The fans of two different teams, in different states, and different divisions are both left asking the exact same questions:
What has happened to our teams? And how do we fix it?
Despite recent struggles, neither team should be in panic mode. The Redhawks are in the middle of the complete mess that is the Western Division, whereas the Colonels are still in a great position for a bye in the East.
That could change with a loss today.
A Southeast Missouri loss could put the Redhawks, currently holding onto to the 8-seed in Nashville, on the outside looking in. An Eastern Kentucky loss won’t knock them from the 4-seed, but puts it back in play for rival Morehead State.
There’s little question that both teams need this win. The question is who wants it more?
The word I’m hearing the most after Thursday night’s loss? Karma.
The number I should be hearing more of? 38. The number of three-point attempts in the loss. A number, by the way, head coach Jeff Neubauer says he was okay with in a post game interview. So, to understand, the Colonels put up just 65 points, shoot just 35% from the field against a weak defensive team. And you’re okay with that?
Are you sure you understood the question?
Interview comments aside, there weren’t a whole lot of positives from a horrific night. Nearly doubled up on the boards, double the number of fouls committed. The one good thing, just five turnovers, forcing 14 from the Skyhawks. So there’s that.
Bad loss? No question. The question that does remain is how do they respond now? Forget about Belmont, as they’re not a concern until March, if they’re even a concern then. EKU is healthy, with Glenn Cosey back in the lineup, and the Colonels have just two games left against a team above .500 in the conference. There’s no reason Eastern Kentucky can’t have all the momentum behind them heading into March.
Unless they’re still thinking about March. Like they were on Thursday. When they lost. In Martin.
Do you remember when the Redhawks were 2-0 in the conference, and one half away from toppling Murray State for the lead in the OVC West Division? Because it seems like forever ago now.
As does the last time they held an opponent under 70 points. Because since that loss to Murray, they’ve only done it once, against Tennessee Tech, their only win in the past seven games.
The Redhawks rank last defensively in OVC games, and have been fairly defensively challenged all year. Some of the reasons, like not forcing turnovers, remains the same. Others, like three-point defense and rebounding, don’t. There’s not one area of the floor, like we saw last season, where you can point and go “there’s the problem.” Instead, you’re left pointing at the entire team, hoping that at some point, someone will contest a shot.
“Defensively Challenged” is actually somewhat of a theme throughout the conference this year, as there are far more teams struggling to get stops as there are that live by them. But unlike teams that have been more successful, the Redhawks lack that killer offensive attack. That’s not saying their offense if bad, it just doesn’t have that same ferocity that teams like Eastern Kentucky and Belmont do.
Fouls have been more of a challenge lately as well, on both sides of the ball. SEMO is last in the conference in FT shooting, hitting just 62% in OVC play. They’re also sending teams to the line far too often, which cost them dearly in their overtime loss to Eastern Illinois last weekend.