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The Rematch: Offensive Keys

 

If C.J. Shanklin can figure out how to operate around Raymond Spalding in the middle, St. X might just have enough offense to pull off an upset. | Photo by Kody Nalley

If C.J. Shanklin can figure out how to operate around Raymond Spalding in the middle, St. X might just have enough offense to pull off an upset. | Photo by Kody Nalley

Last Friday night, one team showed the state that it could hang with anybody. St. X gave the number one team in Kentucky everything it had and nearly knocked it off in Broadbent Arena. But in the end, it was Trinity that defeated the Tigers by a final line of 57-47. So with a rematch coming tomorrow, what can the Tigers do better on the offensive end? Lets take a deeper look at the ups and downs of the offense against its heated rival last week.

By no means am I a coach, nor do I know the personnel of the team as well as Coach Klein does, but there are some tweaks that can be made to the offense to put the team in a better position to win against heavyweights such as Trinity.

The Tigers came out firing in the first half, but shots were not falling for everybody. On a night where the defense shined brighter, the offense could have been on the same level had a few things not happened. Firstly, it is difficult to commit 8 turnovers and be in the game at halftime without playing stellar defense. Luckily, that’s exactly what the Tigers did and found themselves ahead by four at the break.

But besides the turnovers, the St. X offense relied heavily on one player. Ashanti Burgess was hotter than he’s ever been in the first half, and the Tigers kept going to him. That’s perfectly fine, but if no one else steps up to take a scoring role, it is eventually going to wear on Burgess and subsequently, the rest of the team. And that’s exactly what happened. Burgess shot a wildly impressive 71.4% from the field in the first half (58.3% for the game) and made 4-6 three pointers. None of those stats are undesirable, and he was the only bright spot for the Tigers offensively all night. If there are any bones to pick with his performance, it’s going 2-7 from the free throw line. But overall, you couldn’t ask for a much better game from the senior sharpshooter.

What you can ask for, however, is for someone else to step up and lighten the load for Burgess on offense. Lucas Miller was tasked with guarding Raymond Spalding, and having to guard an opponent seven inches taller than you is guaranteed to be physically taxing. With a fatigued Miller, St. X was down a primary scorer on the offensive end. That meant that someone needed to step up and score in the second half to help relieve Burgess. The Tigers only mustered 9 points in the third quarter and it was clear that Burgess was slowing down. He scored his final 5 points of the game in that quarter until the defense caught on to him and shut him down in the fourth quarter.

With Miller and Burgess both seemingly out of offensive gas, one would look to a Connor McKim or a C.J. Shanklin to get some buckets when the Tigers needed them most. Shanklin struggled with the defense from Spalding and often times found himself getting trapped after trying to dribble and get to the rack like he is accustomed to doing. Give the Trinity defense credit though, as they were suffocating in the paint. In the end, 8 points was simply not enough from the senior forward. I expect him to relax and find his shot a lot more easily in the rematch.

McKim had an off night, going 2-4  from the floor, 0-2 from behind the line and uncharacteristically not earning a trip to the charity stripe. I expect to see a lot more of the junior point guard in the rematch because of his pure ability to get to the basket and create. Every good player has bad outings.

Besides those key elements, the offense was not too terribly different than it has been all season. Like I said before, I don’t know if the Tigers could have played more inspired basketball on Friday night.

As for some more subtle tweaks, I look to the floor generals. Both McKim and Josh Rudy need to help communicate to their teammates to move without the ball. Basic ball screens, cutting and flashing, and sealing off the pick on a pick-and-roll situation can pay big dividends in finding easy buckets. It’s the fundamentals of motion without the basketball that the Tigers slipped up on a few occasions. Those mistakes are understandable on the big stage, but in the rematch, I would expect to see fine-tuned and clean offense from the Tigers.

Here are some stats that can be improved upon in my opinion:

– 6-14 from the free throw line as a team (43%)

-17 total turnovers

– only one player in double digits (Burgess, 20)

While those stats exist, there are some very encouraging stats for the Tigers to remember at the same time:

– 9-17 from 3pt. range (53%)

-Miller still managed to find 9 points on limited shooting

– 10 total assists

If the Tigers can replicate what they did on defense and make some minor adjustments to the offense, Kentucky’s number one team could very well taste defeat on Wednesday when these two squads are pitted against each other for the second time in less than a week.

Go Tigers. Beat the Rocks.

 

Tiger Basketball Season Stats on MaxPreps

Lucas Miller is leading the Tigers in scoring thus far, averaging 11.4 points per game. | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

Lucas Miller is leading the Tigers in scoring thus far, averaging 11.4 points per game. | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

Want to get more informed about what you will see on Friday night at Broadbent Arena? Then head on over to MaxPreps and check out the newly-updated season statistics for Saint Xavier Basketball.  You can see season averages for each player and check box scores from any game St. X has played this season.

You can check it out here, Tiger Nation, but I will give you some quick hitters now.

Leading Scorer: Lucas Miller (11.4 points per game)

Leading Rebounder: C.J. Shanklin (6.4 rebounds per game)

Leading Passer: Josh Rudy (3.2 assists per game)

You can continue to check MaxPreps throughout the season, as stats will be updated after each game the Tigers play.

Tiger Basketball Earns Solid Win in Season Opener

Ashanti Burgess and Josh Rudy finish pre-game rituals before tip-off Tuesday night against Central. | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

Ashanti Burgess and Josh Rudy finish pre-game rituals before tip-off Tuesday night against Central. | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

The Saint Xavier Basketball team kicked off the regular season Tuesday night against the Central Yellowjackets, and it was a squeaker amid a hostile road environment.

But the Tigers handled the pressure from the crowd and the Jackets very well, and perfect execution late in the game led St. X to a resounding 69-64 victory, making this their second consecutive victory in the season opener.

The team secured the victory with methodical, consistent ball movement and tremendous poise when the action heated up.  They didn’t need any flash or frills; St. X won by simply controlling what it could and taking advantage of every opportunity afforded.

With three new faces in the starting lineup, the final outcome of the game was anything but decided before tip-off.  Juniors Connor McKim and Will Olsen joined senior C.J. Shanklin as first timers in the lineup along with returning starters Ashanti Burgess and Lucas Miller.  After two losing efforts in preseason scrimmages versus Oldham County and Bowling Green, the Tigers were desperately hoping they could find a rhythm early.

St. X never really established a rhythm, but it didn’t phase McKim at all.  The point guard finished with 15 points on 1-5 shooting and 13-14 free throw shooting.  He got to the rim early and often and was money when he got there.  He wasn’t phased by a loud crowd on the road either, as he swished 6-6 shots at the charity stripe in the final 30 seconds of the game to put the nail in the coffin.

“I honestly felt great,” McKim said about his clutch free throws.  “I’ve thought about times like that a lot, on the road and needing to hit free throws to seal the game.  I was just thinking, ‘Take your time and win this game.'”

If you look at the box score, both Central and St. X looked very similar; both teams shot horribly from long range, both teams had a ton of turnovers, and both teams had almost the exact same rebound total.

But the Tigers routed the Jackets in one category: free throw shooting.  St. X had more than doubled the amount of attempts Central had, and the Tigers converted those extra scoring opportunities at an 85% team clip.  The difference in the game was the charity stripe.

The game started with a technical foul before tip-off for the third year in a row when Central was assessed a uniform violation for not wearing white jerseys as the home team.  McKim drained the two freebies to begin his eventful night at the line.

The first quarter was back-and-forth the whole way, and the score was knotted up at 16 after the buzzer sounded.

St. X controlled the second quarter on the shoulders of Olsen, who poured in 10 of his team-high 16 points.  Senior Tiger guard Josh Rudy turned the game around for the Tigers on a brilliant play early in the quarter.  He took an inbounds pass, broke Central’s full-court press, and picked up his dribble just after passing halfcourt.  He was immediately double-teamed, and just when it looked like he was going to turn it over on a five-second call, he whipped it across the court to Miller for a wide-open layup that gave the Tigers a big burst of energy.

St. X lead by 7 at halftime, but the Jackets turned the tables in the third period by holding the Tigers to just 7 points and tying the score at 47.

But McKim’s decisive play and Rudy’s deceptively-effective 20 minutes off the bench helped guide St. X the rest of the way.  Rudy only had 3 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and a steal, but he did not turn the ball over at all and brought a calming presence to the floor when the pressure was ratcheting up.

Shanklin started his first regular season game back after tearing his left ACL in a summer AAU game in during the summer of his junior year.  It will be especially tough for him to get back in the swing of things because not only is he adjusting to the feel of the game after being injured for a long time, but he also has to become accustomed to playing in the post when he is naturally a guard.

“It was hard getting back to the speed of a real game and also the atmosphere,” Shanklin explained.  “I was a little nervous at the beginning, but I started to adjust and get a good feel for the game again.  I didn’t really think about it being my first game back.”

Shanklin finished with 8 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals in 23 minutes of action in what was production that will almost surely increase as he grows more accustomed to his role.  He said he needs to work on being more aggressive and putting the ball on the floor going forward.

The Tigers now sit at 1-0 on the young season with their next game against district rival Collegiate.  That game will be St. X’s home opener, and it is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday night in the Bro. John Wills Arena.