We’re essentially two games into the 2007-2008 season, if you don’t count the D-I games, and the Matt Hall Show is in full effect. Hall scored 36 tonight against Buffalo Classic tournament host West Texas A&M, but the Bisons ended up on the losing end of an 86-80 final score.
Matt Hall had 36 points, distributing them evenly between twos (6-of-9), threes (4-of-7), and free throws (12-of-20). The latter figure is the only unimpressive one of the three, although I imagine it’s hard for Hall to concentrate at the line when he’s probably seeing the ball every time the Bisons come down the floor. Hall added four rebounds and two steals to his 36 points, and he had his first game less-than-five-turnover game of the season.
The rest of the picture was not so pretty, but let’s look at the team stats first:
The officials called 56 fouls between the two teams, with 31 of them called against the Bisons. Steven Barnett, Calvin Rayford and Jacob Thies all fouled out of the game, with Thies doing so after just 11 minutes on the court. Not having seen the game, I’d be interested to know how all of that went down.
I imagine that Trent Morgan was left running the point, since he ended up with four assists and, unfortunately, seven turnovers. He did add 15 points and 7 boards, though, so it wasn’t a truly bad performance in other areas of the game. Barnett had 6 assists in 26 somewhat-limited minutes, shooting just 1-of-8 (all two-point attempts) in the process. My other guess for the fill-in point guard is Matt Garner, whose playing time has mirrored Barnett’s in two of the four games this year.
Chris Dixon had an off night shooting the ball as well, hitting just 2 of 9 field goal attempts, although he did bring down 11 rebounds, leading the team in that category. Jesse Bynum successfully filled the role of tall-guy-we-don’t-use-on-offense, playing 13 minutes without taking a shot. Bynum had a defensive rebound, a steal, and a personal foul during his time spelling Thies.
The defense was probably somewhat different with Barnett and Thies in constant trouble. When WTAMU did go inside, they got fouled, and the rest of the time they were content to shoot threes. WTAMU converted a solid 74% at the line, doing most of their damage either there or from long range. Reserve guard Clint McFall hit 7 of 11 attempted threes, leading the Buffs with 21 points.
My concern after this game is the same concern I’ve had now for several seasons: who picks up the slack when Matt Hall can’t do his Superman routine? If the Bisons fall short when he puts together a game like this one, is there any hope for success against GSC teams that are equipped similarly to WTAMU?
There are probably some plans in place for this, and it’s not like it’s a bad thing to run the offense through Hall, who is clearly the most talented player on the team. On the other hand, roughly 3/4 of the guard playing time goes to more defensively-minded players in Morgan and Barnett, neither of whom is a reliable shooter at this point (despite Morgan’s 15 in this game). It’s somewhat disconcerting to see such a huge night from Hall wasted because no one else can step up and score. Or, in tonight’s case, no one could stop the team on the other end without picking up a foul.
From the box score, it looks like this was an odd game from the start. It’s tough to see your gameplan ripped apart by players unable to stay out of foul trouble. Let’s hope the team can put this one behind them and settle down for the upcoming homestand.
I love that the schedule in recent years has allowed for as many home games as possible while classes are in session, and this year is no different. Over the next two weeks, the Bisons will host Champion Baptist, Jarvis Christian, Alabama-Huntsville, North Alabama and Central Baptist, in that order.