March Madness: plausible goal or just another dream?

After suffering a heartbreaking overtime loss at home on January 15 against conference opponent McNeese State, the Bearkats reclaimed their dominance at home and defeated Texas State. Sam Houston State University’s conference record is now 5-2, good for third in the West Division behind Stephen F. Austin and Texas A&M – Corpus Christi.

Halfway through the season, the Bearkats play on the court has been a fairly good indicator of what to expect for the remaining two months. At first glance, the Kats’ record may create a questions about returning to the conference finals, or winning the title. However, their record isn’t a clear indicator of their talent.

With many preseason predictions naming the Bearkats as the odds-on favorite to win the Southland Conference title and a birth into the NCAA tournament, the Bearkats haven’t lived up to their initial billing. But with so many good teams in the SLC, the biggest foe facing the Bearkats isn’t Stephen F. Austin or Texas A&M – Corpus Christi; it’s inconsistency on offense.

In the early part of the game Saturday night, the Bearkats were only able to score 10 points in the first ten minutes of the game. Some credit can be handed to Texas State’s defense, but Bearkats players missed several open shots.

In the next thirty-one and a half minutes, the Kats scored 78 points; an indicator of how potent their offense can be, and by no means a fluke.

Offensive intensity picked up and they were getting rebounds on the offensive end, enabling second chance opportunities, which they would eventfully capitalize on.

Yet with a perimeter-oriented team, inconsistency on offense shouldn’t be too shocking. The Bearkats posses an unusual lineup in that every single starter is a legitimate threat from beyond the three-point line.

Aaron Wade, the team’s leader in three-pointers made and three-point percentage, could also be classified as the team’s center. This not only causes match-up problems for opponents but also creates opportunities for his teammates. Unfortunately, this could eventually come back to haunt the Bearkats through lack of an inside presence.

Wade certainly serves as a potent offensive weapon, but potential problems can arise without a definite go-to guy in the paint.

It may seem that the team lives and dies behind the three point arc, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Though better perimeter shooting certainly helped Saturday night, what also aided in the increased proficiency on the offensive end was their ability to get to the basket.

The Bearkats have shown the ability to penetrate the lane and break down opposing defenses, leading to many open shots throughout the season.

Looking at all of the programs, you have to believe that the Bearkats posses the greatest chance to walk away with the Conference Championship. A team which had shown it can achieve success in the postseason makes the idea of watching the men’s team on CBS over Spring Break not at all unlikely.

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