Smart Card play makes up for height
The Eudora boys basketball team didn't get the game it expected last Thursday. Sporting a starting five that measured two guards taller than 6 feet, 1 inch tall and a front line of three player's ranging from 6-4 to 6-6, the homestanding Prairie View Buffalos were expected to fall back into a zone.
The combination of Eudora's early season outside shooting woes and Prairie View's decided advantage in height at every position seemed to provide the formula for a disastrous night against a 2-3 zone the Buffalos had featured early in the season. Instead, Prairie View attempted to pressure the ball with a man-to-man defense.
"I was shocked," coach Scott Stein said. "I don't know why (the Buffalos) did not come out in their zone. Maybe he saw how Wellsville and Highland Park pressured us in their man-to-man and thought it would work."
Assuming the Buffalos would pack it in and cut off the lanes to easy inside buckets, Eudora did not expect to be able to spread the floor and find baskets in the post throughout the contest. It would play a large part in the Cards 61-44 victory in their first road game of the season.
"They still hurt us on the boards because their size creates so many problems," Stein said. "Yet they could never get us infoul trouble. We're doing a good job of playing smart and contesting other team's shots. Anytime you do that at this level, the players shooting percentages will be way down."
Prairie View was able to collect double-digit offensive rebounds against the smaller Eudora squad, but its inability to knock down shots cost them dearly. Once Eudora got an early lead, Prairie View was unable to drift back into a zone. Instead, the Buffalos were forced to maintain their pressure oriented man-to-man defense. This opened up the floor for the game's high scorer, Chris Gabriel, who finished with 18 points.
"Chris made some nice post moves, and it set the tone for us getting easy buckets," Stein said. "But the free throws were critical. When you get the lead, you're going to have to hit your free throws when they start fouling."
In last Tuesday's game against Wellsville, Eudora was only able to convert 9-of-18 free throws. Two nights later, the trips to the foul stripe came much easier, as Prairie View continued to foul and Eudora gratefully accepted the trips to the line. Despite being the recipient of constant hacking and grabbing, the hands-on nature of the game did not rattle the Cardinals.
"They played a physical game, which we never mind," Stein said. "This is a school known for its football team."
The Cardinals began their winter break from games and practices Saturday and will not resume their practice schedule until Dec. 29. Their first game after the break will be Jan. 5. Stein said he was glad to give the players the time off but expected them to come back energized and ready to tackle the issues that have hampered them in the first half of the season.
"The key for us the rest of the season will be improving our shooting," Stein said. "Good shooting is a great equalizer to any defense we will face."