|J.C. Smith basketball goes all in for revival on defense|
|Late breakdowns key to 10-18 slide in 2018-19|
|Published Thursday, October 17, 2019 10:00 pm|
|PHOTO | TROY HULL|
|J.C. Smith senior guard Cayse Minor is the Golden Bulls' top returning scorer at 17.0 points per game last year.|
More attention to defense could go a long way for Johnson C. Smith basketball.
The Golden Bulls, who stumbled to a 10-18 record last year, were deficient at stopping opponents, allowing an average of 76.7 points per game. Competing for wins wasn’t their issue; rather it was defensive lapses in key stretches that undid them in close games.
“We know what our upside is, and we know what our downside is,” said coach Steve Joyner, who is the dean of CIAA coaches with 33 seasons at JCSU. “Our downside is we didn’t play much defense last year, so we’re looking to be a better defensive unit.”
That liability was especially glaring in CIAA games, where the Golden Bulls slid to 5-13 by allowing opponents to score 76.7 points per game on 46.7% shooting. JCSU was especially vulnerable around the rim, either by giving up rebounds, where the average deficit was 5.4 per game, or breakdowns against the drive.
“We think we have the size to rebound with most people and we have the ability to score,” Joyner said. “We certainly did last year, but one of the things we didn’t do well last year is defend. Most of the time we were in the game because we were scoring, but we’d have a turnover or missed assignment, and it would cost us the game.”
The Golden Bulls have to replace the productivity top scorer and rebounder Roddric Ross (19.0 points, 6.0 rebounds), but return three starters.
Shooting guard Cayse Minor averaged 17.0 points an outing and connected on 47.7% of his shots, including 34.8% from 3-point range. Whatever success they have on offense, the ball will go through Minor, a senior.
“Cayse in the key of Minor, we’re leaning on him,” Joyner said. “He’s the leader this year. We’re excited about him; he’s excited about being in a leadership role and he’s taking it seriously. It’s his team and I think we’re going to be OK.”
In addition to Minor, small forward Nenad Milenkovic is expected to take on more of an offensive role after averaging 6.7 points and 2.2 boards as a part time starter in his first season. Sophomore point guard Justice Goodloe, who had an inconsistent freshman season leading offense, is expected to develop with more experience and competition for playing time.
“I like our sophomore class,” Joyner said. “I like Justice Goodloe at point guard, but he’s going to be challenged a little bit more by Trevor Lewis, who’ll be a senior this year. Trevor’s had a good offseason. He’s built up his strength, so we think he’s going to be viable in that duel.”
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