Wanted: consistency for bball team

The Panthers need to be better with their shooting opportunities.

Saturday night was an encouraging sight to see coming off two blowout losses by Cleveland State and Wisconsin.  South Dakota State, no longer the pushover of past years, dropped only their second game of the season, losing to Milwaukee 82-70.

The Panthers needed a victory; the last two games were losses by an average of 22 points.  Now they turn their attention to DePaul, whose season has gone worse than Milwaukee’s thus far.  That hasn’t stopped teams from beating the Panthers before; Western Michigan isn’t scaring anybody, although Detroit probably should have been the other day.

I keep hearing that the Panthers are losing to very good teams (apart from WMU).  There’s no arguing that, at least not a compelling one.  But when are we going to be that very good team?  Year six is not a time to be blown out in multiple games, and a lot of fans were looking for victories, especially that one from the Saturday after Thanksgiving that stung more than others.

The Panthers worst losses were against WMU and CSU. Surprise, those were also their worst shooting performances.

I’m not looking to win every game as much as I am looking for consistently good play from the team.  If that comes, then the winning will follow.

One area I’m looking for improvement from is the shooting guard position.  Whether he’s fully healed from his back problems or not, Tone Boyle is no longer the dynamic scorer night in and night out that he was as a junior in 2008-09.  In eleven games this season, the senior is averaging 11.9 ppg.  While in and of itself it’s not a terrible scoring average, it’s only 10.4 ppg if you take out the 27-point performance at Niagara.  I don’t discount that at all, but it was a great game that was one of four where he shot over 33.3% beyond the arc, the cut-off between guys with a green light to shoot threes and players who need to hold off from downtown (hint, Anthony Hill: you’re below that on jump shots beyond 12 feet).

Ja'Rob McCallum is the most effective shooter on the team in the early season.

Maybe it’s time that the team is shown that shooting is important.  By shooting just five percent better over the course of a season (as in making 9 in 20 instead of 8 in 20), the team could be averaging seven more points per game.  That’s the difference between a 20-win team and a 25-win team, or in our case, the NCAA Tournament and your former fearless leader losing the application to the CIT.

Obviously, shooting well is important.  So maybe the Panthers make an example by giving Ja’Rob McCallum the starting spot at the 2.  He has made four starts this season, but they came in the three spot that coach Jeter is still trying to figure out (hint: it’s the guy who has started the most in that spot).  While his nine points in 23 minutes is comparable to Tone Boyle’s 12 points in 30 minutes per game, McCallum is shooting better everywhere except the foul line (ugh).

The thing that attracts me to the idea of starting McCallum over Boyle, however, isn’t that he’s shooting at a better clip.  It’s that he’s full of confidence.  He takes shots against anybody and everybody.  Boyle, on the other hand, has been afraid to shoot at times, he spanned the Marquette to Wisconsin games without shooting ten field goals.  That’s not a good trend when you’re first and foremost a shooter.  We needed Boyle to be shooting against Wisconsin, but the Panther guard only shot six times from the field.  He was equally invisible against Cleveland State and Marquette.

If Boyle can get open for good shots, he can return to his All-League level of 2008-09.

That’s not to say I want Boyle to be jacking up threes every time he gets the ball (or anybody for that matter).  Quality shots have been a problem for the whole team; nearly everybody is having difficulty getting open shots for themselves.  Were I a coach for this team, I’d be sending video of Ray Allen getting open for shots; he’s one of the G.O.A.T at the jump shot, and it’s not a bad idea to study how he does it.

Whatever we do from here on out, we need to make decisions that keep the team consistent in shooting the ball from the floor.  If we can do that and play with some fire, we’re going to be a very difficult team to beat moving forward.

If we know anything about Boyle, of course, it’s that you can never keep him down.  The back injury he sustained at the end of his junior season is a career-killer for many players, but he fought back.  I expect him to do the same on the court.


  1. OneandOne

    December 14, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    Go Panthers- beat DePaul.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *