Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Friday, December 16, 2016

2016-17 CU vs Ft Hays St Basketball Teaser

Now comes the point of the basketball year where I get to pretend to know anything about a DII school. Let's be honest - and I like to be honest in this little corner of the internet - I haven't seen the Ft Hays State Tigers play this year.  Hell, I've only even heard of one of the opponents on their schedule to-date, the Colorado Mines Orediggers, let alone having seen any of them play.  I'm coming into this one blind as a bat, just as you are.

But, as you well know by this point, our own Derrick White started at the DII level, so the assumption I'm working off is that there must be some other capable players hooping among those ranks. As such, it wouldn't pay to just blithely chalk this one up as a win and move on.  No, I know that on any given Saturday, this game can bite you in the ass, so here I go delving into the stat sheets and media guides of the Sunflower State's third-largest university.
They got a head coach and everything, guys!  From: the Great Bend Post
Now... let's see here... clicking on the 'media guide' link on the FHSU webpage only brings up last year's document.  Not very helpful.  The team is coached by... Mark Johnson?!?  Like "Touchdown! Touchdown, Colorado!" Mark Johnson? "Right between the eyes!" Mark Johnson?  That doesn't seem very fair to me... oh, nevermind. Different dude. This MJ has been coaching at Ft Hays for 16 seasons, which is just crazy.  Over that period, he has set the school record for wins with 311, and led the Tigers to seven Tournament appearances and nine 20-win seasons.  That's a record you can be proud of, even at a small school.

In addition to a page that accurately lists their head coach and his accomplishments, their website also features a stat sheet that seems to be updated, so bully for me.  The Tigers are 7-4 this year, and some quick math shows them getting about 1.17 points per possession on about 67 possessions per night. Extrapolate that out, and they pump in just shy of 80 points per game, shooting near 50% from the floor and 43% from three.  Not too shabby.  This is a team that likes to see the ball go through the hoop, and all but one of their losses this season have come while they couldn't crack the 70-point barrier.  Stopping their dynamic shooting will be imperative... I would assume.  Again, never seen any film on them.

The key talent seems to be lead guard Rob Davis.  The 5-11 spark plug from Detroit leads the team in scoring with 24 per contest, and is shooting over 56% from beyond the arc.  You read that right, fifty-six percent.  The senior was All-Conference last season (Which conference? The Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association, duh.) and is the kind of shooter you lose sleep over.  He already has three games of at least 30 points this year, and usually takes at least five threes each game -- only Washburn has kept Davis without a long-range attempt this season.  Sure, he's under-sized, but Rob will give CU fits outside on Saturday.
Davis is an excellent, willing shooter.  From: FHSU Athletics.
Out on the wing, swing forward Hadley Gillum has some interesting numbers, as well.  A Hays-area local, the junior from Plainville, KS is averaging 14/6 this season, and has the second-most rebounds on the team. He'll be up against it in this one, though, as the 6-5 Gillum will be looking to rebound against bigger, more athletic forwards in Wes Gordon, Xavier Johnson, and Tory Miller.  On that note, their best post player is 6-9 center JaQuan Smith, who spent some time on a D-I roster last season with Stephen F. Austin.  He's tenacious on the offensive glass with a ORB% over 17% this year.  The Buffs can't afford to give him second looks to kick out to Davis on the edge.

Overall, it's about what you'd expect.  The roster is a little undersized, and Colorado should be able to get what shot they want, when they want it.  The only thing that gives me pause is some of the offensive efficiency numbers I see, particularly in regards to Davis.  If he gets his, and Colorado struggles with their own shooting performance, this could be uglier than most fans are expecting. Ultimately, though, no reason to predict or fear the disastrous -- Colorado should win walking away. Time for Mitch Lombard and Josh Repine to shine.


Tip-off from the CEC is set for high noon on Saturday.  It's going to COLD for the game, and I'm not expecting a whole lot of people will brave the frigid temps to watch Colorado take on a D-II squad. If you do make it up to campus, however, you can consider yourself a true fan.  For those unwilling to cut through the elements, coverage can be found on Pac-12 Networks, with the real Mark Johnson on 850 KOA with the radio call.


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