Just a couple notes through the two exhibition games and the first game of the year.
Considering the opponents have been a Division III team, a Division II team, and the worst Division I team last year, there has not been enough to judge them on, so I will just make a couple observations heading into the opening home game.
When Morgan State comes into Draddy Gym the Jaspers will face their first true test. Morgan State is the preseason favorite in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. They received 15 first place votes in the coaches' poll. So take everything with a grain of salt up until this point. Now onto the observations:
There is a big difference between when Chris Smith is on the floor and when he is not.
Smith was the best player on the court in the first exhibition game against Baruch, sat out the second exhibition game against Pace because of a wrist injury, and was the leading scorer the first regular season game against New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Notice that I said he was the leading scorer against NJIT, not the best player on the court. After playing within the offense against Baruch and shooting extremely well the first half against NJIT he seemed to be looking for his shot too much. He did not shoot well from behind the arc (1-5).
All things considered he still finished with 16 points, six rebounds, three assists, and two steals. So far he has been the biggest playmaker and when he is not out there at times the offense lacks an aggressive scorer. If Smith continues to be that playmaker and plays within the offense expect him to be playing 30+ minutes a game for the rest of the year.
Patrick Bouli will play a big part of the team at the point guard position this year.
Bouli so far has this year has been the best ball handler on the team. In the preseason games he had eight assists and only one turnover. His assist-to-turnover ratio last year was the best on the team, but he looks even better controlling the ball this year.
He is moving the ball up the court and making smart decisions. Bouli may not be a scoring point guard, but he plays the position effectively.
In the game against NJIT he had only one turnover while playing 28 minutes. Bouli also had seven rebounds in the game. He has started all three games so far. It will be hard to keep him off the court if he keeps his play up. Bringing me to my next observation.
Antoine Pearson and Coach Rohrssen have to work out their issues for this team to be successful.
Coach Rohrssen is obviously trying to make a point to Pearson so far. Pearson didn't dress the Pace game, and has not started either of the next two. He only logged seven minutes against NJIT.
This is the returning leading scorer for the Jaspers and a preseason All-MAAC second team pick. He is one of the best players on the team and they may have been able to win against weaker competition, but to be successful this year they do need him to play a bigger role on the team.
The team seems to have made a commitment to play defense. Coach Rohrssen said here that was a big step the team needed to take this year.
The Jaspers only allowed 100 points in the first two games combined. Baruch shot 21%, Pace 30%, and NJIT 23%. The Jaspers held NJIT to only 32 points total. They are playing better perimeter defense and are forcing turnovers.
There will need to be an improvement in the defense in the post once they start playing teams with bigger and more athletic guys, but up until this point there are no complaints.
They will not have a serious shot blocking presence, but we already knew that. The only problem so far with the Jaspers defense has been the transition defense which at times, especially against Pace was bad. They need to pick up the men better in transition and get back quicker.
Banogle will be a presence on the boards this year.
Banogle has been the leading rebounder in two of the three games so far. He finished with 10 rebounds against NJIT.
The Jaspers as a team has out-rebounded their opponents by a whopping margin of 67. As previously mentioned though, once the Jaspers start playing the bigger teams we will truly see what they are made of underneath. So far Banogle has been a pleasant surprise.
The three-point shooting is at best inconsistent.
Not including the second half against Baruch when they shot 9-10 from behind the arc, they have shot 17-58 for 29%, from three-point range this year. Devon Austin has been having an especially tough time shooting 5-20. The whole team needs to improve in this to give them a shot at opening up the floor.
Hopefully the team can make the improvements they need for Wednesday against Morgan State. Tip-off is at 7 pm.