It’s only two games into the season, but let’s breakdown some stats…
Those first couple of games were completely different in terms of scoring mainly because of our shooting. In the first game the Red Raiders were red hot from the field hitting 61.1% of our shots (33-54). That is a great shooting night for a team, and the surprise was seeing Keenan Evans explode for 28 points hitting 9-12 of his shots while being a perfect 5-5 from downtown. The mystery surrounding the team in the offseason was the losing our outside shooting threats and who was going to step in to make the three-pointers. Our team went 10-17 from beyond the arc, and Anthony Livingston went 3-4. Chris Beard knew it was an excellent shooting effort for the game. Here is what he had to say after the win against Houston Baptist.
“I remember early on in my relationship with Keenan – just having a conversation with him one time – ‘I said, hey Keenan, don’t afraid to be great.’ A lot of times the enemy of great is good and up to this point I think he’s had a good career,” Beard said. “I think he’s got it in him where he can be great. Tonight was a special night because he’s making shots. He has a chance to be a really great player so I was happy for Keenan. He’s put in a lot of time, and it was nice to see him have the results tonight.”
“I think I was pleased with a nice balance tonight – five guys in double figures,” Beard said. “Everybody contributed in the game. Some of our players that haven’t played in a while got on the court and got real minutes. I think it was a good win. It’s a team [HBU] that I have a lot of respect for. Houston Baptist will end up having a good season. They’re well coached, and they have good players. I think we’ve got 12 guys that are enjoying playing the game. I always want our players to have fun playing the game. Things we need to work on like everybody: too many turnovers and too many fouls. We’ve just got to continue to get better.”
While I didn’t expect Evans to be as dominate on the offensive side of the ball shooting 100% from the outside every game, after the first game I had placed Evans, Livingston, and Ross as our three-point threats. How crazy is that? Two frontcourt guys are some of the best downtown shooters on the team.
Then we rolled into the game against UNT. While we looked sloppy shooting the ball, I brushed it off as being early season rust and that it will get better as the season goes along. We made 43.1% of our shots (28-65), hitting only 30% from the outside (6-20). Evans struggled mightily hitting only one shot, and missing his two attempts from three-point land. Livingston only hit one of his four shots from downtown. Yet, Ross was the lone bright spot from beyond the arc hitting 3-5 (60%).
Coach Beard also immediately recognized that it was a poor shooting night for our guys. Here was a quote from him on that.
“We tell the guys all the time there are different ways to win games. Your defense has to be there on a night when shots are not falling. I think tonight might be one of the classic examples of my career. We didn’t really shoot it very well from two, we didn’t really shoot it very well from three and we really struggled from the free throw line. But, we find ourselves at a double digit lead at halftime in a game that was in control because of our defense. So, certainly when we get in to conference play, we’re going to have to execute on both ends of the court.”
The conclusion here is that while we have guys that can get the ball in the bucket like Zach Smith and Justin Gray, we may have our only legitimate consistent outside shooters as our frontcourt starters in Livingston and Ross. That is kind of cool and all, but we need a guard to step up and show us that they can hit the clutch shots. Evans did it in the first game. Will he be the guard we come to rely on to drop in the long range trey, or will somebody else step in as the season goes along? It’s too early in the season to tell, but something to keep an eye on for the next few weeks. Wreck ’em Tech!!!