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Friday, November 15, 2013

Friday Night in Provo

If you're a Mountaineer fan, I know what you're thinking. At least, I think I know what you're thinking.

Because this road trip to BYU is sort of a scary predicament for the Mount. Just two nights after allowing Villanova to score 90 points in a dunkfest, the Mounties take on the Cougars who just rolled up 112 on late Monday evening in Northern California versus Stanford.

So the question that is on everyone's mind, is "How is the Mount going to slow down BYU?". Truth is, I'm not sure. And for that matter not sure they can. BYU is a seriously good team that is going to seriously test the Mountaineer defense.

So which defense will we see, the gambling one that was constantly beaten for layups and dunks in Philadelphia or the one that slowed West Virginia a week ago, by keeping the ball in front of them only to see WVU shoot the lights out over top the defense. BYU has the capabilities to do either, so its not an easy choice for Jamion Christian on how he wants to play it.

My guess is the Mountaineers are going to press. Because that's what they do. However, I do think you'll see a little more conservative pressure, especially to start. The game plan against Villanova, to try to turn the Wildcats over again and again, might not have been a bad idea. Villanova struggled early against the pressure, and came in as a team vulnerable to the pressure. But once Villanova added another guard on the floor, and took away the Mount's offense, the defensive gameplan was undone.

So tonight begins a stretch of what I think are three very important games for the Mount. Following the foray west, the Mount plays at UMBC and UMES, that's Maryland-Baltimore County and Maryland Eastern Shore. Those two games seemed very winnable a week ago. And they remain winnable.

UMBC's lone win is of the overtime variety over Eastern University. A game the Division III school's website refers to as an exhibition. Eastern Shore pounded neighboring Division III Salisbury State for it's only win. kenpom.com rates the Hawks 346 out of 350 Nationally.

So those games are certainly potential road wins for the Mount. However, the Mount can't limp into those games. That is why a strong showing at BYU is so important tonight. The defense was atrocious in Philadelphia, but even more concerning was the lack of offense. The Mount managed just .82 points per possession while shooting just 30% from the field.

That has to change and it has to change in a hurry. Seniors Rashad Whack and Sam Prescott have struggled in the first two games. The two have combined to average just 17 points combined through the first two games and both have shooting percentages that look more like batting averages.

We've seen Whack and Prescott produce in the past. We expect them to produce again. There were some glimpses during the second half the other night. But they need to be consistent, and they need to start soon.

Tonight works just fine for me.

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