UCA downs Bisons in last GSC meeting between the rivals

The Bisons lost 72-55 last night in Conway, thanks to a startling display of poor shooting by a number of Bison regulars. Lonnie Smith was held to a season-low 8 points. He made just 2 of 14 shots from the field, missing all four of his attempts from inside the arc. Cole Kee led the Bisons with 12, but he only made 5 of 14 shots (2-of-9 from outside). Patrick Andrepont was 3-for-10, and Alassane Savadogo was shut out in four tries. The keys explain the game a bit better:

HU Opp +/-
Eff 79.3 100.3 -21.0 Actual net efficiency
TS% 43.4 59.2 -0.158
OR% 33.3% 25.0% 0.083
TR 21.2 19.0 -0.022
-23.7 Predicted net efficiency

Ceso Sprewell and Steven Barnett really were the only Bisons who had moderately good games, but neither touched the ball enough to have a big impact on the offensive end. The shooting edge for UCA proved to be a killer, since turnovers were a wash and the rebounding edge went to Harding. This Bears team lacks a go-to scorer, but they got enough to pull out an easy home win. The Bisons defense will have to improve and improve fast, since they probably need to win all four remaining conference games (vs. Christian Brothers, at Ouachita Baptist, vs. Arkansas Tech, at Henderson State) to get a spot in the conference tournament.

If you ask me, the Bisons look defeated when they step onto the court. Their only confidence right now is in the 3-point shot, which hasn’t fallen enough to justify using it as a primary weapon. Lonnie, Cole, and Patrick take bad shot after bad shot after bad shot, and practically the whole team looks lost defensively (except Ceso and Steven). The rebounding effort has improved, but this team is going to have to put it all together in a hurry if they don’t want to miss out on the postseason. I think they may already be mailing it in, so they’ll have to prove me wrong.

I’m spoiled by having entered Harding the year we went to the NCAA Tournament, and now I’ve come to expect it every year. That doesn’t change my expectation; I’m just explaining the reason. If I’m going to invest a lot of effort into being a fan, I expect the players to give the same effort. This team is capable of making a run. Now they just have to believe it and do it.

Elsewhere around the GSC, Henderson State gained a game on the Bisons with a 59-53 win at Christian Brothers. OBU snapped their home losing streak with a big 19-point win over Arkansas Tech. Then, nationally-ranked #9 Delta State had to put up a big rally to overcome Southern Arkansas on the road, 67-63. DSU lost high-flying forward Jeremy Richardson to an injury in their previous win over UAM, and it seems to have brought them back to Earth a bit. They may be beatable without Richardson, who was really their only effective outside scorer. They are a far more one-dimensional team without him, so they may have a tough road if he doesn’t return.

The updated conference standings:

Rank Team W L Pct.
1 Delta State 12 0 1.000
2 Central Arkansas 9 4 0.692
3 Arkansas-Monticello 8 4 0.667
4 Christian Brothers 7 5 0.583
5 Henderson State 7 6 0.538
6 Harding 4 8 0.333
6 Ouachita Baptist 4 8 0.333
8 Southern Arkansas 3 10 0.231
9 Arkansas Tech 2 11 0.154


2 thoughts on “UCA downs Bisons in last GSC meeting between the rivals

  1. How can you sit there and criticize the team that they aren’t giving any effort? You have no place to come across and make a comment….unless your right there in the middle of the team while they are playing you have no right to comment on this….its easy to criticize a team from the stands but do you go through thier everyday workout with them??

  2. It’s difficult for me to respond to this without seeming petty, but I’ll try my best. Here are a few points that might clear up some misconceptions. Somewhere in here is a response to that comment:

    1. Regardless of the impression that I may or may not show, I am a rabid fan of Harding basketball.

    2. I write what I write for the purpose of being both informative and constructively critical.

    3. I appreciate the work put into the program by the athletic department, the coaches, and the players.

    4. I think that we’re all better off, no matter what the subject is, if we’re willing to think critically and use a healthy level of skepticism (I sound more like an auditor than a basketball fan now). Refusing to do so, I think, is stifling to the progression of the program, the athletes, and the university. I could go on about that point in other areas (politics, etc.), but I think it’s sufficiently clear.

    5. Clearly, I’m not connected to the team in any way, so I ultimately don’t know if they’re giving a full effort every night. What I have said, though, has a basis in fact. So, with all of the above in mind, here are my thoughts on “effort”:

    a. The Bisons’ defensive efficiency numbers are occasionally strong but weak overall. The strong performances lead me to believe that this team has a higher ceiling than the level at which they are currently playing.

    b. On the offensive end, the high brick indexes by key players signify poor shot selection, especially of late. Part of that is attributable to other teams’ good defense, and part is attributable to poor execution of the offense.

    Our reliance on the three has been a problem all year since Matt Hall’s unfortunate injury removed most of the inside dimension of our game, forcing us to rely on shooters and inexperienced players for a large chunk of our offense.

    This is not all the players’ fault, but you have to adjust at some point and steer the offense toward higher-percentage shots. The continued reliance on the 3-point shot to me represents poor adjustment, which could be construed as a lack of effort to improve. I’m not saying it is for sure, but that’s how it appears.

    Hopefully everyone who reads this can understand that I don’t mean any harm to the players or coaching staff with my criticism. This is just my two cents on what they could do to improve:

    1. Get the ball inside to Sprewell more regularly and keep Savadogo involved as well. Neither is a great shooter, but both manage to score efficiently and are occasionally mismatches for their defenders.

    2. Make the extra pass on offense. Our players decide to play an NBA-style one-on-one game too often, and the mismatches required to make that work just don’t exist. Cole Kee and others need to learn not to shoot at every opportunity. This might require some deviation from our up-tempo style, which doesn’t seem to be helping us much at this point.

    3. Somehow deal with the officiating. I may save this for another post, but Harding has been on the receiving end of a lot of poor calls this year, perhaps even enough to look into it further. The quality of GSC officiating has been especially poor this year, and there’s really nothing the players can do but grin and bear it. Hopefully things will balance out over the last 4 games.

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