Youth and inexperience can be ways to describe this year's Southern Methodist University 2008-09 basketball team, but while describing this year's Mustangs squad don't forget the word talented.
After a slow start offensively in the first half of their home opener at Moody Coliseum Friday night in the opening round of the SMU Tip Off Classic, junior college point guard Derek Williams gave the Mustangs the needed spark his team needed.
With his team leading only by five, Williams hit a near half court three point shot at the buzzer that gave the Mustangs added momentum going into the locker room giving his team an eight point lead at the intermission instead of five, enroute to a 79-60 victory.
"That's why Coach Doherty brought me here," Williams said after the game. "He told me he wants me to be a difference maker, I think that shot gave us a spark."
Coach Doherty would agree with his junior college point guard.
"Derek has proven to me to be a better shooter than I first thought," Doherty admitted. "Last five minutes of the first half is a critical period, we finished off the first half well because of Derek."
Doherty accredited his team's slow start in the first half to the team being tight for its home opener.
"I believe we were tight, there is a lot of pressure mentally not just on them but for me as well," Doherty said. "I'm nauseous before the game. You wait around all day, its home opener. You want to perform well and you're not sure what you really have."
Doherty was excited with his team's overall effort and feels that his young team will improve and get better with each game.
The Mustangs opened the season last week on the road against South Florida, while the Mustangs were a six point favorite going into that game, the Mustangs lost a 14 point game on the road.
"USF has a great team," Doherty said. "They lost only by two on the road to Virginia. They are a bigger, better team that we played tonight. I thought we improved a lot since the opener, we are learning to play as a team, and we are growing and improving with each practice and each game."
SMU totaled 11 steals and had 13 assists against 11 turnovers. McCoy, Dia, Frank Otis, and Ryan Harp each had two steals.
In total, the Mustangs forced 19 turnovers for the Huskies and finished with a 20-2 lead in points off turnovers.
The Mustangs will be back in action tonight against Alabama State at 7:30 p.m. The Hornets lost a 77-71 match up to Illinois State in the other first round game Friday night.
SMU will finish up the three day tournament Sunday night at 7:30 p.m. against Illinois State.
"It's fun to be coming off the floor with a win at Moody," Doherty said. "Our goal is to have a lot more of these. Our guys played hard, went 10 deep. I was excited about the effort."