Mississippi State basketball coach Ben Howland said he was abandoning the zone after the Bulldogs were lit up again from beyond the three point arc against the Tennessee Vols.
During the post game press conference after the Mississippi State basketball team lost to the Tennessee Vols, coach Ben Howland said he was going to live and die by man-to-man defense for the rest of the season. It’s understandable since the Bulldogs ability to guard the three point shot has been virtually nonexistent. Here is what opposing teams have done to Mississippi State behind the three point arc since SEC play began.
- Texas A&M: 9-27 (not awful)
- Arkansas: 16-24 (pathetic)
- Kentucky: 9-23 (not good)
- Tennessee: 10-23 (terrible
If you want to know just how bad that is, SEC teams are shooting 44-97 from three point range. That equates to 45.3%. It doesn’t matter what we do as a team, if we give up 45% of three point attempts every game, we won’t win an SEC game this entire season.
So abandoning the zone is the smart move. The zone leaves a defense more susceptible to three pointers, so switching to man-to-man defense is really the only answer. But will it help get the Mississippi State basketball team a win?
I am highly skeptical.
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We could very well be trading one problem for another. The Mississippi State basketball roster is highly flawed. The team has no true post up players besides Gavin Ware. Ben Howland had decided to use zone to keep Ware from getting in foul trouble and to try and overcome the obvious mismatches the team was going to see. So there is a really good chance the Bulldogs perform better against the three point shot, but give up way too many easy buckets in the low post. And worse yet, the Mississippi State basketball team might see their most effective player on the bench a lot with foul trouble.
There is no easy solution to fixing the Bulldog basketball team in 2016. the holes on the roster because of Rick Ray’s inability to recruit have made this first year under new coach Ben Howland a much steeper mountain to climb than most of us anticipated.
Don’t misunderstand and think I believe Howland is making a mistake by abandoning the zone. I think you have to in the situation the Bulldogs are in. I just don’t know if it will make a big difference in the long run.
We’ll get our first glimpse on if this new strategy will work tonight. Three of the four leading scorers for the Florida Gators in 2016 are 6-8 forwards or taller. They also just shoot 30.4% from three point range. If the bigger, longer players for the Gators start to abuse the Mississippi State basketball team in the low post, will Ben Howland go back to a zone, at least for a game?
We’ll find out tonight.