Opponent Preview for 2/7/19: Wofford

On Thursday, ETSU will take on the Wofford Terriers at Freedom Hall. Wofford is 11-0 in the Socon, 19-4 overall and #31 in Kenpom.

Wofford is the most experienced team in the SoCon with the best overall talent that Mike Young has ever had . With all the disciplined offense that you expect from a Mike Young team: 15th in D1 in Adjusted Offense in Kenpom’s ranking to 97th for ETSU. But overall Defense according to Kenpom is 93rd in D1 to 50th for ETSU. 

Experience

Led by Seniors Cam Jackson (14.5 ppg with 7.1 rebounds) and Fletcher Magee (20.9 ppg on .412 with 4.5 makes from 3) and Junior Nate Hoover (14.0 ppg on .450 from 3 with 2.5 makes). With Sophomores 6-9 225 Keve Aluma and 5-11 point guard Storm Murphy who have already had a year as starters. They’ve all played together for from 1 to 4 years. These 5 guys get 22 to 33 minutes and carry the load. With Junior Trevor Stumpe rejoining the lineup the last 2 games, he adds another experienced 20 minute a game guy with shooting, passing and rebounding. When he’s healthy he makes everybody on this team better.

There are 3 key role players getting 12-15 minutes: 6-9 225 Rs-So Charleston transfer Chevez Goodwin, who has already had a year working with them in practice while he sat out last season, 6-2 185 So Tray Hollowell and 6-0 180 Fr Ryan Larson. Stepping into a crew like this is a little like joining the New England Patriots. Everybody accepts and knows an unselfish disciplined system, and the new guys get brought right along.

A fourth guy joins the rotation if he’s healthy: 6-11 260 Senior Matt Pegram, a key part of their win over the Bucs, has missed the last 2 games to an ankle injury. He’ll get 15 minutes if he’s healthy. Last time against the Bucs he got 19 minutes, 10 points on 5-7 shooting and 6 rebounds.

Rebounding

Wofford is dead even with Bucs in rebounding in conference play at +8.0 per game. In the last 5 games they have been better as the Bucs have averaged +3.6. Last time out they kicked our butts inside, outrebounding us by 13, 36-23. They are led by 6-8 255 wrecking ball Cam Jackson (7.1 rpg in conference) , much improved 6-9 225 So. Keve Aluma (7.9 rpg), and 6-9 225 Goodwin (4.1). And this is the best ever Bucs team for rebounding margin. Mike Young has been handing out much deserved compliments to his new strength and conditioning coach. He says it was embarrassing that weren’t better in that area until this year. ETSU was frankly not entirely ready for them on December 1st, not quite a month into the season, with Lucas N’Guessan not yet eligible, and on their home court in Spartanburg. It was the worst early SoCon matchup that an inexperienced team could have gotten. Jeromy got 7 rebounds, 5 to Bo, 1 to Mladen – no N’Guessan. If 6-11 260 Senior Matt Pegram (3.8 rpg in conference, but 6 against the Bucs) is out they could have a tougher time inside. We’ll see if he plays. And what effect Lucas N’Guessan has. I hope that Lucas brings the energy and aggressiveness that he showed against Chattanooga. He could be a real difference maker. And is Jeromy healthy after a couple of games below his usual astronomically high standards?

Wofford is 18th in D1 in ppg with 83.3 – ETSU is 38th with 80.1. They are 7th in D1 in 3 pointers per game at 10.9 and 6th in D1 in 3pt% at .410 (but are even better in conference at .431). Fletcher Magee has come back from an uneven OOC start to hit 20.9 points on .412 from 3 with 4.5 makes in conference. 

Wofford is 43rd in D1 in ppg allowed – ETSU is 64th . But as noted, the Bucs rate significantly higher in overall Defensive efficiency in Kenpom’s ranking (50th to 93rd ). ETSU is slightly higher in FG% defense (.438 to .447) and about even in 3pt% defense (.359 to .357 for Wofford, with 8.6 makes allowed to 8.2 makes allowed for Wofford).

Turnovers and points off turnovers have been big for the Bucs in recent games. Turnovers were one area where we led Wofford the first time out, forcing 15 from them and making only 9, our second lowest total all season. 

The Terriers have struggled at times in the winter conference slog and should have lost at home to Samford. But in their last 2 games against Mercer and Citadel they were crushing it. 

A week ago Kenpom had the Bucs favored by 1. Right now they have Wofford favored by a single point (71-70) in what they see as a “51%-49%” call. This game isn’t the season – that will play out in March in Asheville. But it should be a good measure of how far we’ve come in the two long months since December 1st. 

All stats are conference play only, unless otherwise noted:

Guards:
#03 6-4 195 Sr. Fletcher Magee; 33.4 min., 20.9 ppg, .412 from 3 (4.5 makes), but only .477 2 pt FG%, 2.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.6 t.o.’s
#10 6-4 180 Jr. Nate Hoover; 29.3 min., 14.0 ppg, .450 from 3 (2.5 makes), .481 from 2, 1.9 rebounds
#5 5-11 180 So. Storm Murphy; 25.9 min., 7.1 ppg, .586 from 3 (1.5 makes), .478 from 2, 1.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.3 t.o.’s
#21 6-2 185 So. Tray Hollowell; 12.7 min., 5.5 ppg, .536 from 3 (1.4 makes), .368 from 2, 1.7 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.6 t.o.’s
#11 6-1 175 Fr. Ryan Larson; 14.3 min., 3.0 ppg, .222 from 3 (0.2 makes), 1.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.3 t.o.’s
#31 6-1 185 Jr. Donovan Theme-Love; in 9 of 11 games, 7.7 min., 1.3 ppg, .333 from 3 (0.2 makes), 1.1 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.2 t.o.’s

Front Court:
#33 6-7 250 Rs-Sr Cam Jackson; 22.3 min., 14.5 ppg, .600 from 3 (0.3 makes), 7.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.5 t.o.’s, 1.3 blocks, 1.5 steals
#24 6-9 225 So. Keve Aluma; 27.7 min., 7.9 ppg, 0 from 3, 7.9 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.5 t.o’s, 0.9 steals, 0.7 blocks
#01 6-9 225 So-Tr Chevez Goodwin; 12.3 min., 3.7 ppg, 0 from 3, 4.1 rebounds, only 1 block on the year, 0.9 t.o.’s
#15 6-5 205 Jr. Trevor Stumpe; (2 games) 20.5, 4.0 ppg, .143 from 3 (0.5 makes) 2.0 rebounds, 0.5 assists 
#50 6-11 260 Sr Matt Pegram; (missed last 2 games with injury) 15.0 min., 6.9 ppg, .182 from 3 (0.2 makes), 3.8 rebounds, 0.3 blocks

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Opponent Preview for 2/2/19: Chattanooga

Today the Bucs will face the Chattanooga Mocs inside of Mckenzie Arena. The Mocs are 5-5 in conference, 10-13 overall and ranked #253 by Kenpom. That’s a big improvement over last year’s 3-15 and 10-23 overall. Their home loss Thursday to Western Carolina, only their 2nd home loss all year, was a major disappointment. The Catamounts had been their only SoCon road win and they came into Chattanooga and returned the favor.

At 5-5 in the SoCon, Chattanooga has won more games in conference than their stats would suggest. But that looks like an artifact of the schedule since all 5 of their wins have been against the lowest 5 ranked teams in the conference, and 4 of those 5 wins have been at home, with only the win against Western Carolina on the road. Since they play 4 of those 5 teams on the road the second time around, and their road record is 2-9, it is likely that their second half conference record won’t be as good. In Chattanooga they have beaten both Samford and Mercer. Their most impressive game to date was probably their loss at Wofford last week where they were leading the top ranked Terriers in Spartanburg 42-34 in the 2nd half, and were still tied with 11:00 to go before the Wofford pulled away. 

Their SoCon opponents outscore them (78.2-74.7), outrebound them (-4.9 rebound margin), and make fewer turnovers (-1.4 turnover margin). The Mocs are average SoCon defenders, holding SoCon opponents to .522 from 2 (5th)and 8.2 makes from 3 (4th ). They shoot 3’s well, .382 (3rd in conference) with 9.4 makes (4th in conference). But they don’t score that efficiently inside with a 6th in conference .535 from 2. And they shoot free throws almost as badly as the Bucs with a 9th in conference .696. It would be nice if the Bucs could get back to ruling the boards, and continue improving their turnover margin. 

In SoCon games six guys carry the load for the Mocs, averaging 23 to 29 minutes (6-6 230 Easley, 6-8 240 Vila and guards Toatley, Johnson, Jean-Baptiste, and Scott). Three others get 11 to 13 minutes: 7 footer Thomas Smallwood (4.9 ppg, 2.4 rebounds), 6-4 A.J. Caldwell ( 1.9 ppg, 1.4 rebounds) and 6-0 Fr Maurice Commander (2.0 ppg, 1.2 rebounds). Nobody else gets significant time or production. Of the top 6 players, 2 are freshmen (2 of the best freshmen in the league in 6-6 230 Kevin Easley with 17.1 ppg and 6.9 rebounds, and explosive 5-9 guard Donovann Toatley with 12.4 ppg and 2.9 assists), a 3rd player (6-8 240 transfer Ramon Vila) has only been eligible for 13 games and a 4th and 5th (Johnson and Scott) are transfers new to the rotation this year. Gr transfer Smallwood is the only Senior who plays. Which is to say that a team full of new additions may still be improving. Of course much the same could be said of the Bucs. 

The Bucs will be the first of the top 4 SoCon teams that the Mocs will face at home – they’d love to make them their first real conference upset of the season. Last time they played, the Bucs had one of their steadiest performances of the season, shooting well from 3 (9-18), well from the free throw line (15-20 75%), controlling the boards (37-27) and winning the turnover battle (12-13). It’ll be tougher to do at their place, but that’s the kind of game they need to get in the habit of playing.

Stats cited are conference only:
Front Court:
#34 6-6 230 Fr. Kevin Easley; 29.1 minutes, 17.1 ppg on .469 from 3 with 2.3 makes, 6.9 rebounds, 2.0 t.o.’s
#15 6-8 242 R-So. Ramon Vila; 25.1 minutes, 11.8 ppg, no 3’s, 5.1 rebounds 
#1 6-4 200 Jr. Jonathan Scott; 29.7 minutes, 6.9 ppg on .533 from 3 with 1.6 makes , 2.9 rebounds 
#33 7-0 241 Sr. Thomas Smallwood; 11.3 minutes, 4.9 ppg on .615 from 3 with 0.9 makes, 2.4 rebounds 
#22 6-7 211 Fr. Keigan Kerby; (6 of 10 games), 10.5 minutes, 2.3 ppg, .222 from 3 with 0.3 makes, 1.8 rebounds 
#25 6-10 205 R-Fr. Justin Brown; (7 of 10 conference games), 6.3 minutes, 0.9 ppg, no 3’s, 1.1 rebounds 

Guard:
#5 5-9 179 Fr. Donovann Toatley, 26.1 minutes, 12.4 ppg on .286 from 3 with 0.9 makes, 2.9 assists, 2.3 t.o.’s 
#3 6-1 191 R-So. David Jean-Baptiste; 31.2 minutes 10.1 ppg on .410 from 3 with 1.8 makes, 3.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.2 steals 
#2 6-1 220 R-Jr. Jerry Johnson, Jr.; 24.2 minutes, 10.0 ppg on .347 from 3 with 1.7 makes, 3.5 rebounds 
# 6-4 200 So. A.J. Caldwell; 13.7 minutes, 1.9 ppg, 1.4 rebounds 
#4 6-0 167 Fr. Maurice Commander (6 of 10 conference games), 12.8 minutes, 2.0 ppg on .083 from 3 with 0.2 makes

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Opponent Preview for 1/31/19: Samford

The Bucs will take on Samford in Birmingham on Thursday, January 31st. The Bulldogs took ETSU to overtime in Freedom Hall, and on Thursday the Bucs will be playing at their place. They are coming off a win at Furman and an OT game at Wofford that they should have won. They played UNCG down to the wire.

As with most teams, their rotation has tightened in conference with the top 5 increasing their minutes (Sharkey 36.7; Austin 35.1; Allen 32.1, Gordon 31.8 and Guerrero 28.7) and everybody else dropping down. Kevion Nolan (.529 from 3 with 1.5 makes) gets 16.7 minutes seeing action in 6 of 9 conference games and averaging 5.8 points. Deandre Thomas and Stefan Lakic get about 10 minutes and 2 points apiece. They live and die with the top 5. 

Samford is a strong offensive team ranked 87th in offense in D1 by Kenpom compared to 106th for ETSU on the season as a whole. However, the Bucs do rank a notch higher than Samford in conference only offensive statistics. The Bulldogs can score inside with broad shouldered 7 foot 240 Guerrero, 6-8 200 Freshman Robert Allen and Sharkey penetrating. Or outside with the best 3 point shooting team in the SoCon at .417 with 8.9 makes, 9th in D1 on the season. Main shooters are 6-5 Alabama transfer Brandon Austin (.449 with 3.4 makes in conference), 6-8 freshman Robert Allen who has really upped his game in conference (.481 with 1.4 makes), and Myron Gordon (.370 with 1.1 makes), with subs Kevion Nolan (.529 with 1.5 makes) and Deandre Thomas (.444 with 0.4 makes) joining in when they get off the bench. Sharkey will fire them up but is hitting only .276 with 0.9 makes in conference. In conference the Bucs are at .376 from 3 with 8.6 makes. Last time the Bucs were 1-11 from 3 in the second half, while Samford on the game was .375 from the arc, 9-24.

The Bulldogs are a high scoring like ETSU (81.7 ppg to 81.3 for the Bucs in conference), just behind Wofford in the top slot at 83.4.

Handling Sharkey was a real challenge last time, with multiple players taking a turn on him, and even bigs Armus and N’Guessan taking a shot at the end. He’s a master of the drive and dish averaging an unheard of 9.7 assists in conference, and is 4th in D1 in 3PT% on the season with 7.5. When he passes out to the perimeter, they have the guys to knock it down. Despite Sharkey’s excellence, ETSU is better with assists as a team, averaging 16.7 assists to Samford’s 15.8 in SoCon play. 

Hopefully it won’t come down to free throws, since Samford is tops in the SoCon with .757 and 15.2 makes in conference. None of their top 5 average under .724 from the line, though bench players Nolan and Lakic are in the .500’s. Meanwhile the Bucs are last with .636 and 9.9 makes. Last time we played Samford the Bucs were 12-21 for .571 from the line.

The Bucs have the rebounding edge with +9.1 in conference to -1.1 for Samford. We won the boards 48-21 last time, and need to make a statement there again.

Steals (7.9 to 7.4) and turnover margin (+0.56 to 0.0) are even. Sharkey is 8th in D1 in steals on the season and leads the SoCon with 3.0 in conference. 

Bucs have the edge in defense where they are rated 56th in D1 by Kenpom to 197th for Samford. ETSU leads the SoCon with a .437 field goal percentage defense (to Samford’s .465) and allows .357 from 3 to a last in conference .378 for Samford. 

Kenpom has us favored by a single point, 72-71. With the way that the Bulldogs have played ETSU, Furman, Wofford and UNCG (and Belmont and UT for that matter), it’s pretty much guaranteed to be a battle all the way. 

All stats below are conference only:
Guards:
#3 5-10 170 Jr Josh Sharkey, 36.7 minutes, 17.4 ppg on .276 with 0.9 makes from 3, 3.8 rebounds, 9.7 assists, 5.0 t.o.’s and 3.0 steals
#0 6-5 200 R-Jr Alabama Transfer Brandon Austin, 35.1 minutes, 15.8 ppg on .449 with 3.4 makes from 3, 6.0 rebounds, 1.2 steals
#4 6-3 180 Jr Myron Gordon, 31.8 minutes, 11.4 ppg on .370 with 1.1 makes from 3, 2.9 rebounds
#1 6-2 170 So Kevion Nolan, 16.7 minutes, 5.8 ppg on .529 with 1.5 makes from 3, 1.5 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.3 t.o.
#5 6-4 190 Fr Deandre Thomas, 11.6 minutes, 2.2 ppg on .444 from 3 with 0.4 makes, 0.8 rebounds

Front Court:
#32 7-0 240 R-Sr USF Transfer Ruben Guerrero, 28.7 minutes, 13.2 ppg on .575 FG%, no 3’s, 7.9 rebounds, 2.1 t.o.’s, 2.1 blocks
#21 6-8 200 Fr Robert Allen, 32.1 minutes, 12.7 ppg on .481 with 1.4 makes from 3, 6.6 rebounds, 1.9 t.o.’s, 0.4 blocks
#22 6-8 235 Fr Logan Dye, 7.6 minutes, 2.8 ppg on .632 FG%, no 3’s, 0.7 rebounds, 0.9 t.o.’s
#15 6-7 220 Sr Stefan Lakic, 9.4 minutes, 1.9 ppg, 0.9 rebounds

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Opponent Preview for 1/26/19: Western Carolina

On Saturday, January 26th, ETSU will travel to Western Carolina (5-16, 2-6 in the SoCon) who is ranked #294 by KenPom. Even though the Catamounts have only won 5 games so far they appear to be much improved over last year. They took Furman to double overtime on the road, played UNCG better than ETSU did, going down to the wire before losing by 9. They beat Samford more handily than the Bucs (or than Wofford did), 76-69. They came within 3 of #113 Charleston, 74-77, within 5 of Southern Miss, 63-68 and within 7 at Wake Forest 64-71. They also lost at VMI (83-91), at Mercer (80-84), and at home to Chattanooga (62-73). Ask UNCG or Furman if these guys are a serious threat.

They play an 8 man rotation with only 1 senior (Marc Gosselin) and 3 freshmen (Gibson, Myers and Cottrell). 

They play a deliberate tempo, scoring only 70.0 a game. They defend the 3 well, allowing a best in SoCon .316. But they are vulnerable inside, allowing 57.2% from 2, 343rd in D1. Blocks (1.6 to 4.1 for ETSU) and steals (4.5 to 7.5 for ETSU) are low. 6-7 265 JUCO Jr. Carlos Dotson is a nimble-footed bull inside, with 9.7 rebounds and 13.3 ppg, but not a good defender, and makes a lot of turnovers (3.4). 

Turnover margin is a terrible -8.43, worst in SoCon by a mile (3rd worst is ETSU with -0.75). In fact, worst in D1!

Assists are a weak 12.4 per game, 267th in D1.

Three point shooting is similar to ETSU: .358 to .356, 8.9 makes to 8.3 makes. Free throw percentage is even worse: worst in SoCon .629 to a second worst in SoCon .670 for the Bucs.

But they rebound well – 3rd best in SoCon +4.7 margin, 59th in D1. ETSU is now at +13.1. 

Both teams had Thursday off. We’re hoping to see the Bucs take a step forward from their last couple outings and get rid of the sour taste from the UNCG game. A weak effort will leave us struggling to eke out a win like UNCG and Furman did against these guys. Kenpom favors the Bucs by 10, 74-64. 

Front Court:
#4 6-7 265 Jr. Carlos Dotson; 27.8 minutes, 13.3 ppg, no 3’s, .486 FT%, 9.7 rebounds, 0.5 blocks, 3.4 t.o.’s
#33 6-5 205 Jr. Onno Steger; 28.8 minutes, 10.3 ppg on .358 from 3 (1.9 makes), 4.6 rebounds, 2.4 t.o.’s
#12 6-7 205 Sr. Marc Gosselin; 21.4 minutes, 5.7 ppg on .242 from 3 (0.4 makes), 4.0 rebounds, 2.0 t.o.’s
#5 6-6 200 Fr. D.J. Myers; 19.4 minutes, 3.2 ppg, no 3’s, 3.3 rebounds, 2.0 t.o.’s
#44 6-8 220 Jr. Adam Sledd; 8.9 minutes, 2.2 ppg, no 3’s, 1.9 rebounds

Guards:
#14 6-3 180 Fr. Kameron Gibson; 28.9 minutes, 12.8 ppg on .408 from 3 (2.3 makes), 2.3 rebounds, 1.9 ast, 2.4 t.o.’s
#2 6-1 170 So. Mark Halvorsen; 33.3 minutes, 12.6 ppg on .362 from 3 (2.6 makes), 3.3 rebounds, 2.6 ast, 2.8 t.o.’s
#21 6-3 180 So. Marcus Thomas; 17.1 minutes, 6.1 ppg on .219 from 3 (0.4 makes), 2.6 rebounds, 1.9 t.o.’s
#15 6-2 185 Fr. Josh Cottrell; 14.2 minutes, 4.1 ppg on .433 from 3 (1.2 makes), 0.6 rebounds, 0.8 t.o.’s

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Opponent Preview for 1/19/19: UNCG

“We’re not a championship team right now,” said Steve Forbes after watching the Bucs struggle against VMI after blowing out to a 20 point lead. Well, UNCG hasn’t been playing like one either after struggling to get by Western Carolina on the road, being down by 6 points with 5:12 to play. One of those teams will have to stand up and play like one Saturday.

16-3 (7-2 in road games!) UNCG is ranked #115 by Kenpom (to #73 for ETSU), but gets more love in some midmajor polls (11th mid major in College Insider; ahead of ETSU’s 19th). Their schedule is not strong with only 2 high majors, both losses: on the road in a high scoring close one (91-97) at #38 LSU who they matched up with physically much better than Furman did, and on the road at #15 Kentucky, losing 61-78. Their toughest mid major opponent was #40 Wofford who crushed them in Greensboro 43-72, running out to a big early lead and never letting the Spartans in the game. Best wins were over #99 Furman in Greensboro 89-79; #126 Louisiana Tech at a neutral site 80-73; and over #137 Radford in Greensboro 65-58. They struggled mightily on the road at #320 VMI, pulling it out 71-68, but the Bucs struggled just as badly against the Keydets at home last night. Meanwhile UNCG was barely pulling out a road win at Western Carolina.

The Spartans matched up well with the Bucs last year, splitting the regular season and beating us soundly in the tournament.

UNCG’s tempo is faster than last year scoring 4.7 more points and allowing 4.2 more for a similar scoring margin: 11.4 this year to 10.7 last. ETSU has a scoring margin of 14.5. 

Turnover margin this year is an excellent 3rd in D1 +6.2 (only +1.3 last year), as they average 8.6 steals per game now, and make only 11.2 turnovers, 29th in D1. Bucs are a weak -0.63 in turnover margin, next to last in the SoCon and 233rd in D1. The Bucs make 15.3 turnovers a game, 303rd in D1.

The Spartans’ rebounding margin is -0.3, much worse than last year’s excellent +6.8. Big advantage to the Bucs’ 14.4 – IF Jeromy Rodriguez is healthy. That’s uncertain after he started the game with a knee brace and sat out much of the second half against VMI. A rebound advantage on paper didn’t help us on the court against Illinois or Wofford. 

UNCG’s FG% defense is average (.433, 175th in D1) to the Bucs’ .407 (48th in D1). 3pt % defense is weak .352 (249th in D1) to the Bucs’ .328 (135th in D1). Both those figures improved greatly for the Spartans in the latter part of conference play last year. 

6 guys play 23 to 27 minutes: Alonso, Miller, Dickey, Galloway, Troy and Massey. 2 guys get 17 or 18: Rs-Fr Kaleb Hunter and Jr-Tr Eric Hamilton. 
Nobody else gets over 2.5 ppg or 1.8 rebounds

6-3 185 Sr Francis Alonso is much the same player stat-wise as last year – great shooter, clever around the basket, tireless off screens, quick to sell a flop. If Tray Boyd was frustrated at getting called for a foul after getting blatantly hooked by Dimitrijevic (most shameless SoCon hooker since Eric Garcia of Wofford), he’d better lace them up tight for this guy. Can’t let a bad call get to you.

6-0 180 So Isaiah Miller has made himself an all-conference player with 14.6 ppg. He is a bigger, stronger Josh Sharkey with unstoppable quickness and athleticism and ball hawking defense (2.7 steals) and has moved into the starting lineup. Still doesn’t have much of a 3 point game though (.314 with 0.6 makes)

6-0 187 Sr PG Demetrius Troy’s production mirrors his regular season stats of last year (7.5 ppg, 4.2 assists), a big step down from his tournament explosion, but very steady, leading a team that does not turn over the ball (11.2 t.o’s, 29th in D1).

Jr James Dickey missed 6 games to ‘lis franc’ injury at Kentucky. He’s a much less efficient offensive player this year, still with no 3 pt game and his 2 pt% down to .425 from .536. He carried them across the finish line against the Catamounts, though, getting all 8 of his points, 4 rebounds and a steal in the final come-from-behind run.

Jr Kyrin Galloway is getting almost 50% more minutes and almost twice the points, having found a fine 3 point game for the first time (.449 with 1.7 makes) while maintaining .650 from 2 with just as many makes. But he snags the same rebounds per game (4.2) in 7.4 more minutes. 
6-3 Malik Massey gets 9 more minutes for his chippy, physical play (22.9 minutes) this year, but has the same points per game (3.8) and a much worse FG%, .306 down from .467 than last year. Miller has taken the starting role.

The run of UNCG’s “Hamilton” has not gotten rave reviews so far. 6-9 230 Jr Wichita State transfer Eric Hamilton is a solid player with 18.1 minutes, 8.3 ppg and 4.8 rebounds. He gets 9 fewer minutes than Jody Kuiper and similar per game totals in points and rebounds in fewer minutes. But he has not yet been the possible all conference difference maker that some feared. I’d give this performance 3 stars out of 5 to date. 
Much sought after 6-9 255 Nigerian Fr Mohammed Abdulsalam (4 star recruit with offers from UT, Wichita, Providence and Georgia Tech) is not ready to do much yet with 1.1 ppg and 1.7 rebounds. Nor is his high school teammate Angelo Allegri with 2.7 ppg and 1.5 rebounds. 

Except for 6-6 swingman Marvin Smith (no one really takes his place, certainly not Allegri) and Jordy Kuiper (replaced partly by 18 minutes to Eric Hamilton and partly by 9 more minutes to Kyrin Galloway), this is much the same team that came on very strong halfway through conference last season to develop a crushing defense, rule the SoCon and beat ETSU in the tournament. Halfway through conference ETSU was 10-0 looking forward to a final 8 game stretch that seemed easier than the first 10, and UNCG was 7-2 with a loss to hapless Chattanooga. Yet the Bucs finished the Conference 4-4, while the Spartans finished 8-1 and ran the table in the tournament. The Spartans at 5-1 seem to be struggling a bit this year, better in some areas (terrific turnover margin) and worse in others (rebounding). But last year they really picked up the toughness and defense and improved their rebounding the last half of conference season. 

Last year shows that things don’t always end up the way they seem after early conference play. Both UNCG and ETSU enter this game trying to prove they can get back to a championship level. UNCG is 7-2 in road games. Kenpom predicts the homestanding Bucs to win 70-64. If Jeromy is out, or operating at a low level, it’s hard to favor the Bucs. 

Guards:
#10 6-3 185 Sr Francis Alonso; 27.6 minutes, 17.8 ppg on .376 from 3 (2.8 makes), .899 FT%, 2.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.4 t.o.’s, 1.0 steals
#01 6-0 180 So Isaiah Miller; 26.1 minutes, 14.6 ppg on .306 from 3 (0.6 makes), 4.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.4 t.o.’s, 2.6 steals, 
#11 6-0 187 Sr Demetrius Troy; 27.7 minutes, 7.5 ppg on .305 from 3 (1.0 makes), 2.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.6 t.o.’s, 1.3 steals
#44 6-4 190 Rs-Fr Kaleb Hunter; 17.5 minutes, 6.6 ppg on .370 from 3 (0.6 makes) but .607 from 2 (2.1 makes), 2.5 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.7 t.o.’s, 0.7 steals
#02 6-3 185 Jr Malik Massey; 22.9 minutes, 3.7 ppg, on .273 from 3 (0.7 makes) and .346 from 2 (0.5 makes), 2.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.9 t.o.’s, 0.7 steals

Front Court:
#21 6-9 190 Jr James Dickey; 13 games, 23.5 minutes, 6.9 ppg on .167 from 3 (0.1 makes) and .450 from 2, down from .536; .429 FT%, 7.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 2.0 t.o.’s, 1.3 steals, 2.0 blocks
#14 6-8 215 Jr Kyrin Galloway; 26.7 minutes, 10.0 ppg on .449 from 3 (1.7 makes), 4.1 rebounds, 0.2 assists, 0.7 t.o.’s, 0.9 blocks
#35 6-9 225 Jr Eric Hamilton; 18.1 minutes, 8.3 ppg, no 3’s, .667 from 2, 4.8 rebounds, 0.1 assists, 1.1 t.o.’s, 0. 6 blocks
#13 6-7 205 Fr Angelo Allegri; 9.8 minutes, 2.7 ppg on .257 from 3 (0.5 makes), 1.5 rebounds
#04 6-7 255 Fr Mohammed Abdulsalam; 7.0 minutes, 1.1 ppg, no 3’s, 1.7 rebounds, 0.1 blocks

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Opponent Preview for 1/17/19: VMI

ETSU will face VMI (6-11) on Thursday in Freedom Hall. The 6-11 Keydets are ranked 329th by Kenpom. They have 3 wins over D1 opposition and no wins in the Socon. Their D1 wins include #319 USC Upstate (home), # 341 Stetson in OT (away) and #320 North Alabama (home) by 21 points 89-68. Stetson is the only road win. Perhaps their best game was coming within 3 of UNC Greensboro at home, 68-71, a game in which Dickey was working his way back into the lineup (9 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals in 21 minutes). VMI led by 8 at the half and kept it close all the way. Sounds a little like Mercer against us. 

Six guys get 20 to 33 minutes: 5-11 155 Bubba Parham (the top scorer in the SoCon with 20.2 ppg, shooting .393 from 3), 6-4 200 Garrett Gilkeson (a tough physical Junior who has really improved his shooting from .359 FG% to .477 and has now got a 3 point shot; 10.7 ppg and 6.2 rebounds), 6-3 170 Sarju Patel, 6-5 181 Miles Lewis, and 6-10 245 Jr Tyler Creammer (20 minutes, 6.2 ppg, 6.5 rebounds). A seventh, 6-8 230 Fr Jake Stephens, gets 6.8 ppg and 3.5 rebounds in 16 minutes. Nobody else gets more than 2.7 ppg or 1.7 rebounds. 

They shoot 3’s well, at .344 with 9.7 makes (35th most makes in D1) to ETSU’s .359 with 8.5 makes. But their overall FG% is a low .419. Their FT% of 74.5 is 50th in D1 to the Bucs .680. They turn the ball over less than ETSU: 13.4 per game to 15.4 with both teams having a turnover margin of about -0.6. Considering their record, it is a little surprising to see that they have only a -4.1 scoring margin. They keep things fairly close. Rebounding margin is -2.8. Not so bad, in other words, that they can’t rise up and steal a game if you play like UNCG did. Or like the Bucs in the first half against Mercer. 

Kenpom has the Bucs favored by 22 at home. The Bucs don’t want to come out like they did against Mercer, “like prima donna’s” as Forbes said at the half, or they will find themselves sweating this one out, too. They need to be making strides toward the team they want to be. Get back to the killer instinct they showed against The Citadel.

Guards:
#03 5-11 155 So Bubba Parham; 33.4 minutes, 20.2 ppg, .409 FG%, .393 from 3 (3.4 makes), 3.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 3.0 t.o.’s, 
#02 6-4 200 Jr Garrett Gilkeson; 32.4 minutes, 10.7 ppg, .421 from 3 (1.4 makes), 6.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.8 t.o.’s, 1.7 steals 
#05 6-4 160 So Greg Parham; 29.6 minutes, 8.6 ppg, .314 from 3 (1.3 makes), 2.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.4 t.o.’s, 1.3 steals
#31 6-3 170 So Sarju Patel; 25.7 minutes, 9.2 ppg, .308 from 3 (1.4 makes), 3.1 rebounds
#12 6-0 173 So Ta’Vonne Bond; 12.2 minutes, 1.7 ppg, almost no 3’s, 1.2 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 1.0 t.o.’s, 0.8 steals

Front Court:
#15 6-5 181 So Miles Lewis; 23.5 minutes, 9.0 ppg, almost no 3’s, 4.9 rebounds, 0.9 steals
#25 6-10 245 Jr Tyler Creammer; 20.4 minutes, 6.2 ppg, almost no 3’s, 6.5 rebounds, 1.3 t.o.’s
#34 6-8 230 Fr Jake Stephens; 16.5 minutes, 6.8 ppg, .375 from 3 (1.2 makes), 3.5 rebounds
#21 6-7 205 Fr Connor Arnold; 7.5 minutes, 2.7 ppg almost all from 3, .375 from 3 (0.8 makes), 0.9 rebounds

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Opponent Preview for 1/12/19: Mercer

On Saturday, January 12th the Bucs take on the Mercer Bears in Macon who are coming off their first conference victory, an 84-80 win over Western Carolina.

Bob Hoffman has spent the year trying to answer this question: “How do you win basketball games with a team whose 6 best players are 6-4 and under, with one guy 6-7 205. But which doesn’t shoot 3’s very well and is not super athletic?” With a record of 6-10 he hasn’t found a good answer. But in going with “small ball” he’s built a team that is disciplined, doesn’t quit, and has made a habit of falling behind by double digits, but coming back to make it close at the end, doing this against Georgia State (60-62), Harvard (67-71), and NC State (74-78) among others. They are generally closer at the end than they are supposed to be, within a 3 pointer or 2 of pulling off the upset. 

With a 183 rating by Kenpom, Mercer is a better team than most of those that we have played. They are 6-1 at home in Macon, with the only loss coming to Georgia Southern. Best win is probably over 6-11 UNC Wilmington, at home as are all their wins. The Bucs are favored, but only by 4 points (69-65) according to Kenpom. 

6 guys get 20 minutes or more, and it’s “small ball” all the way (6-3 Cummings, 6-4 Stowe, 6-4 Cohen, 6-4 Stair, 6-2 Dimitrijevic, and 6-7 205 Cory Kilby). 6-11 245 Freshman Fardaws Aimaq gets 14 minutes, 5.6 ppg and 5.0 rebounds. Nobody else over 9.4 minutes or with much production. Despite their size, they are not terrible rebounders (more or less breaking even at -0.5, around 194th in D1, middle of the SoCon), and are not very good 3 point shooters with .332 (230th in D1, the worst in the SoCon) and only 7.3 makes (218th in D1, worst in the SoCon). They take care of the ball and turnover margin is a good +2.1, better than the Bucs -0.9. 

Ross Cummings is a fine shooter (31 minutes with 16.2 ppg on .424 with 3.3 makes from 3), but doesn’t do much else very well (2.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 2.4 turnovers, 0.7 steals). Ethan Stair is the other 3 point threat shooting .379 with 1.4 makes. Dimitrijevic (.250 with 0.9 makes) and Peavy (.625 but only 0.7 makes) are the next best. 6-4 Stair (10.3 ppg and 5.1 rebounds) and 6-4 Jaylen Stowe (10.6 ppg and 5.6 rebounds) are having fine Senior seasons. At 6-4 220 Stowe is the most physical player they have, the only player besides 14 minute per game Aimaq who is over 205.

At the point 6-4 Sophomore Marcus Cohen can penetrate but doesn’t score well (6.1 ppg, no 3’s, 3.4 assists). 6-2 JUCO Jr Djordje Dimitrijevic will try the 3 but only hits .250 with 0.9 makes. He’s a clever scorer averaging 11.9 ppg with 2.7 assists. 

The Bucs need to go at it with the kind of purpose that they brought to the Citadel. Stay focused and keep the foot on the gas or these guys WILL come back and could make you pay. One of these games when they are 2 or 3 down at the end, they will make the big last shot. Don’t let that be against the Bucs.

Bucs are improving and need to keep it up. This team can be special, but there is work to be done. 

As Forbes has said of some of his players: “We don’t want them to be good. We want them to be great.”

Guards:
#20 6-3 180 Jr. Ross Cummings; 31.2 minutes, 16.2 ppg on .424 from 3 with 3.3 makes, 2.6 rebounds 1.6 assists, 2.4 turnovers, 0.7 stls
#00 6-2 180 JUCO Jr. Djordje Dimitrijevic; 24.5 minutes, 11.9 ppg on .250 from 3 with 0.9 makes, 2.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.0 turnovers 
#22 6-4 205 Sr. Ethan Stair; 32.1 minutes, 10.3 ppg on .379 from 3 with 1.4 makes, 5.1 rpg, 1.8 steals 
#03 6-4 190 So. Marcus Cohen; 22.1 minutes, 6.1 ppg, no 3’s, 1.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 2.1 turnovers, 1.1 steals
#05 6-3 185 Fr. DJ Peavy; 9.4 minutes, 3.8 ppg, .624 from 3 with 0.7 makes

Front Court:
#01 6-7 205 Sr. Cory Kilby; 23.4 minutes, 6.2 ppg, 3.6 rebounds
#02 6-4 220 Sr. Jaylen Stowe; 28.9 minutes, 10.6 ppg, only 5 three’s all year on .208, 5.6 rebounds 1.3 steals
#11 6-11 245 Fr. Fardaws Aimaq; 14.4 minutes, 5.6 ppg, only 1 three all year, 5.0 rebounds, 0.7 blocks 
#55 6-10 215 So. Victor Baffuto; 7.7 minutes, 2.5 ppg, 0 three’s, 1.5 rebounds, 0.7 blocks

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Opponent Preview for 1/10/19: The Citadel

On Thursday, January 10th the Bucs take on the Citadel Bulldogs, who is now 9-5 and ranked 204th in Kenpom. They had a brilliant 9-2 start with their only losses coming on the road to Clemson and Texas, and which included road wins over #240 JMU and #154 South Florida. But they are coming off a 3 game losing streak which started with a bad home loss to #247 Longwood, 94-110, and continued with 2 expected road losses to #54 Wofford and #112 Furman. 

Citadel hopes to get back on track at home against the Bucs: they are still 6-1 at home with Longwood being the only loss. Best home wins have been over #175 Mercer 79-69 and #233 High Point 112-87 – the home schedule has not been strong. 

John Hooper’s article, is a fair summary of the strong points of Citadel, discussing shooting guard 6-2 160 Sr Matt Frierson (ranked 2nd now nationally in made 3’s per game with 4.50 for 15.6 ppg), leading ‘big’ man 6-7 220 Sr Zane Najdawi, a native Jordanian now from Midlothian, VA, who plays a great all around game with 13.9 ppg, 7.4 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and a steal, and the big addition, 5th year Senior point guard 6-1 200 Gr-Tr Lew Stallworth who has exceeded every expectation, ranking 11th nationally in assists with 6.7, with 18.0 ppg and 6.9 rpg. He’s an upgrade in every way over the departed Frankie Johnson.

But note that all of these key players graduate this year. If they don’t make a mark this year, Baucom will be trying to reload next year. 

As usual they play super up tempo, leading the nation in points per game with 96.8, but allowing the second most points with 86.9. Turnovers are -1.5. They lead the country making 13.8 three’s per game, hitting .367. 

They have neither length nor muscle up front: Najdawi is the big man at 6-7 220, backed up by 2 6-6 guys, 6-6 185 Kaiden Rice and 6-6 215 Hayden Brown. They get outrebounded by -1.9. The advantage to the Bucs here is pretty obvious. But they were just as small last year and upset several of the top SoCon teams including ETSU and Furman.

Kenpom expects a close game with ETSU favored by only 5 points, 85-80. This is a better Citadel team than the one that beat us last year. Don’t overlook them and continue to improve. 

Guards:
#13 6-1 200 Gr-Tr Lew Stallworth; 31.1 minutes, 18.0 ppg on .308 from 3 (8 makes all year), 5.9 rebounds, 6.7 assists, 3.1 t.o.’s, 1.0 steals
#03 6-2 160 Sr Matt Frierson; 31.0 minutes, 15.6 ppg on .438 from 3 (3.9 makes per game), 1.2 steals
#12 6-4 190 Gr-Tr Connor Kern; 23.3 minutes, 8.4 ppg on .404 from 3 (1.5 makes)
#02 5-11 170 Sr Quayson Williams; 13.1 minutes, 4.7 ppg on .259 from 3
#23 6-4 220 Jr Kaelon Harris; 15.5 minutes, 4.4 ppg on .211 from 3 (4 all year), 4.6 rebounds 

Front Court:
#34 6-7 220 Sr Zane Najdawi; 27.0 minutes, 13.9 ppg on .300 from 3 (0.7 makes), 7.4 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, 1.0 steals
#11 6-6 185 So Kaiden Rice; 19.5 minutes, 13.1 ppg on .387 from 3 (3.1 makes), 2.9 rebounds 
#25 6-5 210 So Alex Reed; 18.9 minutes, 8.6 ppg on .378 from 3 (1.0 makes), 3.6 rebounds
#33 6-6 215 So Hayden Brown; (only 6 games) 13.7 minutes 7.0 ppg on .250 from 3 (2 makes all year), 3.8 rebounds

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