The final two weeks of the year are usually a time of fun and relaxation in celebration of Christmas and the coming of a new year.
Lipscomb Bison basketball coach Scott Sanderson let his players have an extra day off, sending them home after the Dec. 21 game at Iowa State. The Bison returned to the court Dec. 27 for practice with two sessions a day in preparation for an Atlantic Sun game Jan. 2 at Jacksonville, the first of three straight conference road games.
“Some guys played a lot of minutes and it was important for them to get healed up physically and mentally,” Sanderson said. “Our schedule allowed us to have an extra day.
“We practiced twice a day on Dec. 27, Dec. 28 and Dec. 29. We dropped back to one practice after that. Conference games are more important to us at our level than the non-conference games.”
The Bison will be welcoming the return of freshman point guard Zavion Williams, who has been sidelined with a knee injury since Dec. 6, missing the last five games. Zavion is averaging 11.9 points per game. The Bison are losing sophomore guard Robert Boyd, averaging 11.2 points per game, who has been ruled academically ineligible and won't return to Lipscomb for the spring semester..
“Zavion is back practicing,” Sanderson said. “I don’t talk a lot about it, but losing him for a month was a big thing. Getting him back will be a huge benefit to our team.
“He can beat you off of the dribble. He establishes us defensively. He can guard the ball. He creates a lot of havoc getting steals. He creates a lot of offensive transition.”
As the Bison, 6-8 overall, 1-1 in the A-Sun, head into 16 straight conference games, Sanderson will be counting on several players to step up, especially 6-foot-8 senior center Justin Glenn.
“Once we go into league play Justin will be going against more guys his size,” Sanderson said. “I also think Malcolm Smith will also be more effective in league games. I also think Marvin Williams can score more in the low post in our league.”
Each game is a new learning experience for Sanderson’s young team. He wanted his players to face a tough non-conference schedule, but he admits it might have been a little too tough. But he thinks his players are ready for the challenge of A-Sun play.
“We are limited in numbers, but we have to understand what affects winning or losing for us, especially rebounding the ball,” Sanderson said. “We are smaller in several spots. We have to do a better job of boxing out down there.”
The Bison had some key wins against Austin Peay, Tennessee-Martin, SIU-Edwardsville, Sacred Heart and Kennesaw State. Sanderson credited those victories to defense; another area where he knows his team has to pick up the intensity in order to be successful.
“We want to give the other team only one shot,” Sanderson said. “We have been able to score. We are averaging close to 75 points a game against the schedule we have played.
“Scoring hasn’t been a problem. Our offense has gotten better, but we have taken a step back defensively.”