Binghamton has already been dealt a tough hand through their non-conference schedule, starting 3-10, but their America East schedule is hardly forgiving.
Conference play is a round robin design, but they face league favorite Stony Brook to start on Wednesday night. It hardly gets easier from there with games against New Hampshire, Albany and Vermont in their first five conference games. By Jan. 21, the Bearcats will have faced each of the top four teams picked in the preseason.
“You are 0-0, but that’s certainly a very optimistic approach, which is good; you want to be optimistic, you want the players to be optimistic but at the same time we have to start playing better or we’ll be quickly in a hole in league play too,” head coach Tommy Dempsey said. “We have a tough, a really tough start to our league schedule.”
Entering Tuesday, the Bearcats ranked 340th in the country as they average just 59.5 points per game through the young season, though their blowout loss at Michigan State skews their total – the 33 points scored in that game drops their average by over two points.
However, their offensive struggles cannot be masked by just one game, as Binghamton ranks 346th in field goal percentage and 341st in three-point field goal percentage. Dempsey attributes that to their inability to attack offensively against zones.
“That’s my responsibility, we have to run better zone offense, we have to get better shots,” Dempsey said. “We haven’t been great offensively against man, but I think the offensive struggles have been very pronounced against the zone. I’m sure, until we prove that we can play better against zone defense, that we’ll see some.”
The Bearcats have already lost Yosef Yacob and Romello Walker for the season, each to shoulder injuries, and have transitioned true freshman Everson Davis (11.1 ppg) into the point guard role. Still, the offense has struggled and will face a team in the Seawolves that averages a league-best 77.4 ppg. Still Wednesday night represents a great place to begin the Bearcats’ resurgence in the conference, for a team that was picked fifth in the preseason.
“It’s easy to get really frustrated when the ball’s not going in the basket, but energy’s not our issue,” Dempsey said. “Effort’s not our issue. Togetherness isn’t our issue. Our skill set right now is a big issue and our ability to make jump shots is a big issue.”
“I think that I have to do a better job of getting us in better positions to score. We’re all doing our part and working to get better shots and make those shots, when we get them and I just feel like it’s a team that’s lacking some offensive confidence for sure. I think confidence, during the course of the season comes and goes, and right now we’re not in a great place, but we can turn that around quickly with a couple of good performances.”
Ryan Restivo wrote the America East conference preview for the 2015-16 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. He covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the America East conference among others for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.