Analysis: 3 things that standout for men’s basketball

Blake Faith, Men's Basketball Reporter

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The Daily Eastern News
Dillan Schorfheide | The Daily Eastern News
Junior guard Deang Deang defends the ball handler in Eastern’s 114-61 win agaisnt Indiana Northwest on Nov. 18 at Lantz Arena.

The men’s basketball team began their season with a 4-3 record. The season has just started, but there are three points from looking at the statistics and data that Eastern has done well and if continued at their current pace can improve their winning record and chances of being a serious contender in the OVC.

1.Assists make a successful offense.

In three of their four wins the Panthers have high numbers in assists. Inside of those wins the Panthers outscored their opponents by 30 points or more in each win. In the postgame interviews junior Mack Smith when asked about the team’s chemistry has said the time the team spends together off the court and their strong bond attributes to the assist numbers and giving their teammates chances to score.

As a team, the Panthers have recorded 124 assists so far this season. Two key factors in the assists for this team have been the playmaking and floor general abilities of juniors Marvin Johnson and Deang Deang. Both average over three assists per game and handle the ball most of the time for the Panther offense. As the season progresses both players will be key components in the offensive production.

2.Defense wins championships and leads to offense.

The day of Eastern’s game against Texas Tech, returning leader in blocks Rade Kukobat informed the team that he was transferring from the program and would not play this season. The Panther defense has flourished so far despite his absence.

Defensively the Panthers have made their opponents work to make shots and score. The Panthers have held their opponents three point field goal percentage to 27.3 percent and overall field goal percentage to 38.8 percent. The Panthers have also recorded 59 steals and 22 blocks so far this season.

The same two players offensively are also making a difference on defense particularly in steals. Deang and Johnson both lead the Panthers in steals and use that to their advantage on the offensive side of the court. Both when making their defense count can turn it into a fastbreak or scoring opportunity for the Panthers resulting in higher assist numbers and higher point totals.

Deang also has become the defensive floor general for the Panthers. Deang’s evident intensity and defensive harassment style are evident on the basketball court in his numbers and the way he plays. Deang harrasses the ball handlers, has quick hands, deflects passes, and he uses all of that to lead and inspire his teammates on defense. 

3. Mack Smith’s three-point shooting.

Smith has made a three-pointer in 56 consecutive games that leads the NCAA. Smith’s three point field goal percentage is currently 39.5% on the season.

Smith’s three point shooting is consistent when he is relied upon. In three of the Panthers’ four wins Smith has made three or more three-pointers. His ability to relocate to the three point line and not settle for his shots are evident in his percentage and on the scoreboard for the Panthers.

Currently as a team the Panthers are shooting 34% from the three-point line. Smith’s early shooting consistency if continued will give the Panther offense another key offensive weapon come conference play. 

Blake Faith can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]