Realistically — is a UT Martin a top-4 team in the OVC? They’re the only conference team with two road wins, they’re second in the league in offensive efficiency, and they’re 3-1 despite their star averaging fewer points than any season of his collegiate career — which shows this team has more depth than they have in the past.
It needs to be noted — neither of their road wins are over top-100, or even top-200 competition. They aren’t beating Goliath, rather beating other, smaller David’s. But especially on the road, wins are wins, and 20-point wins are almost always something to note.
I think it’s too early to say Heath Schroyer has UT Martin ready to challenge for a conference crown. But if you look at the West Division — which still appears to be struggling, there’s an argument to be made UTM could finish as high as third…maybe even second, as SEMO appears to be still trying to find solid footing, and Murray State hasn’t gotten back to how they played last March in the CIT.
The defense still must get better — UTM’s opponents are shooting 45% from three-point range, for instance. But UT Martin is going to surprise some people who are expecting last year’s team to walk into their gym.
Here’s a major positive from an otherwise terrible night for Tennessee State against Virginia: The Tigers only committed nine turnovers. Absolutely nothing else offensively went their way, as the top-10 Cavilers held TSU sub-30% shooting from the field, although Xavier Richards and Marcus Roper had good production on the bench.
Our big question with this team this year is — how can we tell if they’re getting better. Obviously, score isn’t always a great indicator. This is why we need to look to the positives, like turnovers, and look for the individual performances, like Richards hitting 5-9 from the field. TSU is going to lose a lot of games this year, and if your focused on all the things they’re doing wrong, you’re not giving Dana Ford a real chance to get this team back. Year three, or even four, is going to be a much better indicator of Ford as a coach and recruiter — and that’s a lot of time to ask for.
And remember, TSU is still shorthanded, although they’re back up to nine players now.
It’s still early in the year, and we’re still trying to find our groove a bit. This summer, we decided to change how we did things this year, to offer more content then ever, and I didn’t really give myself enough time to get everything set up on the site to make it happen.
Following Thanksgiving — we’re kind of resetting here at OVC Ball. The First Word and the Morning After will return, as will By the Numbers, plus game previews with more statistics, and a new format. We’re also adding more to our game recaps to make them easier to read, rapid reactions after games, weekly grades for each phase of the game, and offering more insight. I’ve spent much of this week streamlining the process on my end so I can make this all happen, and still have time to sleep, and play the occasional round of NBA 2k15.
In other words — December is going to be our biggest and best month ever! And we’ve got even more planned when conference play gets underway.