Thursday, November 16, 2006

Previewing Delaware State

Kyle Whelliston tells us:

Last year's Hornets milked every possible second out of the 35-second clock, averaging a mere 58 possessions per game (11 short of the national median). Only four teams played at slower rates, all of which were proponents of Princeton's slowdown system.

But DSU coach Greg Jackson is no Tigerball evangelist. There are no backdoor cuts or centers-as-point-guards here.

The Hornets were a unanimous pick to win the MEAC in 2007, and not only do they return all five starters, they've also added Cincinnati transfer Roy Bright. Despite the returning experience, however, Delaware State is not deep; only seven guys logged more than 10 minutes against Pittsburgh (also note the %Min column in the scouting report linked below).

Scouting Report
2005-2006 Season Stats

Delaware State Offense 2005-2006
Four FactorsPercentNat'l Rank
Turnover Rate21.1158
Off Reb Rate31.7183

This is a perimeter-oriented team--37.2% of their field goal attempts last season were threes. Half of their attempts against Pittsburgh were threes. It's not a great shooting team, but if we don't tighten our perimeter defense, they are plenty capable of taking us to the wire.

Outside of Jahsha Bluntt--the team's star and the leader of the offense--Delaware State's shots were evenly distributed among the regulars.

FGA 2005-06:

1.) Bluntt* -- 400
2.) Worley -- 236
3.) Shine* -- 231
4.) Dickens* -- 208
5.) Fleetwood* -- 188
6.) Roundtree* -- 125

[* = starters in 05-06]

Expected Starters Against NC State:

Darrin Shine (5-9, 170) -- Second team all-conference selection, Shine had a 1.6:1 assist:turnover ratio last season while turning the ball over on 27% of his possessions. A little high, that turnover rate, but bearable. Judging by his Assist Rate and %Shots (see scouting report), he is a pass-first point guard.

Jahsha Bluntt (6-6, 220) -- The reigning conference player of the year. He's deadly from behind the arc (180-451 (.399) over the last two seasons) and that's where most of his shots will come from. He won't get to the line much, nor is he anything special as a rebounder, thanks to that tendency to shoot from outside.

Roy Bright (6-6, 225) -- A bit of an unknown since he didn't play much at Cincinnati. Scored 25 points in the opener against St. Paul's College (Div-II) but was limited to two points in 27 minutes by Pittsburgh.

Troy Roundtree (6-5, 225) -- Shouldn't be too big of a factor in DSU's offense; he only took 14% of the team's shots while on the court last season and his usage was the lowest of the regulars. He's turnover prone, and though he gets to the line at a good rate, he is not a good free throw shooter. Not a perimeter threat.

Aaron Fleetwood (6-9, 210) -- He only took the occasional three last season--which was good because his 3FG% was lousy--but he attempted eight threes against Pittsburgh (making two). Perhaps he thinks he's added range to his jumper, or, perhaps more likely, he was frustrated by the presence of Aaron Gray in the post. He's a totally unremarkable rebounder but will block some shots. Expect him to be the third option behind Bluntt and Bright.


Elyon Bush (6-7, 175) and Charlie Bell (measurables unknown; thanks, DSU athletics website!) will come off the bench. Joe Dickens (6-7, 195) is the fifth returning starter from a year ago, but he's academically ineligible for the first semester. Assorted others will grab a few minutes here and there.

Delaware State Defense 2005-2006
Four FactorsPercentNat'l Rank
Turnover Rate26.76
Off Reb Rate36.3299

Delaware State's interior defense was extremely weak last season. DSU allowed opponents to shoot 52% from inside the arc, good enough to rank the Hornets 292nd in the nation in that category. Making matters worse, they allowed their opponents to grab a lot of offensive rebounds. It's pretty clear what the Pack's gameplan is, then, isn't it? Pound it, pound it, pound it. This is a small team and it is a thin team. We will get good looks by going inside and we can force them to go deeper into the bench than they want to by drawing fouls.

The keys:

1.) Pound it, as mentioned. Feed Big Ben til his stomach hurts, then feed him some more. Easier said than done if the Hornets play a lot of zone.
2.) Put someone in Jahsha Bluntt's back pocket. He's one of those guys who can have a 6-8 night from beyond the arc and single-handedly drive the Hornets to an upset. Our perimeter defense must be better.
3.) Protect the ball. Fewer turnovers means more shots against DSU's bad FG% defense.