That was not the way I expected that game to go. St. Francis showed a lot of determination out there, and I was really impressed by Ricky Cadell who did everything he could yesterday to bring home a win. With most basketball games, I usually just go with three positives and three negatives and today is no different. So let's get to the positives:
1. Shooting Guard Play. We worried about who would step up to replace Dominique Jones in the score sheet, and it looks like we have a couple of guys who can pick up the slack. JAWANZA Poland and Shaun Noriega each had an exceptional game on offense yesterday, scoring 15 points apiece. Shaun went an impressive 4-6 from behing the arc, while Poland looked at his best taking it to the hoop and finishing above the rim. Jawanza also chipped in with a team high 5 assists, 2 blocks, and 2 steals. Toro's thinks Poland is Marlyn Bryant but with a jump shot, and I couldn't agree more. His steal and dunk to end the half was a thing of beauty, and The Polish Hammer is quickly becoming one of my favorite players on the team.
3. Three-Point Shooting. We all know that one of the main struggles last season was three-point shooting. The Bulls ended the season under 30% from deep, and Coach Heath talked about improving that statistic this season. So far, it looks to be improving. The team averaged just below 40% from deep yesterday which is fantastic compared to last year. As we saw with St. Francis last night, you can stay close to a superior team if you can hit the three ball.
After the break we get into the three negatives
1. Point Guard Play. This is something that has worried everyone this year, and right now its the team's biggest weakness. Anthony Crater did not make a number of correct decisions, including a couple of easy entry passes to our posts. I know this might be early season jitters, but it might come to the point where we have to give Shedrick Haynes or LaVonte Dority some extended minutes in a couple of games to see what they can do. Also, the fact that Crater did not want to guard Ricky Cadell in the 2nd half is telling. Hopefully it gets better sooner than later.
2. 2-3 Zone. The team did very well in the 2-3 zone vs. Southern Miss Friday, but a good three point shooting team will thrash a zone to pieces, and the Terriers did so yesterday. SFC went an insane 59% from deep, and there were a lot of open looks for Cadell, Akeem Bennett, and Stefan Perunicic due to missed or late rotations. Sometimes you have to shelve the zone when teams are shooting lights out.
3. Lack of Killer Instinct. Last season, when the Bulls faced teams like St. Francis or any of the cupcakes on the schedule, Dominique Jones and the rest of the team stepped on the collective throat and kept the opponent on the floor. Two games in a row now, the Bulls have held significant leads and let them get back in the game due to a lack of intensity on both sides of the floor. This will need to improve if the Bulls have any chance of continuing last year's success.