MAHOMET — Ryan Bosch and the Bulldogs are off to a rocky start. The Bulldogs went 1-3 down at the Lincoln/Eaton Round Robin Tournament.
Here are three takeaways from the tournament.
Shooting woes plague the Bulldogs
Sometimes, it’s hard for teams to start the season white-hot. We have to allow for a transition period. But after four games, the Bulldogs certainly have to be concerned with their ice-cold shooting. Let’s take a look at just the raw numbers.
Against Centennial, the Bulldogs shot 17-of-44 (38%) from the floor and 4-of-12 from beyond the arc.
Against Limestone, M-S was 18-for-57 (31%) from the field and 3-for-13 from three.
Against Danville, M-S was 18-for-59 (30%) and 4-of-20 from three-point land.
Against Belleville Althoff, the Bulldogs finished 12-of-45 from the field (26%) and just 1-of-12 from beyond the arc.
Those numbers aren’t pretty.
Four of the Bulldogs’ five starters played a lot of varsity minutes last year, and these shooting numbers aren’t that different from the previous season. M-S was getting pretty good looks — they just weren’t able to knock them down.
M-S played against some high-level competition at the Lincoln tournament, so the Bulldogs will need to start knocking down some shots if they want to create separation and open up the floor.
The Bulldogs are just shooting 21 percent from three as a team. That’s just not good enough right now.
It’s way too early to jump to conclusions. Part of it could just be that it’s the early season. Part of it could be that the Bulldogs went up against some good defenses. But if the shooting woes continue, Bosch and the coaching staff will have to get creative in order to generate offense.
Bulldogs defense forcing turnovers
In the final three games of the Lincoln Tourney, M-S forced 42 turnovers. That’ll absolutely play. Limestone had 21 turnovers against the M-S defense and that was a big reason why the Bulldogs pulled away for their first win of the season.
M-S did a good job limiting Danville star Tevin Smith to just 11 points on 11 shots, but they also forced Danville into 10 turnovers. In the final game against Belleville Althoff, the Bulldogs’ defense generated 11 turnovers.
The Bulldogs’ strong commitment to defense will certainly pay off down the road, and their roster has a chance to be really good defensively.
Grant Coleman is so long and has really good instincts. Kobe Essien doesn’t make a ton of mistakes defensively, and his length helped him swipe a couple steals against Danville.
Cole Lener and Braden Finch are both dogged defenders who aren’t afraid to get up in your grill and shut you down. Zach Carr is a versatile defender too.
Plus, Bosch has proven that he’s a really good defensive mind. The Bulldogs’ identity will be their defense. They proved that in the season-opening tournament.
Offensive rebounding could be sneaky key to the season
If the Bulldogs continue to struggle with their shooting, it’ll be pivotal for M-S to dominate the offensive glass. They did that against Danville. Even though M-S shot just barely over 30 percent from the field, they were able to corral 20 offensive rebounds.
Those extra chances kept them in the game. Lener had five offensive rebounds. Coleman and Carr both had four, and Essien had three of his own. Eli Warren and Finch both had a pair of offensive rebounds.
M-S also had 14 offensive rebounds in the win over Limestone, and Essien had five of the Bulldogs’ eight offensive rebounds in the loss to Belleville Althoff.
With the length that M-S can trot out onto the floor, the Bulldogs should be a very solid rebounding team. They showed a little of what they can do at Lincoln. Now, it’s time to build off it and flex on the rest of the Apollo Conference.