Hoops Preview: Sam Houston State

Get opponent strengths, weaknesses and the keys to the game from Inside Texas Basketball Coaches Corner moderator Tim Preston.
Hoops Preview: Sam Houston StateDate: Tuesday, November 23Time: 7:00 CentralTelevision: Longhorn Network (FSSW)Location: Austin, TexasOpponent Strengths: Sam Houston State is coming off one of the best season’s in school history where they won both the regular season and postseason Southland Conference Championships culminating in a 9 point loss to Baylor in the NCAA First Round. The Bearkats were so successful that their coach, Bob Marlin, was hired away by UL-L. Marlin was then replaced by his top assistant at SHSU, Jason Hooten, leaving SHSU needing to replace their coach and three of their top five scorers. Even so, there is a culture of winning in Huntsville that can’t be overlooked for a program of SHSU’s size.Ball Movement. SHSU is a very unselfish team that will spread the floor on offense and make you defend the entire half court. The Bearkats have five players averaging at least two assists per game (highlighted by Drae Murray’s 7.5/game and Josten Crow’s 5.5/game).Rebounding. SHSU does a great job of getting rebounds from their entire squad. Coach Hooten has openly stated that his team’s focus will be predicated on being a strong rebounding team and the Bearkats have the ability to accomplish that with their length and athleticism.Team Defense. SHSU will pressure you in the halfcourt and does a nice job of swarming the ball in an effort to speed up the game. Through two games, they are allowing opponents to shoot only 27% overall, a staggering number.SHSU looks to be lead by 6’8” Senior Forward Gilberto Clavell. A Southland Conference Player of the Year candidate, Clavell is terrific around the basket and in the mid range. So far into this season, Clavell is averaging 17.5 ppg and 8.5 rpg. Gilberto is a player that will challenge Thompson with his motor and tenacity.Josten Crow is another player that brings lots of toughness and energy to the Bearkats. The 6’4”Senior Wing Forward from Houston (Westfield HS) is a do it all player averaging 16.0 points, 10 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game. The Bearkats emotional leader, Crow is a player that will attack the rim both in transition and in the half court allowing him to get to the free throw line where he is a capable, if not great, 69%.Opponent Weakness: Turnovers. Even as SHSU works hard to have good ball movement, they also struggle mightily with ball control, averaging 19.5 turnovers/game. While this factors into SHSU’s preferred style of up tempo basketball, their inefficiency with ball handling is a major concern for an offense that needs to score to remain in games.Shooting. Both from the perimeter (27% as a team) and at the free throw line (50% as a team). They shoot a particularly low percentage from both especially considering how often they shoot it from three (51 attempts in two games). Texas Keys: OffenseAnother game that fits into our offensive preference just about perfectly, Texas will gladly look to reciprocate SHSU’s willingness to play an up tempo style of basketball. It will be important, however, to show much better lane integrity in transition than we did against both Illinois and Pitt where we showed a tendency to stuff the paint with two or three players making us much easier to defend.Cory Joseph. Texas needs for him to break out and this is a game that should give that opportunity. The Longhorns need to facilitate chances for him in the halfcourt with weakside looks out of the post/skip passes and as a catch and shoot guy off of screens. Texas won’t have problems scoring against SHSU and getting Cory going should be priority number one.Texas Keys: DefenseAwareness. The Longhorns can’t get lulled to sleep because this is a Bearkat team that can score in bunches and is capable of getting into streaks from the perimeter. There needs to be an air of superiority to the way that Texas plays as young teams are not above struggling with lesser squads, defensively. Make no mistake, SHSU is a talented team that plays a style conducive to putting up numbers. Texas must not play with complacency and needs to look to dominate an overmatched SHSU team.Rebounding. While Texas enjoys a clear talent advantage, they are not deep enough to overcome the loss of some players (Thompson, Johnson, Hamilton). If SHSU is able to create second chance opportunities, it could cause foul trouble which would give the game a chance of being much closer than it should be. Initially, we need to rebound the ball well defensively. And, should we give up offensive rebounds, we must not be foul prone and also need to close out on shooters in breakdown situations (something we did poorly in New York).The EndgameThe great part about playing well in MSG was that we got a glimpse at just how gifted this team has a chance to be. The bad part is that everybody saw those games and we will, once again, have a target on our backs and will be receiving everybody’s best shot. This is a gifted team, but young teams struggle with consistency. It’s just reality.SHSU can play. They’re once again the favorite in the Southland and they will have a chance to upset somebody in March because of their length, their style of play, and Clavell.Still, look for Texas to exhibit dominance over an outclassed Bearkat squad. Big games by Thompson, Johnson and Hamilton look likely.Prediction: Texas 93 – Sam Houston 65Projected Starting LineupJosephBalbayHamiltonJohnsonThompson