SMU's zone offense cruises
Tim Jankovich said he spent weeks working on zone offense in preseason practices in anticipation of SMU's nonconfernce game vs. Eastern Michigan. Saturday's 84-point output against South Florida's primarily zone defense looked just as good as the 92-point day vs. EMU two months earlier. USF clearly wanted to keep SMU out of the paint and protect against dunks and alley-oops. It packed its 2-3 zone in toward the lane and didn't rotate it a lot, giving SMU a chance for some early open 3-pointers. Once SMU hit those, it started attacking the middle and back of the USF zone with alley-oops and baseline actions and drives. When an SMU guard drove toward the hoop on the baseline, USF left a shooter open in the corner by helping toward the ball. SMU also drove into the middle of the zone, forcing help, then found an open shooter. SMU assisted on 23 of its 30 field goals, not far off from its 26 assists on 29 field goals against EMU. But SMU shot more 3s against USF than EMU: Five players made one and SMU shot 15-of-30 from deep.
Too many open 3s allowed
SMU's has defense improved during its now 10-game win streak, but it allowed its share of open 3s against USF, a flashback to a persistent problem earlier this season. The Bulls made 11 of their 24 3-point tries (45.8 percent), with Troy Holston supplying six of them. On some of Holston's attempts, SMU over-helped off him on short dribble drives from the perimeter. On a couple more, SMU got caught on screens set for him. On other USF 3-pointers, SMU just didn't close out in time or have a hand up.
Getting comfortable with a six-man rotation...for now.
Dashawn McDowell played seven minutes off the bench, but right now SMU is using a rotation with six players used heavily and McDowell less so. If he can cut down the turnovers, he'd be seeing the court a little more, but SMU likes the chemistry of its starting five plus Ben Emelogu. Six players logged at least 25 minutes for SMU. Emelogu had a season-high 11 points on 4-for-6 shooting, so the lack of other bench production didn't hurt SMU today. He's 7-for-15 from the floor with only three turnovers in four conference games, so he's giving SMU better production of late after a rough start. But if SMU wants to minimize fatigue at the end of the year, getting more from McDowell and continued improvement from Emelogu would be ideal. Jonathan Wilfong has appeared briefly in first halves of recent games to give the staters a rest, but only played in mop-up duty today.