By Jim Flick
LIBERTY — In a game that Poland coach Ken Grisdale described as his experiment with “controlled chaos,” the Bulldogs defeated Liberty 85-58 on Tuesday night.
Poland’s chaotic attack was led by senior Ben Donlow, who scored 20 points. Junior point guard Darius Patton and senior forward David Baker each added nine points, while senior forwards Andy Bartos and John Price each contributed eight points.
Seven other players put points on the board for Poland (4-0), as Grisdale constantly moved players in and out of the lineup. Several times he swept the floor, replacing all five players on the court with fresh players off the bench.
“The philosophy is to swarm the other team as much as we can,” Grisdale explained. “We’re trying to wear people out. That results in a lot of turnovers.”
Poland’s swarm tactics forced 39 turnovers, according to Liberty coach Marlin McGaughy.
Grisdale added, “We have a lot of confidence in our depth. That makes other teams uncomfortable.”
Poland took its first lead of the night when Baker slammed home a dunk to put the Bulldogs in front 4-2. Liberty’s Jalen Mann scored to tie the score 4-4.
Then Poland went to work. The Bulldogs scored 13 unanswered points to take a 17-4 lead over Liberty (0-5). Poland led 28-14 at the end of the first quarter, and 49-25 at halftime.
Ten players scored for Poland in the first half.
“I saw what I needed to see in the first half,” said Grisdale. “We tried some new things in the second half.
“I tried to mix and match a lot of people in the second half,” he continued. “I played a lot of young kids. Our kids work hard in practice, and they deserve an opportunity play with the veterans players.”
Grisdale mixed with younger players with his veterans, sometimes with exciting results. On a play that drew a roar from the crowd late in the fourth quarter, sophomore guard Colin Reardon tossed up an alley-oop pass that 6-foot-6 Baker slammed home.
“They kind of wore us out,” admitted McGaughy. “They are a veteran team, a skilled veteran, and we’re a young team.
“To stop a team like that, you have a team with chemistry that throws a lot. You can’t dribble through that defense. You must throw it through the defense.”
Liberty was led by sophomore guard Jalen Mann, who scored 17 points against Liberty. McGaughy predicts better days ahead for Mann. “He’s just starting to learn.”
Preston Williams tallied nine points Tuesday for Liberty, while Jamal Daniel contributed eight points.
As Grisdale encouraged his team to experiment in the fourth quarter, Liberty outscored Poland 16-15 in the game’s final stanza.