Harding has won its last two games, and summaries will be coming tomorrow. Quick thought: The road win at UAM was a good start, but UAM is also looking down this year.
Now I have some stats. Below are the key factors and player stats from each game.
Harding 99, Central Baptist 78
And for the opener of conference play…
Harding 87, Arkansas-Monticello 76
It’s been a good start to the new year for the Bisons, who had dropped a handful of games to close out 2006. The Bisons beat a scrappy (though not very good) Central Baptist team at home on Thursday and then took out a one-dimensional Arkansas-Monticello team on the road yesterday.
Central Baptist was a small team, but it was encouraging to see that the Bisons were getting the ball inside for easy shots. They did take 18 threes, but that was only about 1/4 of the team’s attempts for the game. For the season, over 40% of the team’s shots have been from outside.
Matt Hall was the leading scorer in each game, and his shooting efficiency is slowly on the rise. He has cracked the top 10 in the conference in offensive rating despite being the only consistent threat for the Bisons. Hall was mixing it up with a few outside shots, some jumpers, and a handful of free throws, presumably keeping opponents on their toes.
Nate Newell filled up the box score for UAM, even though he’s not their best player. The senior-prima-donna-coach’s-son guard threw up 23 shots and made enough of them fall to “lead” his team with 30 points. A farce of a star player if there ever was one, he will be both the hero and the downfall for the Weevils all season. When Billy McDaniel, Brandon Mayweather, and Johnathan Holland were around, he was a solid shooting complement to their strong inside-out play, but he simply won’t carry UAM far on his own. The sooner he and his dad realize that, the more competitive UAM will be. Torre Doty should have gone to school somewhere else.
(Okay, maybe that was too hostile. The younger Newell was a jerk at the games in Searcy, but he’s not a terrible player. He shoots well, but he doesn’t do much of anything else, and he ignores the rules while exploiting them at the same time. He’s efficient because he shoots well, but he’s not good enough to warrant taking a third of his team’s offensive possessions, leading the conference in that category by a huge margin. He also plays every minute of every game, and did I mention that his dad’s the coach?)
(That was still too hostile. I give up. I love you, Nate Newell.)
Brandon Sims and Patrick Andrepont did exactly what they needed to do against UAM, providing solid, efficient scoring help for Hall, while Steven Barnett and Jacob Thies filled their typically small roles in the offense. That’s not really the way I would try to do it, but when your scoring options are limited, you have to use the talent you’ve been given. The Bisons don’t have a lot of talented scorers, especially players who can get it done on both ends of the floor, inside and out. When things go right for Harding, Hall, and to a lesser extent, Andrepont and Sims, can do that, and everyone else fills in around them.
Elsewhere in the GSC
The first weekend was void of surprises: Christian Brothers beat Southern Arkansas, Delta State beat Ouachita, and Henderson State beat Tech. Harding will take part in the first interesting game of the conference season at home against Delta State. DSU has played a fairly weak non-conference schedule, riding it to an 11-2 record. They should be confident, but perhaps they will be unprepared. That game will be on Thursday, and the Bisons will travel to Russellville to face Arkansas Tech on Saturday.
Odds and Ends
I’ve put up two more stat files on the stat page. The January 4th file represents the last update before the conference season, so I made that one as a reference point.