Coming off a fairly comfortable, if not pretty, win against Mary Hardin-Baylor, the SHSU Bearkats will look to iron some things out in game number two.
This time they will take on the Northwestern Oklahoma State University Rangers.
This game is not all that dissimilar from the first one. The Rangers are an NAIA team, but they are a solid squad. Two seasons ago, they qualified for the NAIA basketball championship. Last season, they took a step back and finished 11-18, but they return all but two players from that team.
The Rangers are off to a 3-0 start and are averaging outscoring their opponents by nearly 20 points.
They are led by guard Marshall Bell and forwards Orren Tims and Jonathan Freemyer. Those three are averaging 15.5, 19.0 and 14.5 points per game, respectively.
They look to run an offense very much like the one the Bearkats run. They are undersized in the frontcourt and will take a lot of three-point shots. The Rangers have attempted 237 field goals as a team.
Three-point shots have accounted for 98 of them. It's not just volume, though. They shoot it well from distance as they have made 38.8 percent of their three-point shots.
For the Bearkats, you want to see an effort similar to the one they gave Saturday night. You would just like to see a cleaner version of it.
The Bearkats proved that they were the bigger, faster and stronger team. They turned the ball over 20 times, shot 50 percent from the free-throw line and still managed to have a rather large margin of victory.
That type of play is not going to fly for long. I'd look for a much focused, disciplined game out of the Bearkats on Monday night.
For starters, they've got to shoot the ball better. Some of the poor shooting was caused by the aggressive defensive play of UMHB, but there was also a lot of impatience on offense that led to some bad shot-selection.
Improvement there begins with the point guards. Drae Murray and Marcus Williams combined to make two shots out of 14 attempts. I enjoyed seeing Williams drive into the lane on Saturday, but he either needs to finish more of those drives or kick the ball back out.
Too often, he was forced to throw up a circus shot at the end of a drive. In the opener, that led to a lot of free throws, but you can't always expect the officials to bail you out.
If the Bearkats are going to be successful not just in this next game, but for the season, Gilberto Clavell has to do a better job of staying on the floor.
His early foul troubles not only kept him off the floor way to long on Saturday night, but his lack of court time also kept him from really getting into any kind of rhythm until late in the second half.
Teams are going to target him and they are going to come right at him hoping he commits fouls out of over-aggression. NWOSU is not going to be any exception.
I'm expected to see a different Bearkat team on the court Monday night. After knocking off rust Saturday and getting their legs under them, they will look to round into shape on Monday.
Thanks to a much-improved shooting performance and the signature swarming Bearkat defense, SHSU rolls to an easy victory.
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