Friday, June 14, 2024

Bench players give team edge

Although only five players can share the court, multiple players come off the bench to provide energy and excitement.

The Cardinals haven’t missed a beat with the bench on the floor, providing a second unit that head coach Tom Curle can count on.

“We are not relying on one guy to do any type of scoring whether it be inside, or from the three, or getting to the rim,” Curle said.

The Cards went 2-0 last weekend and a big part of it was the bench, which scored 23 points against Elizabethtown and 50 against Lycoming in what turned out to be a rout. A significant part of that was Jordan Moody, who shined with 22 points and was a starter for the Cards back in 2012.

Although it’s early in the season and rotations typically become tighter as the season progresses, nine players have played a total of at least 25 minutes.

With so many offensive threats, the Cards, Curle said, become a torment for coaches looking to draw up a game plan.

“It’s just difficult to prepare for that type of depth for opponents,” Curle said. “Do they work with their starting unit for our bench? Unless someone is going to play five guys only, it’s almost impossible to prepare for everybody we’re going to throw at you.”

A wrinkle the Cards threw out for opponents over the weekend was having Kyle Richardson inbound the ball. It worked well for the Cards because he has size, can get to the rim and can handle the ball.

Surrounding Richardson with shooters forces the defense to choose when he drives.

“As long as they share the ball and find the guy that’s open, we will continue to shoot it well as a team,” Curle said.

The Cards shot 53 percent in game one and Ezra Hodgson was the right guy to find. He was efficient, netting eight-of- 10 field goals for 21 points, and deadly from beyond the arc, hitting four of five.

Hodgson said his teammates did a great job of finding him.

He said the Cards will be fine against their next two opponents if they limit turnovers.

The Cards play Western Connecticut State at 7 p.m. and Skidmore College at 7 p.m. Monday.

At the helm for the Cards has been Mike Mitchell, who dished out eight assists with no turnovers against Lycoming. He leads the team with 15 assists.

Mitchell, who came off the bench last season for Chris Manning, said he has transitioned well into a starting role because of the experience he gained from watching Manning.

He said the Cards are tough to guard with so many athletic guys such as Xavier Thomas coming off the bench.
Curle said the Cards will be facing a veteran and quick team on Friday, so the Cards need to continue to defend at a high level.

“Defensively, our team has done a couple of different things,” Curle said. “One, we have contained the ball pretty well. Two, we have made in-game adjustments, and three, we can put different levels of athleticism off our bench on the floor against their bench.”

The focus for the Cards, Curle said, is to make sure players keep buying into a team-first mentality all season.

“We know this is the strength of our team,” Curle said. “We have to make sure we keep a positive, and stay-together mentality because our guys can go somewhere else and play more minutes. If they start worrying about that aspect, then our strength becomes a huge weakness.”

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