The trio needs some louder background singers.
Center Adnan Hodzic and guards Josh Slater and Jordan Burgason have been carrying the load for the Lipscomb Bisons for most of the season. Coach Scott Sanders is preaching every day to his players that those three need some help, especially in the months of February and March.
“The other guys are critical every game whether it is rebounding, defending, getting loose balls, making a big free throw or making a big basket on a hustle play,” Sanderson said. “The problem is that you end up adding three, four or five minutes to each guy and those three will wind up playing an extra game.
“I need to be able to play eight or nine guys and distribute those minutes so that once we get into March, which is the most important time, we will be fresh and not worn down. We have modified practice a little bit so we don’t spend as much time on the floor."
There is no rest for the weary at this stage of the season.
“The biggest thing in February, whether you have a short bench or a long bench, is to have an understanding and knowledge of what the other team is going to do and to have fresh legs,"Sanderson said. "That is what we are trying to do to the best of our abilities.”
The Bisons, 12-10, 9-4 in the Atlantic Sun, begin a busy and crucial weekend Friday night at Allen Arena when North Florida, 10-12, 5-7) visits. The tip-off is at 7. The Bisons beat North Florida 79-55 on the road Jan. 16. Sunday at 1 p.m. the Bisons will host Jacksonville.
The Bisons have won their last three games. North Florida has lost four of its last five.
“We are playing eight or nine guys,” Sanderson said. “But if I could I get the No. 6 through No. 9 players to get me one to three more minutes each that would take 12 or 15 more minutes off of your regular starters.”
Hodzic has scored in double figures in 49 straight games, the longest active streak in the nation. He has recorded double-doubles in his last three games. He leads the Atlantic Sun in scoring, and is also 13th in the nation, with 21.6 points per game. He is fourth in the conference in rebounding with 8.1 per game.
Slater is sixth in the A-Sun in scoring with 17.4 points per game. He is third in assists with 4.95 per game and fifth in steals with 2.05. In conference games only he is second in scoring with 21 points per game.
Burgason is averaging 12.2 points per game. His 43.5 3-point field goal percentage is tops in the conference and 12th nationally.
“Those guys are different,” Sanderson said. “Adnan is going to score balls down low. Jordan is going to score a bunch of three and stretch the other team defensively. And Josh can shoot threes and drive the basket.”
Sanderson is not overly concerned that Hodzic, Slater and Burgason are handling the bulk of the scoring.
“I know Michael Teller or Brian Wright can give you double figures at any time,” Sanderson said. “We have a good mixture of guys who can score from the inside and score from the outside and drive the ball to the basket.
“Those three guys are scoring a lot. But if each one of the other guys can get six, eight or 10 points that will be big for us as well.”
The biggest thing that Sanderson wants his team to focus on is why they are winning games and why they are losing games.
“All we can control is what we can do,” Sanderson said. “We can control how we learn and how we listen.
“The three road wins have given us confidence. We were down by 13 at Belmont and down nine at both ETSU and Campbell. You can’t simulate those things in practice.”
When the Bisons and Ospreys played in Jacksonville there were 55 fouls called in the game. Sanderson expects another physical game Saturday.
“They are big and strong,” Sanderson said. “They are an extremely physical team. It is one of those types of games that can take a toll on you. We have to be ready for it.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations