Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Eagles to Mix Up Offense ; Watson Says Opponents Becoming Too Familiar

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Eagles to Mix Up Offense ; Watson Says Opponents Becoming Too Familiar

Article excerpt

Apparently one of the worst things that can happen to a basketball team is to become one-sided. Run your offense only on the right or left side of the half court - usually because you've been forced into it - and defenses have a much easier time keeping you from making shots.

"We need to make opposing defenses guard us on both sides of the court," said University of Southern Indiana coach Rodney Watson.

So the Screaming Eagles (16-5, 9-4 Great Lakes Valley Conference) - who fell from No. 10 to No. 23 in this week's NABC Division II poll - have been addressing that problem in practice heading into tonight's 6:45 CST game at No. 12 University of Indianapolis (17- 4, 9-4).

Blame it on the familiarity of conference play.

"Everybody knows everyone's personnel," said Watson. "Everybody knows everybody's offense."

The solution is figuring out how to use your strength regardless of what the opposition knows. In USI's case, its strength is near the basket with 6-foot-10 senior Keith DeWitt, who has been averaging 18.3 points and 66.7 percent from the field (30-for-45) over his last four games.

Watson has been talking all season about how important it is to get De-Witt touches. That doesn't mean shots, necessarily. He just wants DeWitt to get his hands on the ball a lot, forcing defenses to guard him, often double-teaming him. And when that happens, his teammates are left with open shots.

One way to get that done is by reversing the ball - whipping passes around the perimeter of the defense. That can catch a defense out of position. Reversing the ball, then getting it inside for a touch or two by the big man, can create openings.

"I think we haven't been conscientious enough about getting the ball in the middle," said Watson. "We've got to reverse it to where the help (defense) is coming from. We need to move the ball to where the man was who is helping (guard) Keith."

That is, the person who has shifted over to guard DeWitt has left an opening for a USI shooter. But the Eagles haven't been finding that opening. That was a big problem in their second-straight home loss, a 76-72 overtime defeat to now-No. 21 Wisconsin-Parkside on Saturday. …

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