The Huskies Men’s Basketball team started their regular season with a 73-55 win over the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers last night.
After watching the game, the Huskies are starting to reveal some strengths and weaknesses even though it is still early.
Here are a few quick observations about the team…..
Get Off To A Fast Start
It is imperative that the Huskies find a way to come out to a fast start from the opening tipoff, and not wait until the second half. Last night, the Huskies had the luxury of playing in front of the home crowd at Alaska Airlines Arena and that should be enough to get going early. The Huskies are a team that thrives off of energy and intensity, and digging a hole early will prove to be too much to overcome against good teams. With a veteran roster full of starters, it’s up to them to set the tone early, stay focused and provide leadership each game.
Knock Down Three Point Shots
With only one classified “pure shooter” on the roster in senior forward Dominic Green, it is crucial for the Huskies to knock down their three-point shots on a consistent basis. Last night, the Huskies finished 5 for 25 shooting the three ball at a percentage of 20%. During the first half the Huskies were 2 for 18 from behind the arc with a percentage of 11.1%. Opposing teams will continue to “pack the paint” and force the Huskies to shoot from the outside until they can prove their ability to make shots. Without the threat of the three ball, it will be tough sledding for the Husky “bigs” to score inside.
Consistent Bench Production
One issue that the Huskies had last season was getting consistent production from the bench. Head coach Mike Hopkins will need some players he can rely upon from the bench on a nightly basis. Last night, the Huskies only got a combined 12 points from the bench, while finishing with 73 points total as a team. Senior forward Noah Dickerson was in foul trouble early last night and in those instances, somebody from the bench has to come in and pick up the slack with scoring, rebounding, etc. The starters will not be able to get it done every single night and you are only as good as your bench!
Another Player Who Can Play With His Back To The Basket
When looking at how the Huskies roster is set up, realistically the only player who can score with his back to the basket right now is Dickerson. The hope is that by January, one of the talented newcomers will emerge as a second scoring threat inside. Maybe someone like Bryan Penn-Johnson can help out once he gets used to the speed of the game at the collegiate level. Right now, with only one viable scoring threat inside, opposing defenses will double team Dickerson until someone can emerge on the opposite block and at least threaten to score regularly.
Limit Second Chance Opportunities For Opponents
Pounding the defensive glass has never been a strength for the Huskies since Hopkins took over and installed the 2-3 zone. Often times, players are out of position and not able to affectively rebound the basketball. Last night, Western Kentucky got a lot of second chance opportunities and throughout the course of the game it can tire out your defense. It shuts down your transition game and slows down the pace of the game because opposing teams keep gaining more possessions. The Huskies like to play at a faster tempo with their athleticism and speed and finding a way to get stops is critical.