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NMHU pulls away from Western

December 9th, 2015 Leave a comment Go to 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.

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