“We still have not clicked yet,” Sanderson said. “We played pretty good both times we played against Austin Peay.
“But in the three or four games we haven’t sustained good possessions on both ends of the floor. We have had a couple of turnovers here and there or a couple of breakdowns defensively. It’s a consistency thing with us.”
The best thing is that his players also know that as well.
The Bisons, 8-5, 3-1 in the Atlantic Sun, are back home Saturday to face Jacksonville, 9-3, 3-0 in the A-Sun. Tip-off is 6:30 p.m. Jacksonville has won its last three games. The Bisons are coming off a 75-61 win at Florida Gulf Coast.
“I’m not crazy about how we have played over the first 13 games,” Sanderson said. “We are not as good as we think we are. We still have a lot of room for improvement and I sense that they feel that. You want to play your best basketball going into March and I think we are heading in that direction.”
Most coaches tell their players that they will play games like they practice. Sanderson wishes that was true for his team.
Practices for the past several weeks have been solid from both a mental and physical standpoint, but how his players perform in practice isn’t always being carried over into games.
“Our players completely understand and they are listening,” Sanderson said. “Hopefully, that will pay dividends.
“Our practices have not been an issue. Our focus in practice has been excellent. This team wants to please. It comes down to them holding each other accountable on both ends of the floor.”
The Florida Gulf Coast game was a prime example of what Sanderson is dealing with. The Bisons held Florida Gulf Coast to 26 points in the first half, but then came out in the second half and allowed 26 points in the first 10 minutes.
“I had to keep calling time out to get us refocused,” Sanderson said. “Then in the last seven or eight minutes we didn’t let Florida Gulf Coast score a basket.
“Our guys know what we have to do. It is a matter of going out and doing it. Being able to sustain good possessions on both ends of the floor for longer periods of time is where the rub is.”
Sanderson expects a major challenge from Jacksonville. The past three seasons the two teams have split games during the regular season. Jacksonville holds a 9-7 edge overall in the series.
“Jacksonville is very good and athletic,” Sanderson said. “They like to play up and down. They play extremely fast. They like to create turnovers. They are more balanced across the roster than they were last year. They will play 10 players.”
The game pits two of the top three offenses in the A-Sun against each other. The Bisons are second with an average of 79.4 points per game. Jacksonville is third overall averaging 69.4 points per game.
Lipscomb senior center Adnan Hodzic leads the A-Sun overall in both points, 20.4 per game) and rebounds, 8.4. Senior guard Josh Slater is second overall in the conference in points with 17.1 per game and tied for third in rebounds with 7.1.
Senior forward Ayron Hardy leads Jacksonville in both points, 12.1 per game, and rebounds, 6.6.
The mantra for Sanderson when talking with his team during games is to keep on battling, especially on the defensive end of the floor no matter what the score might be at any given time.
“We have to be able to defend regardless of how we are playing,” Sanderson said. “If we are playing good then we have to defend. If we are not playing very good we have to defend. If we turn the ball over we have to defend. That is the common denominator.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.