Lipscomb Bisons coach Scott Sanderson would like the gift of defensive consistency for his team, but he can’t wait until Christmas to get his wish.
The Bisons will be balancing final exams with basketball the next several days starting Thursday night when SIU Edwardsville (2-6) visits Allen Arena for a game at 7. The Bisons (2-5) beat SIU Edwardsville 67-64 Nov. 28, but Sanderson expects to see a much different team this time around.
“They have a good, solid team,” said Sanderson. “They have lost a lot of close games.”
SIU Edwardsville upset host Drake 60-58 in the first round of the HyVee Classic. They beat Texas-Arlington 71-67 to win the tournament title.
The Bisons first win of the season was at SIU Edwardsville, a member of the Ohio Valley Conference. The Bisons are 0-2 at home this season.
“We have lost a couple of games we didn’t think we were going to lose,” said Sanderson. “I think that could be a benefit if we learn from this.”
Regardless of who the Bisons are playing Sanderson wants to see a better defensive effort.
“We are looking for consistency on the defensive end of the floor,” said Sanderson. “Teams are shooting 52 percent from the floor against us. If they just shot 45 percent against us we would be winning by 10 or 15 points because we have been about as good offensively as we have been since I have been here.
“Teams are especially shooting at an unbelievable clip against us from 3-point range. They are making almost 11 threes (10.6) a game against us. I don’t care who you are, that is hard to overcome.”
Adding to Sanderson’s frustration is that those 3-point shots are being contested.
“All of our games except Vanderbilt and Ohio State have been going down to the wire and we are giving up 10.6 threes a game,” said Sanderson. “And they are contested shots.
“ You would think there is no way that teams can continue to do that. But so far for seven games that has been the case. You can’t let shot making by the other team affect your energy defensively. We will get better defensively.”
Junior center Adnan Hodzic leads the Bisons with 21.6 points per game. Junior guard Josh Slater is averaging 19 points per game followed by junior forward Brandon Brown with 13.7. Sophomore guard Jordan Burgason is averaging 9.7 points per game. Junior Michael Teller is shooting at a 7.6 points per game pace.
“Teams can key on Adnan if they want to,” said Sanderson. “But Jordan is going to get 30-something points. Josh Slater will score. Michael Teller, Brandon Brown and Brian Wright will get their points.”
“We probably have been a little better offensively than I anticipated. We have a lot of guys who can score with the basketball.”
One of the key changes that has helped the offense is the shifting of Josh Slater to the point guard position.
“We have a point guard in Josh and a five-man in Adnan who can put a lot of pressure on a defense,” said Sanderson. “And then we have all of the wing guys who can shoot it or slide.
“We are shooting 47 percent from 2-points, 35 percent from 3-point range and in league play we are shooting 84 percent from the free throw line. Our turnovers are gradually coming down. But we still have to get better offensively.”
Winning these next two games at home are crucial, but Sanderson is also concerned that is team play well on both ends of the court.
“I want us to play well on both sides of the ball,” said Sanderson. “We are rebounding the ball very, very well, but we the only problem is we are only getting a 48 percent opportunity to rebound. We have always been a very good rebounding team, but there are fewer to get.
“We understand our limitations. We just have to keep working and everything corrected. We can’t be discouraged. Hopefully, when we get back into league play we will have it rectified.”Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations