The Kansas State Wildcats (6-1, #74 kenpom ranking) take on the Coppin State Eagles in the Octagon; tipoff slated for 7:00pm CST in Bramlage Coliseum. The Wildcats are coming off their best win of the season - a tough-fought victory secured in the waning seconds of a road contest at Georgia.
And no, that's not a misprint! If you've been tracking Bring On The Cats through the week, you have seen that the Wildcats received ONE vote in the Coaches Top-25 Poll this week.
Know Your Opponent
Coming in to this matchup, Coppin State (2-6, #341), is making a legitimate case for the worst team in the country. Their only wins are over teams that aren't even amongst the ranks of Division I, have dropped two overtime losses at home, and are making a habit of getting trounced, losing to Eastern Kentucky by 27, Iowa by 35, and the ever-dangerous Norfolk State by 32. Collectively, they're giving up an average of nearly 85 points per game.
The Eagles are rocking a sub-300 ranking in adjusted offensive efficiency, adjusted defensive efficiency, offensive eFG%, defensive eFG%, putting opponents on the free throw line, 3PFG%, 2PFG%, 2PFG% defense, block %, and assists per FG. Amazingly, they're 11th in the country in adjusted tempo, mainly due to their inability to lengthen their opponents possessions. Put all these things together, and it's easy to see the Eagles not only lose convincingly, they do it in exciting fashion (for their opponents).
Meanwhile, K-State is putting together a pretty profile. They're above average in everything but eFG% and 3PFG% (which is a bit of a double-whammy) and defensive block %, including top-50 rankings in adjusted defensive efficiency, offensive rebound %, getting to the FT line, 3PFG% defense, and defensive steal %. If you've been watching the games, it should be obvious - but the Wildcats are a defense-first team that gets some easy buckets, knows they're not great at shooting, but overcomes it by getting to the charity stripe and creating more possessions.
Keep a close watch on:
Junior forward Terry Harris is a focal point of the offense, both seeing the ball on nearly 30% of the team's possessions as well as taking nearly 30% of the teams shots, each. He's averaging 12.4ppg, 8.4rpg, but only on 39% shooting, and is 3-of-22 from beyond the arc. How a frontcourt player that shoots poorly gets the opportunity to chuck that many threes up is...well, there's a reason they're not very good.
Junior guard James Sylvester and junior forward Joshua Treadwell is the best (most efficient) offensive players on the team, but both come off the bench in support. They're the only legitimate players that average over 40% from the floor, and Sylvester is currently shooting over 50% from beyond the arc (10 for 19 on the season).
Coppin State runs primarily man-to-man defense, but are relatively undersized. Our motion offense, especially looking at the pick-and-pop as well and backdoor cuts will be useful to speed possessions up and find some easy buckets. Figuratively, the Eagles can't keep a high school team from scoring consistently, so the only offensive limitation tonight is ourselves. Expect the Eagles to possibly switch things up and throw a zone at us, given our relatively poor outside shooting capabilities and the size advantage we have.
On the other end of the floor, expect a healthy dose of one-on-one and isolation play. K-State should switch up between straight man and matchup zone to continue to get work with both schemes, and really focus on using defense to create easy offensive opportunities. This game might present the opportunity to even work on other defensive sets, such as a true 3-2. Finally, look to see the Cats limit to one shot and strive to eliminate the offensive rebounding chances for the Eagles.
F Wesley Iwundu, 6-7 210 Jr
F Dean Wade, 6-10 225 Fr
F Stephen Hurt, 6-11 265 Sr
G Justin Edwards, 6-4 200 Sr
G Kamau Stokes, 6-0 170 Fr
Coppin State Eagles:
F Terry Harris, 6-8 205 Jr
F Keith Shivers, 6-4 195 Jr
F Jerimyjah Batts, 6-8 265 Jr
G Christian Kessee, 6-2 180 Jr
G Trevon Seymore, 6-4 170 Jr
3 Keys To The Game
1. Execute / Focus
The Coppin State Eagles are really...not...good. This is an execution game. We don't have to play "well", per se - we just need to execute. Run the offense, play solid defense, don't give up stupid rebounds, and it'll be a quick game. Well, it'll still be 40 minutes, but you get the point. Concentrate on focus and execution, and it will mitigate the oft-unavoidable "playing to your competition". Don't look ahead.
2. Control the boards
If we own the glass on both ends of the floor, there isn't a whole lot Coppin State is going to be able to do to win. Period.
3. Get the subs some PT
Everyone needs to play with the goal of getting the subs some floor time. Put the game away early, leave no doubt, and get some work in then rest. I'd like us to come out and be up 15 to 20 at half, continue to stretch it through the under-8 timeout in the second, then let the guys that practice hard but don't get to play much have a chance at the scorebook for the rest of the night.
All stats by http://www.kenpom.com, or by the respective university's sports information.