Dragons crush Lambton

Regardless of what Wednesday’s score may indicate, Tiffin University is far from a finished product.

The Dragons’ 102-50 win over Lambton – a college 56 miles north of Windsor, Canada – wasn’t flawless.

It didn’t need to be, as the Dragons overmatched the Lions, taking the lead for good with 13 1/2 minutes left in the first half and playing add-on to its advantage the rest of the game.

“I was a little disappointed in our start,” said first-year Dragons’ coach Jerry Buccilla. “It was a slow start, and I think the guys felt like it was a team we should beat, and I didn’t want them to settle by playing down, and it felt like at the beginning they did.”

Tiffin (2-0) started the game with only two players – Joe Graessle and Mike Boan – who were on the team last year.

Graessle took a little while to get going, but eventually took apart Lambton, making three treys, adding a dunk and finishing with a game-high 24 points and six steals.

“We have good team chemistry, we really do,” Graessle said. “But that’s Game 2. We’ve got to get used to people on the floor together, different lineups. And that’s all gonna come with us practicing, us playing.”

Buccilla said he set some goals for the Dragons in Tuesday’s contest.

“We wanted to keep (Lambton) to 50 (points) and under,” he said. “We wanted to keep them under 30 percent shooting. They shot 28 percent (17 of 63). We wanted a 2-to-1 rebounding margin. We exceeded that. We wanted at least 16 offensive rebounds, we got them in the first half. We wanted under 10 turnovers, we got to eight.”

The rebounding differential especially was dramatic. Led by freshman center Nick Ellison, the Dragons won the boards 56-28.

Ellison, a 6-foot-9, 265 pounder from a high school in Maryland, had 14 points and 13 rebounds. He also impressed his teammates.

“Ellison was a madman on the boards in the first half,” Graessle said. “I know of one [rebound] in particular that I wanted to get, and I told him, ‘I got it,’ and he took it from me.

“We’re happy to get contributions from new guys, and that’s gonna be huge for us all year.”

But while the freshman had a big game it was a (relative) veteran who helped provide a spark.

Sophomore Khaleal McCormick came off the bench for TU with 18 points, five rebounds and three assists. Buccilla has said he doesn’t put a ton of importance in who starts a game, and McCormick, who started a number of games as a freshman, appeared in step with that philosophy.

“I like to provide that energy coming off the bench,” McCormick said. “Defensive and offensive-wise, just look for my teammates and also look for my shot.”

Graessle, McCormick and Ellison all scored in double figures, as did Mike Brown, who had 10 points. Bryan Jackson had eight rebounds to go with six points, while Sarwan Khan added seven rebounds

The Lions (2-6) were led by Shawn Hill, who had 18 points.

Tiffin will be off until Monday. It is going to Hawaii to play three games in three days.

It’s a change for Graessle, who during his sophomore season went with the team to play a tournament in Alaska.

“I’ll tell you what, I’m a lot more excited about this trip than I was Alaska,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity, and it’s a great way to go out my senior year.”