#24 Mines in Silver City

December 31st, 2015 No comments

The Mustangs will get back on the floor against the #24 team in the nation. Now, the last poll was in mid-December so I’m not sure Mines will be ranked in the next poll or would be today if another poll were published. Looking at their schedule, it’s been very favorable; 7 of their 11 games have been at home, with one road game at Christian which is 15 minutes away. They opened the season at #10 nationally but were only picked 3rd in the RMAC getting only 4 first place votes. They were behind CSU Pueblo in the Mountain Division pre-season poll.

Among their non-conference games, they got wins at home against St. Mary’s (5-5, Lubbock Christian (7-4 with wins over Regis, Lady of the Lake, Sul Ross & Little Girls of Baptist U) Evangel (2-10) and Haskell Indian U (3-9). Not a very impressive resume. They lost at Ft. Lewis, won at Adams State and Christian, lost to Mesa and beat Westminster, both at home. I’d say they are performing middle of the road right now and probably won’t even get votes in the new poll.

Mines is middle of the road in scoring, 76 per game (9th), with WNMU 66 ppg (15th). Mines is #3 in scoring defense, 66 per game, led by pre-season Defensive POTY, Gokul Nateson. The Mustangs aren’t too bad defensively #8 @ 75 ppg. Mines is very efficient offensively, 44% FG made #2 in the RMAC, while Western is dead last at 37%. Western NM is #3 in FG % defense limiting opponents to 41% made while Mines is #6 allowing 46% made.

Western is also #1 in 3 pt FG defense, 31% while Mines is #4 allowing 36%. Mines is #2 in 3 pt FG made, 39.9% and the Mustangs are dead last, making only 28% of their 3 pt shots. The Mustangs are being out rebounded 41-38, while Mines is up on their opponents, 34-31.

Really, Mines is very efficient; they move the ball well and that leads to a lot of assists off of made baskets. They will also create off the dribble as they look to push the tempo some, when they can, but create mismatches with the pass, tiring out the defense and working deeper into the clock on the set offense. Gokul is leading them with 21 pts per game; in fact it’s all about him; no one else even averages 9 pts a game. He hits 45% of his shots, will make a couple of threes, but is more of a guy who drives to the bucket.

Dallenbach and Waitsman average 8 per game. Waitsman is a 6-8 215 lb Jr who hits about 48% but only plays about 19 mins a game. He grabs about 5 boards a game, which leads the team, but G Zach Rusk is right behind at 4.6 boards per game. Dallenbach is 6-6 225 Sr F, who hits about 52% but gets only 3 boards a game. He also only plays about 1/2 the game.

But if you look down the roster, you see a lot of guys who play 9 or more minutes a game. 5 of them hit over 50% of their shots and everyone else hits over 42% except for PG Zach Rusk who hits only 34%. Talk about efficient. Rusk and Natesan lead the way in assists with 3 1/2 per game but just about everyone gets an assist or two per game. This is a balanced team that supports what Nateson does for them.

Compare that to WNMU, who’s leading scorer is Willie McCray at 12.5 per game. But when you look at any category for WNMU, I don’t think it makes much of a difference who is leading in any particular category, because there hasn’t been anyone who has been consistent in shooting, scoring, rebounding, etc.

In watching practice this past week, I’ve seen some things that are interesting to say the least. These are fundamentals that we’ve talked about with almost every team in the past, but I’m not sure why we don’t emphasize them. Coach Law was putting together a different drill, one Coach Coleman has used in the past; it’s a fast break type drill setting up 2 on 1, 3 on 2, 4 on 3 and 5 on 5. I watched for about 15 minutes and rarely did any of the wing players keep going to the bucket; almost exclusively they stop at the wing, usually on the three point line. If you are hitting 3 pt shots regularly or need to come from way behind, maybe that works; but man, get to the bucket when you have the numbers. That’s simple.

I also watched several drills where our outside players do not crash the boards when a shot is in the air. At best they are standing around the 3 pt line or at worst are heading back down court. Maybe this is how they are being coached but we are not a consistently good shooting team and need to get offensive boards and put backs or get to the line.

On the bright side, it looks like some of our help defense schemes are getting better. Coach has spent some time on this in practice and if we can take it to the game, we’ll continue to stay in games with good defense.

A couple of quick observations: several guys are out of shape, winded and/or throwing up after high intensity drills. And they are not freshman. That is flat out pathetic. I watched a couple of guys pull out of drills and get younger guys to go in. I asked; none reported being ill. IF you are that out of shape at this point in the season or your career, stay on the bench.

Some guys also appear to be mailing it in; going half speed in practice. That’s how you play, how you practice. The young guys are still playing hard and will continue to get better as the season goes on; can they keep their psyche together through tough times? I hope so because the core is there to have a good team in the next couple of years.

The RMAC at the break

December 29th, 2015 No comments

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It’s not the halfway point of the season but it’s the Christmas break, so it’s a good time to take a look at the RMAC standings and see which teams have been living up to, not living up to or exceeding expectations.

Early on in the season, entering RMAC play, there were some definite surprises, especially Metro State, who didn’t have a winning record, in fact they were 2-4. MSUD was picked to win the RMAC overall beating out CSU Pueblo by 7 overall points although both received 5 first place votes. On the other side, Westminster was not expected to do much, although part of that may have been due them just having joined the RMAC; but they exceeded early expectations by getting off to a 5-0 start then coming up with big wins over MSUD and Colorado Mesa to open the RMAC season.

But as usual, give teams time to get back into a rhythm, get players back from injury and get into the routine of the RMAC schedule and things will start to return to ‘normal’; for the most part.

MSU Denver moved back to the top of the Rocky Division tied with UC Colorado Springs at 4-1. UCCS has a solid 20 pt road win over Mesa, lost to Metro and dealt Westminster their only home loss of the season. Their other wins are at home against lowly Regis and middling Chadron State. Don’t expect them to sit on to of the division for too long as they hit the road against undefeated Ft. Lewis and then to Adams, with Mines, Westminster, and Mesa on the horizon.

Metro has what should be a good win against Mesa and easy wins against Regis and Chadron; they’ll also face FLC and ASU as they are UCCS’s travel partners. We’ll find out just how much better they are soon.

The continuing surprise, underperformer is Colorado Mesa, which warms the cockles of our hearts. Despite having Ryan Stephan, the 6-10 259 Sr, pre-season player of the year and an absolute beast; they are 2-3 in the RMAC and 6-5 overall. They have played a tougher schedule with losses to Metro and UCCS as well as Westminster in SLC but got a good win over Mines in OT. They have South Dakota Mines and Black Hills at home, not easy wins but they should get the W’s before facing Metro, UCCS and Ft. Lewis. They could conceivably be out of the running early if Stephan doesn’t get any help.

NM Highlands is clearly the biggest surprise of the year so far, sitting atop of the Mountain Division at 5-0. They were picked to finish 10th overall in the pre-season poll and 6th in the Mt division. Don’t get too excited yet Cowboy fans, their current record is built on easy wins, WNMU being one of those. But also wins over the Dakota schools, Western Colorado and a solid win over Pueblo; although I’d say that Pueblo may not be as good as everyone thought they would be; based upon what we did to them. But they have Mines and Christian with before they go back to Pueblo and Western State. They’ll lose 3 of those 4 and come back to earth before getting Regis and some easier matches again.

FLC is also slightly exceeding early expectations; they were picked 6th overall and 3rd in the Mt division. They are 4-1 and 9-1 overall. They feasted on home cooking and easy games against Haskell Indian and Evangel in the non-conference schedule before getting good wins against Mines and Pueblo along with Western Colorado and Christian. Their lone loss was at rival Adams State to open the conference schedule. They have Springs and Metro at home which are winnable before 4 road games at Christian, Mines, Mesa, and Westminster; not any easy ones in that grouping. We’ll know a lot more about the Skyhawks but not for a few weeks.

Everything else in the RMAC is about what you thought with the Chadrons, Regis, Dakota schools and everyone else in the middle of the pack or bringing up the rear.

Mustangs host CSU P

December 11th, 2015 No comments

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The Mustangs open the home RMAC schedule with what might be one of the toughest contests on the schedule. It didn’t appear to be that way but CSUP is playing very well early in the season. Of note, they got huge wins over nationally ranked teams and they’ve won 5 of 6 road games including a 3 point win over Western State Colorado in their RMAC opener last week.

CSUP’s lost to then #22 Midwestern State in Pueblo by 16 before turning around a week later and beating then #11 Midwestern State on the road by 13. But the bigger win came about a week later on the road as the T-wolves downed the top ranked team in the nation, Tarleton State, on Tarleton’s home floor in a 3 pt overtime victory. Despite those two very impressive victories, CSUP is not ranked nationally but is getting votes in the polls.

The T-wolves are led by a 6-1 sharp shooting guard, Chris Golden. He can light it up and hits about 41% of his shots overall but is 28-60 from downtown, 48%. Golden ranks #5 nationally in 3 pt shots made per game, 7.4, while the team is #18 nationally with 10 three pointers made per game.

Josh Smith, 6-5 guard, is the other hot shooter; 51% from the floor with 41% from deep. He comes off the bench and gives them a huge spark offensively. Against Western State he hit 4-8 from downtown.

The team can go deep scoring wise but they are also very athletic. They will push the tempo when they can and they play aggressive defense, trying to trap out of the 1-3-1 and 2-3 zones. The will create 15 turnovers per game but also turn it over 14 times. What they are really hoping to do, is force you into a bad shot choice and they want to beat you from beyond the arc.

One bright spot, Bronson Moton, who has been a top tier player for CSU Pueblo, has left the team and won’t be a problem for us as he has been in the past.

The Mustangs are still looking for that right mix in the line up. Look for another couple of changes in the starting line up tonight. We’ll talk more about that on tonight’s broadcast.

RMAC this week

December 10th, 2015 No comments

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The RMAC schedule got under way this past weekend with all travel partners playing each other on Saturday, except for SD Mines and Black Hills State, who played on Tuesday. There were a couple of surprises, mild, and now only 1 undefeated team overall. Most of the games were fairly close, with WNMU losing to Highlands by 20 as the lone blowout (that wasn’t really a blowout).

In the Mountain Division, #15 Colorado Mines, CSU Pueblo, Adams State, & NMHU all got wins and are 1-0, while Ft Lewis, Colorado Christian, Western State, & WNMU suffered losses. In the Rocky Division, Westminster (5-0), Chadron State, South Dakota Mines, and MSU Denver all got wins, meaning Colorado Mesa, Black Hills State, UC Colorado Springs, and Regis suffered losses.

Probably the most interesting thing is Westminster. They were picked next to last in the RMAC pre-season coaches’ poll but are 5-0. Their non-conference schedule was not particularly tough, but they did lose by 1 to D-I Idaho State. Their RMAC win this week was over Colorado Mesa, who was picked 4th in the preseason poll; CMU also features Ryan Stephan, the 6-10 250 Sr Preseason POTY in the RMAC. He averaged 25 pts a game last year and has been a beast so far this year. The Griffins played solid defense holding the team to about 33% from the floor and Stephan to 4-15 overall. They also out rebounded the Mavs by a ton. That’s a big loss for CMU.

Metro State continues to be a conundrum. They got by UCCS at home by 3 points and UCCS is a good team, but without Derrick White, UCCS isn’t nearly what they were last year. Apparently neither is the preseason favorite, MSUD. They are struggling more than was expected. And really, struggling for them, meant they weren’t going to be a clear cut favorite in the RMAC.

FCL losing to Adams State in Alamosa was a mild upset. FLC had been playing very well and ASU isn’t as good as they normally are; not quite as athletic and that hurts their pressure defense and up tempo offense some. But they won a relatively low scoring game.

Friday games of interest this week included UCCS at Colorado Mesa and MSUD at Westminster. It will be interesting to see how both MSUD and WU react to this game. Is Westminster a real threat in the RMAC or is MSUD just an early season disappointment. UCCS at CMU; Mesa needs the win at home over a good team and will likely get it. Mines at FLC will be a good one as well. Mines has to look at this road trip as a possible split but the tough game will be against FLC where the Skyhawks are always very good.

Of course those games will be flipped on Saturday and MSUD, Mesa, Westminster, & UCCS will be playing tough games on Saturday.

NMHU pulls away from Western

December 9th, 2015 No comments

It clearly wasn’t a great basketball game last week against our instate rival, but it was close and exciting for about 80% of the game. The Cowboys kept trying to pull away from the Mustangs, but Western just kept hanging around. When NH Highlands would build a lead and seem to pull away, the Stangs found a way to fight back into the game, but in the end, it was defensive breakdowns that allowed Highlands to pull away in the last 7-8 minutes and put the game into the win column keeping WNMU winless.

The shooting wasn’t consistently great for Western but neither was it good for Highlands. Part of that was the Stang defense would turn up the pressure at times and force them into bad shots. Willie McCray is developing into a solid defender and is drawing the assignment of guarding the best ball handler for the other team.

I like that, at times, the offense was a bit more aggressive as well, trying to go to the basket and drawing a lot of fouls. We took 29 free throw shots making 22, not too bad at 75%. Steven Loucks was 4-4 as was Jordan Enriquez and Makhtar Fall, who couldn’t buy a bucket, did make 5-6 from the charity stripe. Willie didn’t have a good day from the line, 5-10 which is unusual for him. But he seemed to set that tone of getting inside and drawing the defense into the paint.

The problem is, you’ve got to finish inside more often or kick the ball out for a made shot and we’re still shooting poorly, 33% overall, and 6-21 from downtown (29%). Steven and Jordan led the way with 15 points, but while Steven was 5-9 from the floor, Jordan was 4-12 (3-7 from deep). The move to the bench and taking some of that pressure off of him has been good and he’ll get even more comfortable as the season progresses and his shooting % will improve. Steven, just take about 5-6 more shots a game.

Emery was 2-7 and needs to find more open shots but he’s got to be a consistent scorer for us to win. Willie either needs to take more shots or get more assists, which of course means other guys have to make their shots after he gets them the ball. Part of the problem, is guys just don’t know how to run a defender off a screen to really create space; that will get Emery more shots, as well as Jordan more open shots.

Rebounding was a huge issue, 50-27, leading to 19 second chance points for Highlands compared to Westerns 4 second chance points. Part of that is technique, boxing out and part of it is crashing the boards, especially on the offensive end. But some shots are being taken early in the offensive set when the Stangs aren’t in position to even try to get a board.

But it was defensive breakdowns in the last 1/4 of the game that gave Highlands some wide open dunks and layups. All afternoon we seemed to be missing in the rotation defense and especially in the end, the help defense wasn’t there. That’s just fundamental basketball and can be fixed easily, or it should be. Some of it may be the youth and being unfamiliar with the college games but still, protecting the basket is something that should come naturally.

We had our chances to take control and just couldn’t get over the hump. We are watching guys begin to grow into the college game but it takes time and experience, which can’t come as fast as we would like. The key for the coaching staff will be to keep the mental attitude positive and keep the guys trying. That also has to come from them as well.

Mustangs need a win tomorrow…

November 30th, 2015 No comments

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WNMU is still looking for the first win of the season after coming close on 3 occasions. Quite honestly, if the Stangs don’t get a win in the rematch against Benedictine University tomorrow night, they may be looking for a long time to come. The RMAC schedule starts after that game and it’s going to be against some better competition than what we’ve seen so far.

This edition of WNMU’s team is still looking for it’s identity. Part of the problem is that there is not a floor leader or two, a player who wants to take the 14-15 shots a game and can make most of them. A player who can take the team on his shoulders and keep them in a game or carry them to victory. I’m not necessarily talking about a dominant player but someone who sets the tone and other guys find their roles in the scheme and do what they need for the team to win. There are a couple of freshman on the squad who could fill that role in the future but they aren’t in position to take it on right now.

On the defensive side, WNMU has got to have a more consistent effort. Shooting comes and goes for everyone (Steph Curry not withstanding) but hustle and smarts should be consistent; defense is based purely on hustle and smarts. It seems like this team lets its success on the offensive end dictate how hard they try on the defensive end. If guys are shooting well on offense, the defensive intensity is notched up; if the ball’s not falling for us, the defense is lacking in intensity.

Defense can keep a team in every game. The potential is there with Makhtar, Carter, and Daniel inside. They can and have disrupted the inside game and our rebounding has been more competitive early this year than it has been in past years; we’ve out rebounded our opponent in more games than not so far. We also have some shot blocking ability that we haven’t had in the past.

Emery is averaging almost a double/double. Steven has to pick up his scoring game as do Tanter and Adam, who are both shooting horribly. One of the tough things about a passing based game plan on offense, is guys tend to stand around too much. They’ve got to move better on offense. We’ve seen what happens when there is good movement, guys get open and get some easier shot opportunities.

Talking to the coaches, BenU was able to come back last week and get the win, because they were a step or two ahead of us going after loose balls, getting to rebounds, or playing defense; that allowed them to come from behind in the 2nd half and pull out the win.

BenU has had 3 games since we played them, all were losses but were competitive games. They lost to San Diego Christian by 10, Trinity International by 14 and Vanguard University by 6. All three opponents have winning records; two are undefeated. BenU continues to go deep into their bench and rotates a lot of guys in and out of the game. They are still getting double digit scoring from 2-3 guys a game and the 2-3 that provide it is rotating depending upon the hot hand. Tough to defend against.

Another tough loss

November 22nd, 2015 No comments

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There were probably a couple of things you could expect from the Mustangs on Friday night at they took on Benedictine University in Mesa AZ. First, maybe they’d have a bit of a let down after the emotionally draining loss against NNM; second, Willie McCray would not have a good night after exploding for 39 on Monday. I think both came true, at least to some extent.

The Mustangs had been shooting well, not great, averaging about 40% overall while still shooting poorly, about 27%, from downtown. That goes against what the coaches thought might be the character of this team before the season started. There was a feeling that the team wouldn’t be able to get a lot of inside shots and might have to live and die off of the three point shot. But we’ve done a pretty good job of getting to the bucket so far; albeit against lesser defenses.

But they fell to 38% shooting overall against BenU, and still can’t hit a 3 point bucket; 5-22 (22.7%) on the night. They did shoot well from the line, 10-13 but BenU hit 17 out of 23 from the charity stripe. From what we saw, there was a bit of home cooking but the Mustangs don’t do a great job of creating contact to draw the foul.

Once again the Stangs out rebounded their opponents, 37-36, which continues a positive trend. And a big stat, Western only turned the ball over 12 times on the night, while creating 13 for their opponents.

The difference in the 8 point loss came on 3 more made three point shots and 7 more made FT’s. I know the math doesn’t add up, based upon that it should have been a 10 point win, not 8. But it’s BenU, in their first year of the program and it showed in their game management.

Emery Range didn’t continue his streak of double/doubles but led the team with 12 points on much better shooting, 6-12, than he’s had this season. Makhtar Fall tied for the rebounding lead with 8 in just 24 minutes after getting into foul trouble. Big thing for him was the zero in the turnover column.

As expected, Jordan moved to the bench and while it wasn’t a great performance, he did finally find the bucket, hitting 3-9 and 3-4 from the charity stripe, ending the night with 10 points. That’s what we need from him at this point in early in his career.

The scoring was fairly even on down the line, Tanter 9; McCray 7; Loucks 6; Aby 7; Kesler 6; Saenz & Fall 4. That’s nice to have everyone scoring in that range except that 2 of your starters, Loucks & McCray have got to score more. Between them and Tanter, they were 8-27 from the floor including 2-12 from downtown. Tanter did not get to the free throw line at all. While our offense is not necessarily predicated on the inside-out game, he’s still got to be getting inside and drawing some fouls to keep the defense honest.

While BenU didn’t provide the stats on how points were scored; our impression is that the WNMU defense allowed way to many inside the paint points. BenU had 17 assists as a team and got a lot of inside shots. We’ve got to be tougher inside; now understanding that Loucks and Fall both got called for tic-tac fouls inside which keeps them from being more aggressive.

The Stangs will get another chance at BenU in Silver City on the first. We’ll see if home cooking can spark them to their first win.

A thriller with a sad ending

November 17th, 2015 No comments

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The Mustangs were part of one of the most exciting games to ever be played on Drag’s Court, unfortunately they came out on the short end 107-108 against Northern New Mexico College after it took 4 overtime periods to decided the issue.

There were a lot of positives to take away from the night, as well as some negatives that have to improve. Willy McCray exploded on the night for 39 points, just missing the WNMU single game record by a point. He made some key shots, showed that he can get to the basket and finish, as well as hitting some key free throws down the stretch. He also played good defense and handled the ball well.

Carter Aby also came up with some big plays, including a three point shot to extend the game beyond the 2nd OT stanza. He’s not strong but played passably well inside and got some key rebounds and blocked or altered a few shots to force misses. Carter will get stronger and needs to play a bit more aggressively on defense, but there is a ton of potential there.

The Mustangs turned it over 33 times, essentially in a game and a half, but that’s still way too many mistakes. We also got out boarded by a ton. It didn’t help that Makhtar Fall fouled out early in the 2nd half. His presence inside was missed. Big Mac can be more aggressive offensively, looking for his shot more, as he’s got strength to create space and a nice soft touch.

One of the keys to staying in the game was the play of the younger/newer players. Emery Range had a double/double, very quietly. But at key points and for most of the OT, it was McCray, Aby, Range, Enriquez, Van Den Kerkhoff, and Weeks on the floor. Loucks, Williams, Tanter were all in foul trouble or not effective and on the bench. The performance of the young guys gives us reason to hope that the team will continue to improve as the season moves along.

Free throw shooting was good in regulation, 75% from the stripe in both halves, but it dropped significantly in the OT periods, as did overall shooting. Some of the shot selection in OT needed to improved, a few shots were taken too early in the rotation and the shooter was off balance or not squared up to the basket. Those things should improve as players get more comfortable with the system and their role in the overall scheme.

There is a lot of improving to do, defensively especially, but the light is there. It just needs to get brighter quickly. There will certainly be ups and downs but these are the types of games that the Stangs should feel confident that they can win in the future.

Mustangs open at home against Northern New Mexico

November 16th, 2015 No comments

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I know what some of you are saying, “What’s Northern New Mexico?” There is a college in Espanola and they’ve been around since 1901, or so they claim, in some form or another. They’ve been a junior college and a 4 year institution and come close to closing a number of times. They’ve been a high school with college curriculum, starting as a teacher’s school for Spanish language students. While most of their life has been primarily as a community college, they were given the OK 10 years ago to offer a 4 year degree elementary education and a year later the OK to offer any four year degree.

Athletically they are an NAIA school meaning they can take anyone they can get to fog a mirror. They offer basketball and cross country for both men and women. Until last year, they basically recruited Northern NM and into AZ. They were always small and fast. But over the last couple of years, head coach Riley Cordova has realized he can recruit from all over and has a varied roster, ranging from NM and AZ kids to adding kids from NC, VA and Egypt, Brazil, and Cameroon.

They are coming off a 20 win season and just missed getting back to back AII Conference championships losing the last game of the season in a thriller to the Ashford Saints. The Eagles are tabbed as the #2 team in their conference in the pre-season poll.

As usual they will try to play an uptempo game and will go deep into their bench. No one on the roster averages more than 19 minutes; in fact 4 guys average 18-19 minutes a game and only one guy gets less than 10 minutes a game, he gets 9.5 minutes a game. They are a mix of young players with experienced players; 8 freshman or sophomores, with 9 upperclassmen. 4 are transfers from other schools while the rest have been in the program.

The Eagles are 2-1, getting easy wins over Dine College & Future College, 111-43 & 96-65. Their lone regular season loss was to Arizona Christian, ranked #4 in NAIA(?), 61-79. They did lose to exhibition games to RMAC members, Adams State (91-80) and Colorado Springs (88-71). Both schools are pretty good.

Physically, WNMU and NNMC are similar with some decent size but a lot of guys in that 6-4 to 6-5 range with lanky builds. Like us they don’t have a ‘go-to’ scorer but a lot of guys contribute. Only 2 players average double figures with a whole bunch of guys getting 6-7 points a game. That means defense, team defense, will be key for the Mustangs.

Marcus Ellis, a 6-2 guard, leads the way with 11 ppg and a season high of 14 against ACU. He’s a decent 3 point shooter, 3-7 on the year, but prefers to get inside and create on his own. He is a solid defender and will get 2-3 steals a game but will also turn it over a couple of times.

Thomas Bullock, 5-9 guard, is second in scoring at just under 11 per game but he’s had a couple of good games, 13 & 15, while being held to just 4 against Az Christian. He shoots 75% from the field, having hit all 6 shots against Future College and 5-8 against Dine.

Their leading rebounder is Patrick Bendegue, 6-7 220 center. He’s grabbing about 8 per game and can get off inside, if he’s playing against smaller players. He was also shut down by ACU as they have players inside who can match up with him defensively. Makthar Fall will get the task of handling him inside.

As we said, there are a lot of guys who can score 6-7 a game. They are very active but for the most part create their own shots, their leading assist man has only 3 per game and isn’t a starter. They’ll push the ball up the floor and penetrate off of the set offense, looking for high percentage shots. They hit about 48% from the floor. They do turn it over a lot, almost 20 per game but they also create about 20 turnovers per game for their opponents.

They do not shoot free throws well, 57% from the stripe on 54 attempts. They also hit only about 31% of their 3 pt attempts. But they will out rebound their opponents by a ton as they crash the boards well.

In a quick overview, the Mustangs are relying on Makhtar Fall for about 15 a game while several guys are getting between 5-9 a game. We are shooting solid from inside, 43% overall, but terrible from 3 point range, 22% and the charity stripe, 46%. We have been out rebounding our opponents but need to protect the ball better, a lot better.

This is a game we can win and after losing two on the road to OPSU, we need to get a win tonight. We’ll go into more detail in the tip off show.

Mustang Basketball shows promise in two losses

November 15th, 2015 No comments

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WNMU basketball is in another rebuilding mode after a dismal season last year. But there seems to be some cause for hope in watching the team’s openers at Oklahoma Panhandle State on Friday and Saturday. If the Mustangs can learn to shoot free throws and not turn the ball over a million times a game, we’ll be at worst competitive and we’ll have a chance to win some games. I can say one thing, we look more like a college basketball team than we have in a couple of years.

In the season opener, WNMU outshot OPSU percentage wise, 40% to 37%; out rebounded the Aggies 49-34 (I don’t think we’ve had that big a margin in a decade); and had more points in the paint, fast break points and bench points. But we had 37 turnovers which led to 23 points in a 21 point defeat. Not to mention we hit only 12-22 free throw attempts and were 1-14 from downtown. The turnovers allowed OPSU to take 75 shots compared to our 55.

In game two, a 9 point loss, it was more of the same but not on as big of a scale. We improved our shooting percentage to 46%, including a 50% clip in the first half, while OPSU hit only 38% & 19% from downtown. We won the rebounding battle again, 44-36 and our bench added 26 points to 12 from their bench. But we went 10-22 from the charity stripe, the Aggies were 27-35. The Stangs had 23 turnovers leading to 23 points for the home team. You can’t overcome that many mistakes.

The Mustangs have some young players who are going to have to learn but each improved in the second game so maybe there’s some hope to see this team get better as the season progresses.

Bright spots include transfer Makhtar Fall, 6-8 220 Sr, who led the Mustangs in scoring and rebounding both nights; 14 & 9 followed by 16 & 7 in the second game. He gives WNMU an inside presence that we’ve haven’t had in a decade.

Emery Range, 6-5 190 Jr, is another player not afraid to get the ball inside. He added 5 pts and 8 rebounds followed by a double/double, 11 & 11.

Steven Loucks, the returning Jr 6-7 190, didn’t see a lot of playing time on night one due to foul trouble getting 5 pts and 2 boards in 16 mins but he came back strong with a double/double as well, 11 pts & 10 rebounds.

There are several young guys with potential to grow into solid players and maybe a couple of stars in the group. Jordan Enriquez, Carter Aby, & Willie McCray all saw significant playing time and contributed to the effort. They will be inconsistent early but look for them to grow quickly into their roles.

Brandon Tanter, Brandon Williams, and Adam Kessler will all see more playing time, but one of them needs to step up and seize the role of floor leader as the ball handler. They’ve got to be enough of a scoring threat, driving inside, to keep defenses honest and they’ve got to protect the ball. Some of those turnovers are not on them, with a lot of new faces, guys don’t always know where to be and when the PG is trying to move the ball quickly, errant passes happen. It’s just like the timing between a QB and a WR.

There is room to hope based upon the performances at OPSU. Panhandle is a team that is similar to ours, they are coming off of a bad season with a lot of new faces. We just need to protect the ball, find a couple of consistent scorers and continue to rebound, block shots and hustle. We’ll get some wins if that happens.