There’s a full slate of basketball today, but let’s start off talking a little football. Eastern Illinois introduced their new head coach, Kim Dameron, this morning, and it’s a very interesting hire. After two years of high-flying offense put the Panthers on the map, they go with a defensive coordinator, who spent one year at EIU under Bob Spoo, as their new head man. Dameron helped guide Louisiana Tech’s defense from 120th nationwide to 69th in just one season, and will take over a EIU defense that was mostly solid, and overshadowed by all the scoring.
Here’s the thing, though: the offense was already set to take a step back, losing quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and wide receiver Erik Lora. Given Dameron’s penchant as a defensive coach, and that he has to hire a new offensive coordinator, I’m curious how far back a step it is. Next season could very well be a bit of a culture shock for Panthers fans. Of course, if he wins, most people aren’t going to be too concerned with the how.
There’s an inherit unfairness to all of these East-West games this early in the year: they essentially count as 1.5 games. That’s because, since these teams meet just once, the winner also hold the tiebreaker over the loser. So it’s entirely plausible that a loss in the first week on conference play could prevent you from getting a bye, or hold you out of the OVC Tournament all together. In a way, inter-divisional games are more important than divisional games, although they seem to be the most overlooked. Of course, any team that misses the OVC Tournament will likely be able to point to three or four (or more) other opportunities they let slip through their fingers. But you can’t overlook the importance of a win, or a loss, in these early, seemingly inconsequential East-West games.
Speaking of OVC scheduling issues, whose idea was it to play the conference’s two biggest rivalry games on the same day?
Still struggling to understand why SEMO and EKU aren’t winning. I can answer it in one word: defense.
Here’s the current defensive efficiency rankings for just conference games. And a quick note: assuming about 70 possessions a game, every tenth factors to about seven more points allowed. So small difference in the numbers have a big impact on final game numbers.
- Morehead State (0.86 DPPP)
- Austin Peay (0.97)
- Tennessee Tech (0.98)
- Murray State (0.99)
- Tennessee State (0.99)
- SIU Edwardsville (1.02)
- Jacksonville State (1.08)
- Belmont (1.11)
- Eastern Kentucky (1.14)
- UT Martin (1.15)
- Eastern Illinois (1.21)
- Southeast Missouri (1.23)
The four worst teams in defensive efficiency are a combined 2-11 in OVC play. The top 4? 9-1. We talk a lot about scoring, but when it comes down to it, defense matters. Unless you’re Belmont…and can hit 17 three’s in a game. They’re the exception to the rule.