The Beavers are 6-1 on the basketball season right now and off to one of the best starts, record wise, in the past 25 years. But does that mean they are off to a ‘hot start’ like some are saying. To find out we are going to play a little Fact or Fiction.
The Beavers offense has improved from an ORtg of 106.8 last year to 111.1 this year. In some games, they are getting into a flow and the ball is going inside the three point line. Having a much more athletic lineup with Kelly at the 5 has allowed them to play more uptempo. They have at time also been able to effectively break a zone through the use of high post, short corner, and off ball screens. This is something they have not done in the past and if you have ever read my writings about the basketball team, you would know I believe Tinkle is the perfect play for the high post.
This means there offense is actually improved? Fiction! There strength of schedule is 240th out of 353. So how much of this is playing teams that are undersized and undermanned when it comes to a Power 5 school. Probably quite a bit.
Fact: The Beavers defense also has improved. DRtg is down below 100, from 103 in 2017 to 96 this year. They have employed a what appears to be a 3-2 zone but which is probably more of a 2-3 match-up zone. (I would love to hear Wayne speak to this). Again, with 5 athletes out there, this something they should be doing more of. Opponents were shooting close to 35% from beyond the arc last year and that dropped to below 32% this year. They also have gone man even more this year.
This team is in trouble without Big G for the next 4-6 weeks? Fiction! Even before the injury, we here at 35th and Jackson say Kylor Kelly taking the starting role from Big G very soon. Before the beginning of the season, Kelly was an unknown to us general public. Was the Lane Community College transfer be able to keep up with D1 athletes? Was he strong enough to hold his own? So far he has done even more than keep up! His ability to alter shots may already be beyond Eubanks abilities ever were. Last game against Missouri State, I believe he had 4 blocks before picking up his first foul. Would Eubanks ever be able to do that? No! Multiple times, I saw guys change there shots or hesitate and miss a shot because of his presence. Offensively, he has played his role well. He gets multiple lobs a game, runs the court, and cleans the glass.
Fact: the beavers are exactly where I expected them. Prior to the season I believe I said the Beavs would finish 16-11. That was 8-3 in non-conference and 8-8 in conference. I thought there 3 losses would be one in the tournament, hoping it would KSU in the championship, one loss to St. Louis, that’s Saturday, and one loss to Texas A&M. So they are right were I expected them to be. They have struggled against lesser teams, i.e. Long Beach State, Old “Dominion, and half of a couple other games. The fact is that this team should have an average margin of victory of 20 right now. Therefore, is this team off to a ‘hot start’? No, that is Fiction!