Singing that Dwan Song
Tuesday night in Cookeville, Tennessee, Dwan Caldwell was singing a sweet tune. Nobody could stop the senior as he buried 11-18 from the floor. Twas the second best OVC performance all season.
Tennessee Tech (4-3) dispatched of visiting Lipscomb University (2-5) in a high-scoring intrastate affair, 84-79.
The Karl Malone of the OVC, Caldwell takes an eternity on his free throw attempts. Like the lug Malone before him this power forward makes them count (8-10). He pauses, pauses some more, and then releases a lovely attempt.
“Last year I kind of felt that I didn’t shoot that good,” said Caldwell. “We put in more time free throw line wise. I guess it paid off.”
The senior finished with 31 points and 10 rebounds.
Lipscomb doubled Caldwell every single touch he got. The forward looked sweaty and tuckered late in the first half. His primary defender was 310-pound Chad Lang. Lang played three years in the OVC with Belmont before transferring to Lipscomb. When he was on the floor he was a handful. Lang’s father played 12 seasons in the NBA.
“That was probably the biggest guy I ever guarded, ever. Coach was telling me to get low and keep him moving. I was actually was ready.
Caldwell simply mauled the visiting Bison. With 12 points, five rebounds midway he picked up right where he left off after the break by scoring six right away.
“Coach just told me to rebound hard because the last two games I had been slacking. My whole game plan was to play more physical.
At 6’8” Caldwell rarely sees equally strong opponents. So he gleefully drop-stepped into a powerful short shot. The productivity didn’t dip a bit.
This is my first double-double here.
“This year has me playing the four spot,” said Caldwell. “He said that I have to be shooting more and driving more.”
With less than 90 seconds remaining fans in the Eblen Center tightened up. The energy was drained and Tech fans feared the double-digit lead was about to completely disappear. Lipscomb had cut the lead to two points and then Caldwell hit his first three-pointer of his career.
Like Roy Hibbert in the NCAA Tournament, Caldwell sensed both the necessity of the bucket and capability of his hot hand. Bottoms.
On the ensuing defensive possession Caldwell elevated three feet off the pine to collect his tenth rebound with 33.2 seconds left. Curtains.
“I have always been a good shooter, but as soon as I got to Tech it kind of just took off,” said Caldwell.
The touch of Caldwell is absolutely velvet. Lipscomb’s feeble post defense only accentuated his already substantial skill advantage. If Caldwell plays like he did Tuesday night all year All-OVC First Team membership awaits.
In four short mintues Mason Ramsey (RS Fr.) infused the Eagles with toughness and enthusiasm. A junkyard dog, Ramsey set firm screens, picked up fullcourt, and poked a rebound free from his opponent. The forward also scored five quick points. Entering the contest Ramsey only had four points for the whole season.
His start earned him a second tour of duty in the first half. Fiery play from the bench can help every team and Ramsey appears to be able to bring that.
Two bench players invigorated the Eagles. In addition to Ramsey’s spirited play, freshman Aleksa Jugovic (Hamilton Heights Christian Academy) furiously closed the first half. With 1:50 left the Serbian-born Jugovic fed Caldwell for a powerful dunk. Also, in the final minute Jugovic nailed a three pointer and saved a fastbreak by diving sideways near midcourt.
Jugovic finished with five points, three steals, and two assists.
Tennessee Tech heads to Alabama December 13th. They also have preconference road battles at North Florida, at Tennessee, and at UMKC.