Appalachian State is on a three-game losing streak that could’ve easily been a two-game winning streak and should absolutely have been one win, if not for the inability to make shots in the paint. Repeatedly, the Mountaineers got to the rim against both Charlotte and Western Carolina and missed great opportunities.
During this losing streak, App State is shooting just 35.5% from inside the three-point line and 34.4% behind it. Too many of those missed two-point opportunities were layups and short jumpers.
Appalachian is getting good shots, they’re just not making them of late. A game against NAIA Montreat College becomes an opportunity for the Mountaineers to find their confidence and their range at the rim again.
Alonzo Mobley: 6’3” guard from Lincolnton, NC is the kind of guard that has given Appalachian trouble this season. Mobley is not a three-point threat, instead choosing to score off the dribble. He’s an extremely athletic and active player shooting nearly 57% from the floor and leads Montreat in scoring, rebounding, assists, blocks, and steals.
David Everage: Everage is a long way from his hometown Las Vegas at Montreat. At 6’7”, Everage works well down low (75% from the floor), is effective at getting to the line, but is also foul-prone so App needs to make him work defensively. He’s the tallest player on the roster and Appalachian can overmatch Montreat with size.
D.J. Caldwell: The 6’0” Charlotte guard is the leading three-point threat (42% from the arc) and takes 60% of his shots from there. Caldwell is much like App State’s Pat Good, in that you don’t want to lose him in the shuffle of defensive switches. He will camp around the three-point line and spot up for kick outs.
Amire Lewis: Coming off the bench, Lewis is an even more accurate (57%) but less frequent three-point shooter than Caldwell. He’s the fourth averaging double-figures, along with those previously mentioned, for what has been a very balanced Montreat scoring attack this season. It’s a very unselfish and deep 11-man rotation, with seven players averaging between 7-14 points.
Patrick Roulette: Not a great shooter from anywhere on the floor (even 40% at the free-throw line), but he does play hard and does a lot of the intangible stuff that Montreat needs to be at 8-2. He does start most games, but with so many guys averaging double-figure minutes you never know exactly what you’ll get.
Norris/Butler/Cusano/Sheffey/Doman/Williams/Storr: They come after you in waves, and it could be any of them that makes a difference. Not necessarily with scoring, but they all play hard. Appalachian has to use their size (all of these Montreat players are between 6’0”-6’5”) and force the tempo against the Cavaliers.
APP STATE MOUNTAINEERS
Ronshad Shabazz: In the realm of struggling inside the arc, Shabazz is an example as he shoots 36% overall but 37% from the three-point line. He’s getting to the line effectively off the dribble, but was more effective in finishing contact plays last year. Shabazz took over this team late last season (10 of final 14 games in double-figures) and App needs him in that role.
Tyrell Johnson: The next guy who has to step up is Tyrell Johnson. After an off-season of building up his game and his body Johnson got off to a nice start. But, in the past two games he’s shooting 5-19 from the floor and is at 38% for the season. Though his range has improved, Johnson is a post guy who needs to convert down low to be effective.
Griffin Kinney: App also needs the return of Kinney, who has declined to 5.0 points and 3.5 rebounds in the last two games. Against an undersized opponent like Montreat, the Mountaineers need to establish an inside/out offense and Kinney is the most polished of the post players to deliver on that. Numbers don’t always define Kinney but he ends to be more prevalent.
Kelvin Robinson: Like pretty much everyone else, Robinson enters this game in a slump. Just 4-17 from the floor in the last two games, Robinson is a tough match-up for Montreat’s guards. He needs to start finding those higher-percentage looks off the dribble that he used so successfully early in the season.
Emarius Logan: Still searching to get comfortable in his new role, one wonders if Logan would be more effective with at least some ball-handling duties. Splitting the point guard role with Robinson would take a little pressure off of both. A little like Shabazz, Logan just seems to be hesitating in the offensive scheme at the moment.
Isaac Johnson: The surprise performer of the season thus far, Johnson’s 40-minute adjusted averages are 15.2 points and 12.7 rebounds. To say Johnson is active is a massive understatement. He is also among team leaders in steals and blocks, so he’s producing on both ends of the floor. Johnson has been a great in-state recruiting find for Appalachian.
Jake Babic: After leading Appalachian in assists through their first fives games Babic has had just one in the past two games. He did score 11 points against Charlotte, but Babic’s biggest impact offensively comes in creating clean looks for others. Getting the team back to a solid assist-to-field goal ratio relies heavily on Babic’s distribution.
Patrick Good: Good looked like he’d gotten back in his groove after nailing his first two three-pointers against Western Carolina. Then, Western switched a smaller guard off of him and had 6’5” defenders chasing him, which disrupted his ability to get good shots. Good will have to start working smarter away from the ball to find his openings.
Jake Wilson/Matt O’Boyle/Craig Hinton/Bennett Holley: The rotation is starting to tighten against comparable opponents, so games like Montreat are important for the reserves to establish themselves. O’Boyle seems a good bet for his 8-10 minutes a game but Holley, Hinton, and Wilson need to be productive whenever they can to remain as consistent active options.
First, Montreat is 8-2 and are very good at playing team ball. Again, they can run up to a dozen players at you and they average 88 points per game. Everyone makes some sort of contribution in most games, it seems. Though, their only game against a D-I opponent was a 42-point exhibition loss to UNC-Asheville.
Next, App State is going to win this game. The question is how do they look to start the game? Are they carrying over any of the shell-shock of their dismal offensive performance against Western Carolina? Do they come out angry and play with aggression against an over-matched opponent? Is it something in between?
Because so many Mountaineers have played so many games very early in their careers it’s easy to forget how young App State is as a team. The only senior on the roster averages less than 10 minutes. Only two juniors get consistent minutes. The rest of the primary six-man rotation is all sophomores and freshmen.
This game will be more significant to evaluate App State’s maturity than its talent. We’ll see it in the way the Mountaineers attack this game, and it has to begin at the opening tip.
APP STATE 104 – MONTREAT 71