Puma power

My preview of USI’s men’s basketball game with Saint Joseph’s College — leading with a short feature on Eagles backup guard and emerging defensive whiz Ben Jones — is here. The Pumas shouldn’t be a difficult team to beat Thursday night. They’ve lost four of their last five games, including 76-69 at home to Cedarville, a team the Eagles beat at home 72-61.

But there are indications that the game may not be so easy. Although St. Joe lost 70-48 at Drury, it held Drury to 39.3 percent field-goal shooting. The Pumas also rank third in field-goal percentage defense in Great Lakes Valley Conference games, at 41.1 percent. Also bear in mind that USI has shot over 43 percent only once over its last five games, and its last two games it shot 40.3 percent and 36.2 percent from the field.

I keep throwing out all these numbers in these blog posts because they can be good indicators of what to expect in games. At this point in the season there’s not much teams can do to change how they play unless they have multiple injuries (and at that point they’re pretty much doomed). It’s better to tweak what you do, maybe throw in a few wrinkles (to mix metaphors), to keep an opponent guessing. One thing coaches do seem to mess with is their defense, perhaps switching from a man-to-man to a zone as their primary defense. But, in the end, what a team has done over its previous 12 games is a pretty good indicator what it’s going to do over its next 12. The main thing is to do what you do well consistently while reducing (or hiding) what you do poorly.

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