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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