With 2022 just underway, it is time to talk about some potential resolutions for the men’s basketball team. Men’s basketball beat writer Christian De Block discusses some potential changes for the team as they head into the second half of the season.
Share the Love
An area that the team needs to improve in is their ability to share the ball on the offensive end. Marist averages just 8.8 assists per game, which ranks last in the MAAC and toward the bottom of the nation. Senior Raheim Sullivan leads the team with 1.76 assists per game.
Sullivan and freshman Jao Ituka, two of the guards on the roster, are most effective when they are able to create off the dribble for themselves. This means that the ball does not move as much, leading to a lack of assists. The Red Foxes average 70.4 points per game, which ranks sixth in the conference. While that is an increase from previous seasons, more ball movement could lead to the team finding the next level offensively.
Limit the Giveaways
One concern that has surfaced in a few games this season has been turnovers. Teams like Iona and Monmouth have gone to a press in order to create extra opportunities for themselves. While it has not been a problem every night, it has kept Marist from winning a few extra games. The Red Foxes average 12.9 turnovers per game, which ranks seventh in the MAAC.
After committing 20 turnovers in a loss against Siena on Friday night, the team showed some promise two days later. In a 84-48 win over Monmouth, the Red Foxes had just 11 turnovers. If the team can continue to limit that moving forward, it could go a long way for them during the second half of the season.
Take Advantage of the Freebies
Another area that the team will look to see improvement in is at the charity stripe. The Red Foxes are shooting 69.7 percent from the free throw line on the year, which ranks ninth in the MAAC.
Converting at the line is crucial, especially in close games. Marist is near the middle of the road when it comes to total free throw attempts across the conference. The team has attempted 238 free throws in 16 games, which ranks seventh in the conference. With guards like Sullivan and Ituka, who are able to get into the paint at will, opportunities to get to the charity stripe could increase for the Red Foxes.
Holding on in the Clutch
Something that Marist will look to improve upon over the second half of the season is how they finish games. Through 16 contests, the Red Foxes have eight losses. In four of those games, Marist has held a lead in the last four minutes of regulation or overtime.
This includes both matchups with Iona, a team that is the overwhelming favorite to win the MAAC this year. Marist had every opportunity to sweep the season series but was unable to do so. If the Red Foxes are going to make a jump in the conference standings, retaining leads down the stretch of games will be crucial.
Defend the Fox Den
Through the first two months of the season, Marist has been more successful on the road versus at home. In seven games at McCann Arena, the team is just 3-4. In nine games away from home, the Red Foxes are 5-4.
Marist is certainly in contention for a top-four finish in the MAAC this year with the roster they have. If the team is going to find themselves in that spot by the first week of March, holding serve at home will be necessary. When they show up, fans at McCann can provide an exciting atmosphere, and Marist needs to take advantage of that moving forward.
The Red Foxes have shown some real flashes of potential in the first half of the season, but if they want to challenge for a spot in March Madness, they need to clean these shortcomings.
Edited by Bridget Reilly and Jonathan Kinane
Photo from Marist Athletics