Davis now ranks amongst SIUE elite
Southern Illinois-Edwardsville (3-7) now has a new top ten scorer’s list entrant. En route to smacking Chicago State (3-11), 63-38, Kris Davis climbed into tenth scoring all-time for SIUE Cougars.
“I did not know that until you told me,” said Davis. “I am just trying to put the team first. I knew of when my 1,000 point milestone passed, but I try not to pay attention to it, when you are not winning. As long as we are winning, wherever I fall on the scoring list is fine with me.”
SIU-E and Chicago State tussled early, but the Cougars proved to be the alpha competitor with strong defensive stands.
The SIUE defense was impressive and consistent, forcing a majority of the 25 turnovers by CSU, resulting in 19 points on transition baskets. They guarded man to man, and coaxed Chicago State into several charges.
“We took pride in it,” said Davis. “Our coach says all the time to rely on help-defense second. Guard your man; do not let him score. If you get beat, then we have guys that will help you. Just take pride in your defense. Offense second, defense first. Defense wins championships.”
Offensively, SIUE demonstrated how to beat a 2-3 zone defense. SIUE scored often on crisp passing around the perimeter and accurate cross court passes. The dribble drives lead to open shooters.
Rozell Nunn and Jake Newton scored from the perimeter for SIUE, each finishing with three triples. Their shot selection was outstanding, aided by a Chicago State defense that would not respect any three point shot attempt all game.
Nunn finished the game with 15 points, eight rebounds, two assists, three steals, and a game-high five turnovers. His three steals all occurred in the first half, providing the transition pressure that had Chicago State reeling on defense.
Michael Messer came up strong for SIUE on the night. He scored 15 points, two rebounds, one turnover, and one steal. He knew how to get low post position and hunt down the passes.
Spreading the burden
Entering the game Davis was playing over 34 minutes per. Coach Forrester would like to get that number down and offer more PT to more guys.
“They understand our system better and playing in a way that I need them to play, for us to have some success,” said Coach Forrester. “I was trying to get guys some rest. I thought in our first seven or eight games of the season, I thought that Kris Davis and Donivine Stewart just played too many minutes for us. You cannot play like that at the Division I level, have a long year, and expect to be successful.”
Donivine Stewart earned seven assists, four turnovers, three rebounds and one point in 30 minutes of play. While this is not a normal outcome for him in terms of points scored, his vision on the court made for easy baskets by his team members. The short breathers each half helped him to make smart passes.
“Even at Saturday’s game, we were doing a great job of substituting to where now, in the second half, when they really had to play a longer stretch, they were at least fresh,” said Coach Forrester. “They were not so tired that they couldn’t capitalize on things. My goal is to try to get them as much rest as possible, early in the first half, early in the second half, and then just see what it comes down to during the second half.”
Free does not mean certain
Blowout wins generally allow coaches to relax postgame. The sizable victory typically proves the team has ironed out most wrinkles. Unfortunately, Coach Forrester still has reason for concern.
The free throws.
SIUE did themselves no favors at the free throw line, sinking only 19 of their 35 attempts.
“I think it’s a part of the mental toughness that I challenged them after coming back from Campbell,” said Coach Forrester. “At Campbell, we had cut the lead to four, and Kris Davis stepped up to the line with about 17 seconds to go and missed both free throws. If you make those two free throws, then you are probably going to foul and do some things (to win.)”
Facing Chicago State the free throws were not imperative though they still missed the target.
“That is something that we have got to do a better job of,” said Coach Forrester. “We cannot afford to get to the line 35 times like we did tonight and only make 19 of them. That is just a terrible percentage. If the game was closer, we probably would have come up on the other (losing) end, rather than winning.”
Unfortunately, this situation is not new for SIUE.
It is safe to say that if SIUE comes across another 2-3 zone, they have the experience to handle it deftly, as long as they can finish from the free throw line.