GREENSBORO — To Kyle Hines, blocking a shot isn’t about making a statement but about helping his team.
And the UNCG freshman provided plenty of help Thursday night as the Spartans thumped Guilford 96-65 before a cozy gathering of 540 in Fleming Gym.
Hines blocked seven shots, tying the school record for the second time this season. He also blocked seven against Coastal Carolina in the second game of the season. Nathan Popp blocked seven against VMI in 2001.
“It’s all timing and a little bit of luck,” said Hines, who went into the game ranked second in the nation at 4.2 blocks per game.
“I try to keep my hand straight up and don’t squat. I wait until the ball gets in the air and then try to block it. I usually don’t worry about body contact; I try to be aggressive.”
Hines blocked six shots in the first half and would have had a seventh except teammate Ronnie Burrell fouled the shooter. He added another in the second half. Oh, and he added 15 points, 12 rebounds and five steals.
The impressive thing about Hines’ blocks was that he kept the ball in play on every one. Several were picked up by teammates who turned them into transition baskets.
“That’s Bill Russell pretty much,” Hines said.
UNCG coach Fran McCaffery was impressed that the 18-year-old Hines had even heard of Russell, the Boston Celtic great who made blocking shots an art form. Russell last played in 1969.
“The amazing thing is he’s been able to do it and stay out of foul trouble,” McCaffery said. “It’s not an ego thing where he’s got to make a statement with a block. It’s block a shot and lead to a fast break.”
To its credit, Guilford’s Division III players didn’t back off. Coach Tom Palombo said he wanted his post players to stay aggressive.
“We kept on taking it to him and that’s the way you have to be,” Palombo said. “You can’t be afraid of it. He was certainly up for the challenge.”
McCaffery said he will always remember a block Hines recorded that helped the Spartans beat Southern Mississippi in a tournament at Iowa.
“The kid had what looked like a sure layup,” McCaffery said, “and Kyle went up in traffic and blocked it and got the ball. It changed everything. It was demoralizing for them and a momentum shift for us.”
Contact Bill Hass at 373-7047 or email@example.com