulldogs dominated.
In the season-opener, they handled Seabreeze 79-66 and wore the undersized Sandcrabs (1-1) down with superior frontcourt size. Bulldogs forwards Norman Brown and Dmahgio Warren pounded the Sandcrabs’ defense to score 26 points and 21 points respectively.
As for McDaniel, however, he was not impressed.
“We’ve got a weird thing going on,” he said. “We’re scoring points, but we’re a defensive team. We’ve got to get back to what we really hang our hat on. I was not happy with that defense tonight.”
Although the Bulldogs, traditionally a low-scoring team, found a spark of offense on Thursday night, McDaniel looked past that. He saw turnovers, lazy transition defense and missed assignments.
In the span of 1 minute, 40 seconds in the second quarter, the Sandcrabs went from down eight to down a single point, nailing five 3-pointers in the period and eight triples for the game.
The second half started on the same pace — before Brown and Warren took over.
Brown reiterated his coach’s sentiments, however.
“It felt great to win, but we struggled a lot,” Brown said. “We weren’t running back on defense, so they were just standing cold and shooting open threes.”
But despite the team’s periodic lapses on the defensive end, the Bulldogs, who lost both of their preseason games, start the season 1-0. However, going forward, McDaniel said he wants the team to get back to its identity.
“There were people out of place, people arriving late and people not doing their assignments,” he said. “If we sit down and guard the way we’re supposed to, it’s a totally different game. It’s the little things.
“It’s early, but I think we can fix it.”