The Shore looking to find winning formula vs. Tigers
SAVANNAH, Georgia -
The University of Maryland Eastern Shore needs a win and head coach Fred Batchelor thinks is coming sooner rather than later. From there, his squad will look to build toward where they want to become tournament time.
The Hawks (3-12, 0-3 MEAC) will face Savannah State (2-11, 02 MEAC) on Jan. 13 at 4 p.m. at Tiger Arena.
“This was a long trip and practice on Friday is very important to help get us focus on Saturday,” Batchelor said. “I think we need a win bad and that is where we are. We need it for a lot of reasons. I think the kids are hungry for one and I’d be surprised if we don’t play well or don’t play hard enough to be successful.”
Coming off a pair of games at home, this is the first of two road games as The Shore looks to find its shooting touch and make teams pay for the mistakes it is creating with solid defense.
“We haven’t played great and I’m not expecting us to play great basketball right now, but I’m expecting us to play hard enough to win on the road against a team that has had its struggles, but yet is always tough at home,” Batchelor said.
Eastern Shore took Tuesday off following a tough 55-48 home loss to Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference No. 1 Bethune-Cookman. But then went with two-a-day practices on Wednesday and Thursday before departing for the road trip.
“I think the fact that we had shot so poorly recently, that it was necessary that we get some more shots,” Batchelor said. “I think they understood that. It wasn’t a means to physically challenge them as much as it was to get sharper and to be a little bit more efficient and be effective shooting the basketball. I don’t know if it will make a difference on Saturday that we put up those extra shots, but I know it will make a difference in the long haul.”
The Hawks are shooting 40 percent from the field in conference play, but over those same three games hit 6-of-38 from behind the arc (16 percent) and 39-of-74 from the free throw line (53 percent). The squad missed 35 free throws over three games and lost those by a combined 25 points.
The Tigers play a lot of zone particularly a hybridized 2-3 zone and will likely force the Hawks to take and make outside shots to win.
‘It is important for us to be able to knock down perimeter shots because if I’m playing against us, then I’d zone us and force us to shoot from the outside,” Batchelor said. “I like our chances with numbers. I believe they end up balancing themselves out. If we had played three games where we shot the ball extremely well — pessimistically— I’d be expecting us to shoot poorly, so I’m optimistically expecting us to put the ball in the basket her on the road.”
The Lady Tigers have one of the youngest teams in the NCAA. SSU is tied for first with Fordham with 64.3 percent as freshmen and is tied for eighth with North Carolina with 71.4 percent as underclassmen. Savannah State’s newcomers have accounted for 94.7 percent of the points and 94.7 percent of the rebounds this season.
But Batchelor isn’t focused on who on the Tigers can hurt his team, but rather how his team is going to respond to this early adversity.
“I think the biggest thing is us,” Batchelor. “I think we’ve been playing against us. I think even that last three games we have played it’s been more about us than our opponents. I thought we have done a great job defensively. We held the defending conference champion to 55 points (averaging 65). I like what we are doing defensively. We just have to take advantage of the opportunities we create.”
The Hawks were strong on the inside last time out outscoring the Wildcats 20-10 in the paint. Graduate transfer Jordyn Smith (Durham, North Carolina) led the Hawks with 13 points to go with four rebounds, while senior center Tori Morris (Herndon, Virginia) added 12 points and pulled down seven rebounds. Freshman Bairesha Gill-Miles (Lexington, Kentucky) grabbed nine boards. The Hawks are outrebounding opponents 76-72 in conference play despite being outrebounded at Morgan State.
“Morgan has a lot of player like our players and I think we just weren’t ready for that,” Batchelor said. “After that, I looked at the stats and we outrebounded Hampton and Bethune. To me, there are things we didn’t do well in each of those games that hurt us and against Bethune we beat ourselves more than anything by only scoring six points in the fourth quarter.
“I’m hoping we figure out ways to win basketball teams as opposed to figuring out ways to lose.”
Ciani Byrom (Winston-Salem, North Carolina) leads the team in scoring since conference play began with 11 points a game, while Smith is second (9.7 ppg) and Morris is third (8.0 ppg).
Dominique Walker (Bel Air, Maryland) did not make the trip due to an injury after starting her first game as a Hawk against Bethune-Cookman.
After Savannah State, the Hawks will travel to Orangeburg for a Monday (Jan. 15) meeting at South Carolina State.
For more information on Eastern Shore Athletics visit http://www.easternshorehawks.com/.
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