Jostling the Jaguars

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The Appalachian Online

Lee Sanderlin

Finding Looks for Bennett Holley

This seems crazy, but Bennett Holley might be the best shooter on the team. So far this season the freshman is shooting nearly 47 percent from 3-point range in limited action. He’s also nearly impossible to guard in a league like the Sun Belt. Holley just so happens to be a 6-foot-8 power forward and I sincerely doubt that there’s a large stable of power forwards in the Sun Belt that have the skill and the motor to guard a stretch-4 on a team that already contains matchup nightmares in Ronshad Shabazz and Frank Eaves. Holley has seen an increase in playing time lately, playing in 32 percent of all available minutes at the power forward slot. Should Holley get some touches and unleash his sweet shooting stroke against the Jaguars, the Mountaineers will be nearly impossible to contain on offense.

Force Turnovers

This may seem obvious, but South Alabama is just as adept at turning the ball over as Appalachian State is, turning the ball over 21.1 percent of the time that they have it. Appalachian State is a team that seems to thrive in the limited transition opportunities they get, so if they can force turnovers against a Jaguar team that gets careless with the basketball, the offense should come much easier and points won’t be at a premium. However, in order to capitalize on South Alabama’s turnover problems, the Mountaineers themselves have to hold onto the ball, something they’ve struggled to do in every game this year, or else their advantage will be neutralized.

Crash That Glass

Appalachian State averages 36 rebounds a game, while South Alabama averages 37.4 a game. Due to the nearly identical numbers, this seems to be one of the more important figures in the final box score. Should the Mountaineers find a way to significantly outwork South Alabama on the glass, holding at least a five rebound advantage, it would make things much easier on the Mountaineers, giving them a few more possessions that may prove vital with all the close games the teams has played so far this season. Appalachian State certainly has big men with all the right tools to clean up on the glass, it’s a matter of actually getting the job done that has been this teams weakness this season.

Attack, Attack, Attack

It is no secret that Jim Fox’s team loves shooting the 3-ball. Nearly 40 percent of the team’s shots come from behind the arc in a given game. While the Mountaineers knock them down at a great clip, nearly 37 percent as a team, they can’t become one dimensional in their offense. The offense needs to get to the rim early and often, forcing the Jaguar defense to respect the Appalachian’s ability to attack the paint which should ease up pressure on the perimeter. One of the Mountaineers’ biggest weaknesses this season has been their tendency to shy away from attacking the basket in close games in exchange for hoisting up a 3-point shot. If the Apps can force the Jaguars to respect their ability to get to the rim, the offense will see more balance and should flow better as a unit compared to games past, giving the team an excellent chance to win.

Story by: Lee Sanderlin, Associate Sports Editor