For 20 minutes Monday night at Stetson the Bisons put on a solid defensive performance, holding Stetson to 19 points while managing only 18 points from the field themselves.
In the second half everything changed. The Bisons started shooting better, but Stetson really opened things up scoring 57 points on the way to a 76-66 win in Atlantic Sun play.
“We played the best half we have played all season long defensively in the first half,” Sanderson said. “We coupled that with playing the worst half we have played all season long defensively.
“It was the same team out there playing. It is a focus. It is a mindset. When a team starts scoring on us there is no sense of urgency to get it stopped.”
The Bisons were back on the court early Tuesday morning for practice. Defense was the topic of discussion as the Bisons watched video of both halves and then worked on getting things right before Wednesday night’s game at Alico Area at Florida Gulf Coast in Fort Myers. Game time is 6:30 p.m.
The Bisons are 7-5, 2-1 in the A-Sun heading into the game. Florida Gulf Coast, an 83-51 loser to Belmont Monday night, is 3-9 overall, 0-3 in the conference.
“We had to show them the biggest difference between the first half and the second half,” Sanderson said of the video session. “It is not hard to understand. We have to maintain focus and energy on the defensive end of the floor.
“Usually, when you are missing shots like we did in the first half, it takes your energy away defensively. We weren’t making shots in the first half but we dug our heels in and did an unbelievable job of defending Stetson. But in the second half when we scored a lot easier our defense relaxed.”
Coaching is all about teaching. Sanderson felt that the defensive lesson had to be emphasized again.
“We had to explain it to them.” Sanderson said. “We had to show it to them on film. And then we had to work on it.
“They have to listen and learn from it. They have to turn the page and get ready for Florida Gulf Coast. If they don’t learn from it they are going to lose some more games on the road.”
Sanderson also talked about the need to sustain a top effort every second and every possession of every game for a full 40 minutes.
“I had no problem with our execution in the first 20 minutes against Stetson,” Sanderson said. “But that has to be sustained for 40 minutes especially when you are getting the other team’s best shot.
“Even in the games we have won we haven’t sustained our efforts for long, long periods of time in both halves. If we aren’t making shots we have to dig in defensively. And if we are making shots we have to dig in defensively too.”
Florida Gulf Coast counts on strong shooting from beyond the 3-point arc. That means the Bisons will have to cover even more of the court.
The game will feature four of the top five scorers overall in the A-Sun. Lipscomb center Adnan Hodzic is first with 20.3 points per game. Lipscomb guard Josh Slater is second with 17.1 points per game.
Reed Baker from Florida Gulf Coast is fourth overall with 16.2 points per game. He is followed by teammate Anthony Banks in fifth place with 15.9 points per game.
“They shoot the ball well from the perimeter,” Sanderson said. “You have to guard more floor against them than you do against some teams.”
While defense is the main concern at this point Sanderson is not all that excited about the way the offense has been playing in the last couple of games.
“We have to shoot better,” Sanderson said. “I went back and watched the film and against Stetson in the first half we got 10 wide open shots by the right people and they just missed them.
“I can get them good shots, but I can’t make them for them. There is a not a whole lot I can do about that.”
Sanderson points to the importance of winning a road game against Florida Gulf Coast.
“In my opinion it can’t get here fast enough,” Sanderson said. “We have to learn and we have to continue to grow up.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.