The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

Instagram

Men’s hoops finally beats a team they should

Playing a team on the second night of a back-to-back turned out to be the cure for SMU’s ails. It wasn’t pretty at some points, but it is the first win for a Mustang team that was in desperate need of one.

Make no mistake – for better or worse, Tuesday night’s match-up against Paul Quinn was a turning point in SMU’s young season.

It was embarrassing to lose the home opener to Alabama State. It was alarming to get run of out the gym by Centenary.

A loss to lowly Paul Quinn would have been devastating.

Luckily head coach Matt Doherty won’t have to deal with that problem.

“We didn’t beat Memphis, we didn’t beat UTEP,” Doherty said after the team’s 81-63 win. “But we beat a team that I have a lot of respect for, quite frankly.”

Tuesday night’s game was the first sign of progress with a team that still has a long way to go. As the first four games showed, sometimes it’s the first step that can be the hardest.

Credit having a week of no classes during Thanksgiving for getting this team on the right track. Doherty and his coaches had the undivided attention of his players and the opportunity to key in on problem areas.

Players participated in what Doherty called war-type drills to increase toughness. In one of them, a bubble is put over the rim and a coach throws the ball off of it – then all chaos breaks loose as two teams of five battle to get possession. The loser has to run sprints to reinforce the importance of getting physical in the paint.

“I think it helped us grow as a team, and I think it helped us become a lot more tougher,” said freshman guard Ryan Harp, who obviously got the message. At one point Tuesday night he flung himself over the courtside seats and into the blue chairs for a rebound.

However, as nice and necessary as SMU’s win was, let’s be realistic. SMU was supposed to win this game. The creampuff schedule was intended to rack up wins and instill confidence, and Paul Quinn was one of those games.

It says a lot that this team was desperate for a win over an NAIA school that was playing its fourth game in five nights. And while the Mustangs were more physical in the paint, there is still plenty to work on.

SMU had 19 turnovers to a very small Paul Quinn team. A more physical team would have dominated the Mustangs and actually converted those turnovers into points.

Doherty joked afterward that he performed an exorcism on senior guard Jon Killen, who led the team with six turnovers. But it won’t be funny when better teams continue to take advantage of this team’s sloppiness.

Bottom line – you can take your hand off the panic button for the next few days. However, it’s completely reasonable and fair to demand improvement game to game, and SMU must continue to do so.

More to Discover