Passing will be key for Husky men’s basketball in NSIC tournament

The St. Cloud State men’s basketball team has struggled a little more this year than in recent seasons. Coming into the final weekend of regular season play, the team is 12-14 on the year and 9-11 in NSIC contests.

They currently sit in the #5 seed in the NSIC North Division and trail Northern State, Minnesota Duluth, and the University of Mary by two games for a first-round home playoff seed.

Part of this season’s struggle is due to the fact that the they are a young team still trying to find its identity (they have three seniors and of them, only Eddie Alcantara plays on a regular basis).

Another struggle is that the Huskies have had to adjust the way they play as a team this year. A large recruiting class along with returning redshirts led to eight players seeing court time this year that didn’t make it on the floor last year. It takes a little bit of time to get sufficient on-court chemistry with all the new teammates. As a result, the Huskies struggled early on, losing their first three games of the year.

However, with the playoffs looming, now is not the time for excuses. This is the time of year when the team needs to be playing at the top of their game. In this article, I will point out a few different improvements that will be key for Husky success heading into the post-season.

Now, any sports reporter worth his or her salt knows that this team (and most teams for that matter) goes as their shooting does. When the Huskies score 93+ points in a game, they are 7-0 this season. When, as a team, they hit over 50% of their shots they are also 7-0. However, when they shoot under 45% from the field they are 1-10. The team is shooting an average of 47% from the field this season.

However, one thing some fans may not know is that the Huskies’ fortune is even more dependent on their passing than their shooting.

So far this season the Huskies are 11-2 when recorded 17+ assists as a team (just a tad over the team’s average of 16.8 assists per game). They’re 1-12 when recording less than 17 assists as a team.

Now you may be thinking to yourself, ‘Well that’s a pretty obvious statement. The more assists you have, the more points you score. That’s usually going to lead to more wins.’ You’re absolutely right, however, it goes far deeper than that.

When the Huskies hand out 17 or more assists in a game, they allow an average of 75 points per game to the opposition. That’s 12 points per game less than the 87-point average they allow when recording less than 17 dimes.

So the Huskies are far more active defensively when dishing out 17+ assists per game. In fact, seven of the eight games this season that the Huskies have recorded at least six steals as a team, are also games where the Huskies have hit the 17 assist mark. They are 7-0 in those games.

So what I’m saying, if I’m saying anything at all, is that the Huskies have a superb offense. And when they run that offense the way it was designed to be run, they can compete with anyone in the NSIC.

The St. Cloud State men’s basketball team hasn’t had a losing record since the 1994-95 season, and if they share the basketball this weekend and in the NSIC Tournament, they won’t have a losing season this year either.

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