So we don’t have enough time this week to keep up with most of what’s happening in Carolina hoops, as the intersection of real life and holidays rears its ugly head in what is an incredibly busy week for Carolina sports.
That said, we’ll try to briefly touch on what happened against Morgan State, and what we think might happen against Rider.
Morgan State Thoughts
Coach Martin nailed it on the head – just not a good effort from the team, and yet, they won going away, which has to be considered a positive, given the fact they were playing with Carrera.
Both teams shot over 50% from the field, and neither particularly separated itself based on 2PAs. There was a small difference that came from Carolina taking (and making) more 3PAs – the Gamecocks were 6/16, the Bears 2/13. The biggest difference came from the foul line, though. The Gamecocks got there 6 more times and made 8 more shots (21-26, compared to 13-20). Turnovers were about the same (Carolina was slightly worse, turning it over on 25.2% of possessions, while forcing turnovers on 24.8%, a difference consisting entirely of Carolina having two fewer possessions).
Again, Carolina came up big on the glass, and though Martin didn’t admit it in the press conference, he has to be happy that Carolina grabbed 50% of its misses (and 80% of Morgan State’s, to boot). That resulted in four extra FGAs and 6 more FTAs, which will decide a lot of games.
Individually, LaShay Page filled up the box score with 20 points, 5 boards, 2 steals and 1 assist. Brenton Williams and Eric Smith did a good job of using possessions while on the floor, and did so reasonably efficiently (collecting 14 and 17 points, respectively).
The defense has to get better, but the offensive improvement thus far – even if not done in the way Martin wants – is a hopeful sign.
Rider comes into this game 2-1, with a blowout win over a sneaky good Robert Morris team, and splitting two close games between Stony Brook (an 8 point loss) and Monmouth (a 3 point win).
Thus far, St. John’s transfer and junior guard Nurideen Lindsey has been taking most of the shots for Rider, and has been doing so while hitting them at an impressive rate (eFG of 65.0%). You have to think that will slowly move back toward his historical rate of 46.2% from last season, but we shall see. Defending him will be a first priority.
Thus far at least, Rider has been very susceptible to turning the ball over, coming in at an alarming 27.8% turnover rate. They’ve also failed to hit the offensive glass particularly hard, and simply haven’t been very efficient on offense (though again, it’s early). That said, both these traits match up with who Rider was last season, so they may well indicate the type of team we’re facing. Last year, they made up for it by shooting the ball well from the field and getting to the line, two things they haven’t done well this year, at least not yet. Again, small sample size warnings apply.
On defense, Rider has shown marked improvement in its numbers under first-year coach Kevin Baggett. However, it’s tough to say whether this is a mark of schedule or actual improvement, and I hate to try to draw too much from it. One item of note is that they do foul quite a bit (or, again, have thus far), and if that keeps up, Carolina could decide this game from the line, where they’ve lived thus far this season.
KenPom 69-62 (74%) [67 possession]
TeamRankings 72-65 (75%)
Vegas Gamecocks -7
We’ll slightly buck the experts – give me Carolina going away at the end from the free throw line and winning by 11.