Harding loses season opener to Missouri S&T

An already-thin Bison lineup went up against a team with something to prove on Saturday night and met an equal match.  Missouri S&T went 3-24 last year, but behind a handful of young returnees and some new talent, they took the first game of this season’s home-and-home series by a final (double-OT) score of 93-80.

The Bisons finished the game with the minimum of five players available to play, leaving themselves a Kirk Porter foul away from having a short-handed team on the floor.  Point guard Steven Barnett sat early in the game with two fouls and eventually fouled out with 19 points and 5 rebounds.  My usual chorus at this point is to “let them play with two fouls in the first half,” but it wouldn’t have mattered in this game, with its two extra frames.  Kevin Brown managed just 20 minutes on the floor, scoring 12 and leading the team with five turnovers.  Reserves Calvin Rayford and Brian Howard also fouled out, but the latter had a productive game: a double-double including a team-leading total of 13 rebounds in 29 minutes of play.

Trent Morgan led the team in minutes with 41 and was the leading scorer with 21 points, although it took him 19 field goal attempts (and four free throws) to get there.  Barnett was arguably the most efficient scorer, making over half of his shot attempts while still scoring reasonably often.  He would have been on track for over 30 points if he could have stayed on the floor for 40 minutes.

As in the UALR exhibition, the Bisons struggled from long range, making just 6 of 23 3-point shots.  Sam Brown was the biggest brick culprit, making just 1-of-8 threes, and missing his only 2-point attempt on top of that.

The Miners attempted more free throws than the Bisons due to a slight foul disparity, although they probably didn’t take full advantage of them, shooting just 22-of-34 from the stripe.  S&T had five players score in double figures, including a double-double from Adam Knollmeyer, who had 15 rebounds (leading both teams).  The Miners out-rebounded the Bisons overall, although both teams struggled considerably for second chances.  The turnover bug honestly bit both teams equally, so that shouldn’t have played a huge factor in the outcome.

It was an evenly matched game by most accounts…the Miners just outlasted the Bisons in the second OT.

Next up is the home opener against Champion Baptist on Thursday, so we’ll probably get to see plenty of the reserve players.  The rematch against S&T is in Searcy on December 9.

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6 thoughts on “Harding loses season opener to Missouri S&T

  1. It looks like the threes are absolutely going to have to fall for this Bison team to score enough to beat good teams. I wonder if height is the main issue there…[Sam] Brown is 6’nothing, Morgan is 6’2″ and not really a sharpshooter anyway, Blake is well under 6′, and I guess I could go on. There are no shooters taller than 6’2″, and every D-II team is going to be able to defend guys who are that size.

    Any idea if moving the three-point line back has affected the shooters? I would imagine that most of those guys can still hit from 20’9″, but you never know.

    At least the defense should be pretty good if they can grab defensive rebounds consistently.

  2. A collection of undersized “shooters”, undersized insides, and undersized defenders does not bode well for this season.

    Moving the 3 line back doesn’t seem to have affected the # of attempts, only the %.

    With the usual offensive scheme and undersized insides, the only option may be if you can see it, shoot at it.

    They will work hard.

  3. The D-I coaches I’ve talked to at least said moving the three-point line isn’t going to make a difference in accuracy from the 3 pt. line.

    Most good shooters practice their shots from 22′-24′ anyway. At most, it will just alter the angles where players without the ball make their cuts.

    Though if a D-II team’s three-point shooters are all 6′ – 6’2″, and doesn’t have any big posts who are threats to score at the low block- it may be a long year. There’s no need to double team a post who has no chance to score.

    With a big man scoring threat, he would draw double teams that would allow him to kick the ball back out and have a defense scrambling while the smaller guards rotate the ball around the perimeter.

    Though if there’s no big man in the post that’s a viable scoring option to offset the small guards, it could be a long year. What you’re describing makes for an undersized NAIA Division II team, much less an NCAA Division II team.

  4. Also, almost no coach is going to leave a player in with two fouls in the first half. Too much can go wrong. Unless it’s under a minute, offense has ball out of bounds with a 35-second shot clock, and a guard who likely won’t pick up an offensive foul, it’s rarely going to happen… unless said player could be easily replaced in the second half if they get in foul trouble again… or the bench is extremely thin and a 2-foul player is 100x better than any player sitting on the bench.

  5. I understand that most coaches are going to take a player out with two fouls. Most coaches tend to be risk-averse. However, I still tend to question the logic behind the strategy.

    In theory, it’s more important for the coach to maximize the number of minutes (possessions) he gets from his best players, regardless of when those minutes occur. Making sure that a good player is around for the end of the game is less important than maximizing his time on the floor. Leaving a player in with two fouls doesn’t guarantee that he picks up a third in the first half (or at all), but taking him out guarantees that he won’t produce for you.

    The argument I can see for taking players out in this context is to control the substitution pattern for a team that has a short bench, as Harding certainly did here. Perhaps it is important to keep the same flow of players in and out of the game, so that certain players aren’t exhausted at the end of the game. To me, that’s more of a conditioning issue, though. Under normal circumstances, that situation could be handled with players who are prepared physically.

    As you can tell, I still think the cost of taking the player out is still outweighed by the benefit of leaving him in.

    To me, this is similar to what football coaches do on fourth down. Virtually every coach is more conservative than he should be because a “mistake” there will get him vilified by fans and the media, regardless of whether he made the right decision. Perhaps basketball coaches feel the same way, but they’re not necessarily making the right decision from a strictly theoretical standpoint.

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