Preview: Harding hosts preseason favorite Delta State

Delta State (9-1, 1-0 GSC West) at Harding (8-2, 0-0)

Delta State team stats:

Pace OEff DEff Net TS% AR TR
74.3 116.0 94.7 21.3 58.8 18.2 13.3

The keys (percent +/-):

TS% OR% TR
0.108 0.472 0.368

Average opponent rating: 37.1

Harding team stats:

Pace OEff DEff Net TS% AR TR
76.0 110.9 100.7 10.2 57.2 16.2 14.8

The keys (percent +/-):

TS% OR% TR
0.061 0.069 0.150

Average opponent rating: 37.6

Delta State regulars:

40-minute averages:

## Player PTS REB A TO BLK S GS
32 Jasper Johnson 27.7 10.5 3.4 2.2 0.0 2.9 24.2
23 Jeremy Richardson 24.9 6.4 2.7 2.7 0.3 1.9 18.4
11 Travis DeGroot 7.6 3.9 8.5 4.3 0.1 2.5 7.1
12 Turmaine Rice 13.9 3.2 2.4 2.1 0.2 2.9 10.9
43 Victor Brown 19.4 10.3 2.6 2.6 2.6 1.5 17.7
34 Sandrell Spann 15.4 11.0 1.7 1.7 2.2 1.3 14.6
21 Colby Harris 14.5 9.6 3.2 3.2 1.4 1.1 12.8

Other averages:

## Player MIN FG% 3FG% FT% A/T
32 Jasper Johnson 32.1 0.586 0.407 0.750 1.50
23 Jeremy Richardson 30.0 0.511 0.482 0.765 1.00
11 Travis DeGroot 28.6 0.357 0.100 0.481 1.97
12 Turmaine Rice 26.5 0.466 0.412 0.588 1.14
43 Victor Brown 23.3 0.586 0.143 0.556 1.00
34 Sandrell Spann 21.8 0.534 0.000 0.647 1.00
21 Colby Harris 11.3 0.640 0.000 0.500 1.00

Advanced stats:

## Player TS% PPR AR TR BI RR UR PER aPER
32 Jasper Johnson 64.2 0.0 12.4 8.3 -3.5 14.2% 23.1 30.63 29.44
23 Jeremy Richardson 64.1 -2.2 10.8 10.8 -3.1 8.7% 21.3 23.23 22.32
11 Travis DeGroot 39.8 3.4 38.2 19.4 2.8 5.3% 15.4 8.84 8.49
12 Turmaine Rice 57.2 -1.3 14.5 12.7 -0.4 4.3% 14.0 13.89 13.34
43 Victor Brown 60.3 -2.1 12.1 12.1 -1.4 14.0% 18.1 22.60 21.72
34 Sandrell Spann 57.6 -1.4 9.9 9.9 -0.5 15.0% 14.5 19.41 18.65
21 Colby Harris 62.3 -2.7 17.7 17.7 -1.4 13.0% 14.7 16.90 16.24

Harding regulars:

40-minute averages:

## Player PTS REB A TO BLK S GS
14 Lonnie Smith 26.4 4.7 2.5 2.5 0.0 2.9 21.0
24 Patrick Andrepont 18.7 7.3 2.0 2.5 0.0 2.0 13.9
21 Brandon Sims 21.0 7.6 2.4 1.4 0.1 3.0 17.6
12 Reggie Bibb 9.1 2.8 7.6 2.5 0.0 1.3 8.9
42 Jacob Thies 7.2 8.6 1.7 1.9 0.0 0.6 4.7
4 Cole Kee 21.5 5.5 3.3 4.8 0.0 0.9 11.9
50 Alassane Savadogo 18.3 18.0 1.2 4.4 3.2 1.2 14.3
22 Steven Barnett 2.8 3.9 9.6 7.6 0.0 1.7 -0.4
34 Jesse Bynum 9.7 10.0 1.0 3.3 1.3 0.3 6.2

Other averages:

## Player MIN FG% 3FG% FT% A/T
14 Lonnie Smith 34.0 0.497 0.392 0.865 1.00
24 Patrick Andrepont 30.1 0.460 0.417 0.810 0.79
21 Brandon Sims 28.0 0.459 0.455 0.769 1.70
12 Reggie Bibb 27.2 0.375 0.308 0.688 3.06
42 Jacob Thies 20.7 0.444 0.000 0.588 0.86
4 Cole Kee 18.2 0.467 0.389 0.667 0.68
50 Alassane Savadogo 16.2 0.508 0.000 0.400 0.28
22 Steven Barnett 14.2 0.154 0.000 0.462 1.26
34 Jesse Bynum 12.0 0.444 0.500 0.571 0.30

Advanced stats:

## Player TS% PPR AR TR BI RR UR PER aPER
14 Lonnie Smith 65.2 -2.1 9.8 9.8 -3.6 6.2% 21.4 25.39 24.60
24 Patrick Andrepont 57.7 -3.0 9.6 12.2 -0.7 9.6% 17.6 17.19 16.66
21 Brandon Sims 60.0 0.5 11.4 6.7 -1.5 10.0% 17.9 22.08 21.40
12 Reggie Bibb 49.9 6.5 39.7 13.0 0.9 3.7% 12.9 10.79 10.46
42 Jacob Thies 51.0 -2.1 15.6 18.2 0.6 11.3% 8.6 6.88 6.67
4 Cole Kee 58.2 -6.6 12.4 18.1 -0.9 7.2% 22.2 14.39 13.95
50 Alassane Savadogo 50.1 -9.1 5.2 18.6 1.8 23.8% 21.0 19.09 18.50
22 Steven Barnett 26.7 -3.1 42.6 33.9 2.8 5.2% 14.6 -0.21 -0.20
34 Jesse Bynum 53.2 -6.7 7.5 24.9 0.4 13.2% 11.6 8.57 8.30

The breakdown:

Let me try to put this simply: Delta State likes to run. They make easy shots and hard shots. They rebound well, and they don’t turn the ball over a lot. They also play solid defense, and have plenty of size. This puts them in the elite among D-II teams, even though they don’t have a national ranking. This will be a very tough game, but Harding does have one edge (albeit a stifled one, with everyone still on break), the home crowd. Even if there aren’t many people in Searcy, the Rhodes has a reputation as a difficult place to play, and not a lot of these guys have faced that type of challenge. DSU is an “experienced” team, but they haven’t played together long as a team, and many of their players come from JUCO backgrounds, where the crowd at the Rhodes might be a shock to them. It’s just too bad that most of the students won’t be there to see it.

The Statesmen are led by Jasper Johnson, who transferred from D-I Southern Miss, where he was one of the better players in Conference-USA. Jeremy Richardson is their best returning player, a great athlete who can shoot and defend well. Throw in about 6 or 7 more similarly talented players and you have the DSU roster. They also have an experienced coach in Steve Rives. If it’s not already clear, this is the best team the Bisons will play at home this year.

Harding has Ceso Sprewell back now after a semester of ineligibility, and his presence has been needed on the glass for some time. Sprewell is good at making inside shots and is a phenomenal rebounder for his size. He was one of the conference’s most efficient players last year, a trend I expect to continue in 2006. Along with Alassane Savadogo, it appears that we have some size to match up to Delta State, but I worry about quickness. Sprewell is more suited to guarding non-post players because of his height, and Savadogo probably isn’t quick enough to handle Jasper Johnson. He’ll even have to guard him on the outside, because Johnson has made 11 of 27 three-point attempts this season.

Matchups: Guards

Reggie Bibb will face DSU point man Travis DeGroot, who is probably one of the more similar players to Bibb in the conference. DeGroot doesn’t shoot a lot, and he is a good distributor for his high-flying teammates. Turmaine Rice is the two guard for DSU, and while he shoots for a decent percentage from outside, he is not an accomplished sharp-shooter or scorer. However, this position is usually a size mismatch for Lonnie Smith, so there’s no telling what he can do. Smith will understandably give him problems on the defensive end, which should come as no surprise.

Matchups: Forwards

Richardson, Victor Brown, and Sandrell Spann take most of the minutes at these spots for the Statesmen, with Richardson being the most difficult matchup. While the others have size, Richardson is a great athlete and will create problems for Sprewell, Andrepont, or Sims, whichever ends up covering him. This area may be the Bisons’ strength, though, with solid outside shooters everywhere to bring the DSU big men out of their comfort zone a bit.

Matchups: Post

Simply put, Jasper Johnson is the best post player in the conference. He won’t have seen many players with Savadogo’s size, but if Alassane can keep up with him, he’ll be the first to have done so. Johnson has scored at least 20 points in eight of DSU’s ten games, with double figure scoring in the other two, and he has also recorded at least 10 rebounds in four games. Savadogo will likely need help on a double team whenever Johnson comes inside, although he may have a rebounding edge that the Bisons can exploit.

Summary
I’m not sure the Bisons can keep up in this game, but it will certainly be fun to watch, since both of these teams like to run the ball up and down the court. I expect the Statesmen to pull out a victory, though, making it a rough start in Harding’s conference opener.

Computer prediction: DSU 87-85
My prediction: DSU 88-81

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