Last night's 60-58 loss to St. Bonaventure might not have been the prettiest basketball, but just like Saturday's overtime win against Canisius, the Bulls had a chance to win late despite plenty of mistakes. Our takeaways:
1. Free Throw Shooting
Well, we lost this game because of free throws even though there were many other unacceptable things. 59% from the charity stripe just isn't ever going to be enough when you have the NCAA's new foul crazy rules. The fact that we had 32 attempts from the free throw line and we didn't capitalize on that is tough to stomach.
2. `#LoneWolfBasketball strikes again
The most brutal thing to watch in this game was the complete lack of ball movement. I thought I was watching the Old Dominion game at points because nobody was passing the ball. Lamonte Bearden, our starting point guard, should be dishing out a lot more assists than one. When a guy like Wigginton (who has a much different role) has more assists, something is wrong. I'm not blaming just Bearden though; everyone on this team would rather hang onto the ball and take a terrible shot. Rodell and Blake seemed to be the only ones trying to get things going around the court and it just so happened that they had decent nights.
3. I want more Ikenna
Ikenna Smart has done an amazing job at improving this year. How many fouls did you think he had this time around? It's crazy but he only had one foul. He almost matched the amount of rebounds that Wigginton had in eleven minutes less. We were substantially worse in my opinion when Smart wasn't on the floor. He was barely there at the end of the game. Even though the offensive numbers weren't there (despite having better free throw shooting than the majority of the team), Ikenna's defense made up for it. Give me more Smart, especially when Perkins is playing like he was. Don't stick Wigginton in the post and end up with a 3-4 inch height disadvantage.
1. Streakiness of Jarryn Skeete
I know that I've said it before, but I really am not the biggest fan of Skeete. I know its hard to argue that considering he was the reason of sending the Canisius game into overtime and eventually winning, but his performance this past game was abysmal. Playing 24 minutes and not scoring a single point when you're a senior and a leader of the team is not acceptable to me. Also, I hate the fact that he is our 3 point specialist and has such a streaky characteristic to him. I guess thats pretty negative, so I will say I appreciate the increase of versatility in his game play through the season thus far. His driving through the lane and cutting to the basket seems to have improved eve if that didn't translate to the score sheet on Tuesday.
2. Game play catching up to us
With a fast pace style of play and a lack of running a traditional half court offense comes the risk of having more turnovers. We saw this catch up to us against the Bonnies more so than any other game this season. 21 turnovers to only 6 assists is extreme. Bearden hasn't seen the same success in assists to turnover ratio compared to last season, and maybe this is due to the departure of Shannon Evans. The Bulls need to figure out a happy medium between running a fast and aggressive offense but also taking care of the basketball and distributing it efficiently. As long as they figure it out before MAC play we should be in OK shape.
Player of the Game: Wigginton
It would be a travesty to pick anyone else. Looking at the stat sheet alone, he is the only one with a positive performance. He played considerably more minutes than anyone else (34) and he was one of the few that shot efficiently and made mostly smart decisions.
1. Short bench
Very quietly, Nate Oats has already gotten down to the eight or nine man rotation he promised early in the season. Against Bonaventure, we saw a strict eight-deep group, with David Kadiri not seeing any time. Bearden and Skeete each picked up 4 fouls, but UB was able to get stops when they needed them over the last seven minutes regardless. I'm not sure how close to returning Raheem Johnson is, but I am happy with the group as it stands now plus the senior. A tighter rotation will also make for quicker chemistry in the remaining month to MAC play.
2. Nick Perkins is still a freshman
After the late heroics and 45 minutes of improvement from the Canisius game, the freshman forward didn't look great in 21 minutes against Bonaventure and was a net negative on the stat line. Given how strong Ikenna Smart looked, it would have been nice not to have such a drop off.
Player of the Game: Rodell Wigginton
Rodell wasn't much flash last year, and maybe that obscured his contributions, especially offensively, but even so, he's taken a big step forward this year by being outstanding at the little things. In a game where UB faltered everywhere, Wigginton was the only bright spot in multiple areas.
He led all players with 8 made free throws and 10 rebounds, including 7 on the defensive glass, where he's a master of weak side positioning. Add in 2 assists, a block, and 3 offensive boards, and he was the only Bull to overcome his high turnover numbers in this one.