PORTSMOUTH – Different levels of competition doesn’t matter to Shawnee State men’s basketball head coach Delano Thomas. When he believes his team is better than their opponent, he thinks they should come out and play like it. In his opinion, they failed to live up to his own standards in their loss to NCAA Division II’s Lake Erie College on New Years’ Eve.
“That’s a game we should win,” said Thomas following the Bears loss to Lake Erie 76-67. “It’s not about them being a D2 opponent. Very good team, well coached. I thought they played better than us today. I still think my guys as a whole are better as a team, we just didn’t show up in some areas.”
Those areas Thomas is referring are mainly on the offensive end. By game’s end, Lake Erie had take 16 more shots than SSU, thanks in part to the 17-4 turnover to assist ratio the Bears recorded in their loss.
“If we eliminate our turnovers that lead to their transition points, eliminate their offensive rebounding, then it’s a completely different ball game. And that’s not just making some of our missed shots, they actually shot the ball 16 more times than we did. They’re putting themselves in more of a position to win that game than we did today.”
Shawnee was just 2/18 from behind the three point line in their loss, both of which came in the first half.
Sophomore EJ Onu had a dominating day on the defensive end for Shawnee State by finishing with seven blocks and two steals, despite the loss.
The three leading scorers for the Bears were guard Tamal Watkins who finished with a team high 19 points, Gio Jackson who contributed 15 off the bench from the guard position, as well as Juwan Grant who finished with 13.
“That’s one thing I’ve been waiting on since the beginning of the season,” said Watkins when discussing his, Grant’s, and Jackson’s play on Monday. “Talking with Gio (Jackson) before the game, he’s been practicing really hard and that’s something for everyone to keep an eye on in conference play.”
Shawnee begins their conference play this Saturday in a double header (men’s and women’s) to try and knock off a top 25 ranked University of Pikeville team.
“The physicality of this game is going to be similar to that of the UPike game,” said Thomas. “It’s going to be similar to that of the Mid-South. We’re going to have other team’s like Lake Erie come in here and try to win, UPike is going to come in and think they can win. We have to defend our home, play the style of play we like to play that way we can put ourselves in a position to be successful.”
SSU: 36-31 – 67
Lake Erie: 37-39 – 76
SSU: 24/57 FG, 2/18 3PT, 17/23 FT. 36 rebounds (4 offensive), 4 assists, 17 turnovers, 11 blocks, 6 steals. Scoring: Watkins 19, Jackson 15, Grant 13, Johnson 6, Onu 5, Byrd 5, Biakapia 4
Lake Erie: 29/73, 6/23 3PT, 12/21 FT.
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT