Pilots Propaganda: Week 2
November 17, 2008PILOTS ENTER UNCHARTERED WATERS AFTER SLOW START
If you were to ask LSUS basketball fans when the last time the Pilots had a losing record was, the odds are you would not get a prompt response. You would have to flip through the archives all the way back to January 26, 2004, when the Pilots dropped a 74-69 decision to Gulf Coast Athletic Conference rival Spring Hill College to fall to 9-10 overall at that point of the year.
And if you were to ask when the last time the Pilots were on the losing end of three consecutive games was? Well, believe it or not, this weeks 0-3 stint marks the first time Coach McDowell’s squad has ever found themselves on such a streak. As a matter of fact, the January 26, 2004 contest against SHC marks the last time the Pilots lost two consecutive regular season contests, a feat that has only occurred three times since the reinstatement of the program in 2003.
The current Pilots tailspin began after watching a 17-point second half lead evaporate Tuesday night at The Dock. 21-turnovers and a 9-of-27 (33.3%) shooting performance in the second half proved to be the difference as the Jarvis Christian Bulldogs (3-1) handed the stunned Pilots squad their first loss of the season.
After suffering the rare loss at home, the Pilots took to the road to square off against Southern States Athletic Conference Championship contenders Faulkner University Eagles and Auburn University-Montgomery Senators in the Jimmy Faulkner Classic.
Tuesday nights second half shooting woes carried over to the Classic opener as the Pilots connected on just 7-of-34 (25%) from the floor in the first half, but only trailed the Eagles 26-24 at the break.
Any adjustments the Pilots tried to make at the break were denied by yet another dismal shooting performance in the second half which contributed to the worst offensive performance in Pilots history. LSUS shot a combined 23% from the field which included a 4-of-27 (14%) performance from beyond the arc while finishing just 14-of-22 (63%) from the charity stripe.
Pilots leading scorer Tyrone Hamilton and point guard Jared Stevenson shot a combined 4-for-34 from the field and tallied a total of 23-points.
Despite committing just nine turnovers in the contest, the Pilots were uncharacteristically outrebounded 51-38; a stat that was accomplished by Pilots opponents only twice in 34 games throughout 2007-2008.
LSUS looked to salvage the all important road swing with a win against the 21st-Ranked Senators Saturday afternoon. LSUS led 56-53 with 9:00 remaining in the second half, but, the two teams traded leads down the stretch before the Pilots found themselves trailing 68-67 with 3:15 remaining after Hamilton connected on an old-fashioned three-point play.
For the third time in as many nights however the Pilots struggled down the stretch and were held scoreless over the next 2:30 until freshman Derrick Parker connected from the field with 0:43 remaining. Despite a crucial LSUS turnover in the final seconds, the Pilots still managed a three-point attempt at the buzzer to tie the game at 73-73, but a fade away attempt from Chris Gatlin banged off the iron sending the Pilots back home to Shreveport wondering what they have to do to get this season turned around.
The entire nation keeps close tabs on the three-time GCAC Champions and four-time NAIA National Tournament selection. And at 1-3, the entire GCAC may be breathing a sigh of relief at the appearance of what could possibly be a changing of the guard in 2008-2009.
Or so they hope.
As an outsider looking in, keep in mind I viewed the Pilots road games in Montgomery via Dakstats Webcast, I feel as though the Pilots hold the cure to their current losing curse.
It would be easy to point the Pilots problems on their current depth issue, suiting out only eight eligible players throughout the first four games of the season. I do believe that would play a role over the course of a 30 game schedule, but not yet.
To keep it simple, I believe the Pilots have yet to define who they are as a team. They are being outscored, out-hustled, and out-worked on the boards. All three characteristics have been a huge part of the recipe for success in the past.
Over the past four games, the Pilots have been outrebounded 120-105 and their post players have accounted for just over 25% (82-of-311 total points) of their offensive output.
The lone bright spot in the post however has been Parker, averaging just under a double-double per contest with 13.0-points and 9.8-rebounds. An amazing stat line considering he is still treading the waters as a freshman forward.
Improved play and action in the paint could open up the floor for the Pilots shooting guards who have also struggled from the field of late. After a 44-point outburst in his Pilots debut, Hamilton has connected on just 15-of-60 (25%) attempts from the field including making just 5-of-27 from beyond the arc after a 7-for-14 performance on opening night. He has found success getting to the free-throw line which has kept his points per game among the NAIA scoring leaders at 25.8 points per game.
All in all, I believe the 1-3 start could be a blessing in disguise for the Pilots. Their character and attitude has been tested early and they have a lot of work to do to fulfill some very high expectations. There is no doubt in my mind knowing the character of their leader and Head Coach Chad McDowell they will overcome the early season struggles and will be in the hunt for their 4th-Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Championship and their 5th-NAIA National Tournament appearance.
The Pilots first step towards righting the ship begins Wednesday night in Marshall, TX as they will take on Wiley College who received votes in the 2008 pre-season Top-25 poll. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30pm.
In the mean time, and in between time, that’s it for this week’s edition Pilots Propaganda.
The views and material in this column reflect the attitude and opinions of Al Cantwell. The selection was written by Al Cantwell, an outside friend and fan of the LSUS Men’s Basketball Program and Athletics Department. Please direct any comments to Al Cantwell at the email address listed above.