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.