When you have a streak going, you do whatever you can to keep it going. A baseball player might wear the same pair of underwear for weeks during a hot streak, and hockey players grow “playoff beards” in an attempt to prolong their postseason runs. The Bisons, with a home opener win streak of 27, stacked things in their favor a little bit by scheduling Champion Baptist for the opening slot this year. The end result last night was another opening night win, a 95-51 laugher that served as a chance for the bench players to get a lot of game action.
Harding’s starting guard trio of Trent Morgan, Sam Brown, and Steven Barnett played less than half of the game, and Morgan and Barnett were barely involved in the offense at all. When you have a size advantage like the Bisons presumably did (height is not listed on CBC’s roster page), you have to exploit it, and the Bisons did just that.
Kevin Brown scored 25 points on 14 shots (in 23 minutes), and Brian Howard (who started over Kirk Porter) scored 15 on just 8 shots. Howard played 33 minutes, so his scoring effort was actually more “efficient” than it was “impressive.” He also added 10 rebounds for a second consecutive double-double. Having a productive Howard playing major minutes inside would be a huge boost to the team in the future. Porter, Sam Brown, and Matt Garner also scored in double figures.
The Bisons collectively shot 58% from the field and 64% inside the arc, which is very good, but the main reason for the blowout was that they were able to attempt 23 more field goals and 7 more free throws than CBC. Forcing 30 turnovers in a game will have that kind of effect. The Bisons were also dominant on the boards, grabbing nearly 40% of their own missed shots and 91% of CBC’s misses.
22 of the Bisons’ 30 forced turnovers were directly off of steals, so I’m guessing there were plenty of transition baskets to be had. Stephen Blake led the way with six steals, while K-Brown and Morgan had four each. (I need a good way to refer to Kevin Brown and Sam Brown, but I can’t just call them both “Brown.” I don’t really want to use their first names exclusively, but I’m open to suggestions on how to do that.) Blake had another rough game shooting the ball (1-for-6), so I hope he’s going to be able to get shots off against D-II teams.
Incarnate Word is next up on Saturday. The Bisons last played them in November ’06, losing 79-70. UIW was picked second in the Heartland Conference’s preseason poll. The Cardinals are led by junior gunner Pierce Caldwell, last year’s Heartland Player of the Year and an honorable mention for the D-II All-America team.
In other notes, the team announced another early high school signee, Weston Jameson, of Edgewood, TX. Jameson is a 6’1″ guard with a good three-point stroke. He’s been a stat-sheet filler (that’s a good thing) under his father’s coaching at the Texas 2A school, averaging 19 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals as a junior. I’m not sure if he’s a point guard, which is what the team really needs after this year. What I do know is that he was a prolific passer as Edgewood’s QB, so that can’t be a bad thing. With Jameson and fellow early commitment Jordan Layrock, the Bisons are building on a pretty strong foundation for the future.