Men's Hoops Update 12-18-05

An adjustment in the starting lineup - moving David Dubois from the wing into the post - paid big dividends for coach Leonard Perry Saturday afternoon as the talented 6-5 true freshman from Madison, Wisconsin sank 10 of 15 field goal attempts en route to a game-high 21 points, leading the Vandals to a defeat of Eastern Oregon 78-57 in the Kibbie Dome.

Perry was generally pleased with the 21-point win that saw the Vandals shoot 68% from the floor in the second half and 60% on the game, but there were still problems that Perry said need to be addressed."

"I'm a little bit discouraged about giving up 48% in the second half," Perry said. "I am encouraged by giving up 44% for the game. I thought we shot the ball well for a change, 60% for the game may be a school record for me since I've been here; so I thought that helped us a lot just in terms of confidence and executing.

"We're not a pretty team," Perry chuckled, "but I thought the kids competed. We had some turnovers towards the end. I thought for the most part we took care of the basketball pretty well. We defended them well in the first half. In the second half they scored some buckets. They threw a zone at us. I thought the kids handled the zone pretty well. I thought our overall number of 3's for the game versus the zone was a good number for us. I think when we're shooting 19 and 20 it's too many. We have to have the right guys shooting the ball from that, and Brett Ledbetter is one of them."

Asked about moving David Dubois inside, Perry said, "We kind of forced it on him, because he hadn't been shooting the ball well from deep in the perimeter (meaning outside of the 3-point arc) as of late. It's a shot he's capable of making, but we wanted to put him closer around the rim, and…we know… he's really good. When he threw a couple in, we wanted to keep going to him so he could find his rhythm and stay with it. I thought the kids did a good job of looking for him in man or zone."

Dubois said he felt more comfortable inside. "In high school I was mainly a 4 or 5," he said. "Working the middle of the zone, getting down low…you could say I was more comfortable down there."

He went on to say Perry ordered the switch, "…because my 3's haven't been in going in, my perimeter [shooting]; so he told me to try and get down low more because that's where I'm most effective, and that's what I tried to do tonight."

Perry also asked 5-11 junior point guard Keoni Watson to help out in the rebounding department to take advantage of his leaping ability and high energy style of play. Watson wound up with 3 rebounds but was consistently playing at basket level. "We made a change to send him [Watson] to the offensive glass," Perry said. "He only ended up with 1 offensive rebound, but we were trying to make a concerted effort to go to the offensive glass a little bit hard, do a better job on the offensive glass. He's everywhere, and we're trying to get the team to match his energy level...that's really hard to do, but the kids are working on it."

The Vandals balanced their scoring and rebounding. Senior Tanoris Shepard had 14 points and 8 assists; Ledbetter had 12 points including three 3-pointers; Watson had 10 points, 4 assists, and 3 steals. Freshman Nebojsa Jakovljevic had his most productive game of the year with 9 points and 4 rebounds. Sophomore Mike Kale collected 8 points and 8 rebounds, Aaron Smith had 2 points, and Desmond Nwoke had 1 point, 5 rebounds, and a blocked shot.

Perry was asked about being in a game where his team was expected to win. "I beg to differ with you there on that phrase alone," he said. "I don't know that we're in a position to automatically know that we're going to win. I really don't. Even in games like this if we don't start well defensively, and this team gets going throwing in a lot of 3's, they can make it a long night for you. I still think this is a good Eastern Oregon team. They're well coached. They played very hard. I thought, knowing that it was a game that we could possibly win…knowing that going in, I thought it was a good effort."

Speaking for his teammates, Dubois said the Vandals were glad to notch the victory. "It's definitely good at this point, gives us some confidence, lets us know that we're not falling back, that we're making progress," he said. "Just continue to work hard, and we'll be okay."

The Vandals will host North Dakota State Wednesday evening in their only action of the week.

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