Schuck's Clipboard

Hill, Wildcats learning how to be competitive

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Dec. 21, 2018 1:50 am

Aaron Hill is a big believer defensive field-goal percentage is a much better indicator of a team's performance than points allowed.

"That can fluctuate with the number of possessions," he said. "It doesn't necessarily tell you if you are guarding or not."

What the numbers tell the first-year Culver-Stockton College men's basketball is quite clear.

When the Wildcats guard, they're quite competitive. When they don't, it's a struggle.

C-SC went into the holiday break with a 7-7 record having endured the peaks and valleys you might expect from a program that won eight games total the past two seasons combined. The peak has been a three-game winning streak, which is the longest streak since opening the 2014-15 season with three straight victories. The valley has been a three-game losing streak, the first two of which came on the road.

The Wildcats are 2-4 on the road, having allowed opponents to shoot 54.4 percent or better from the field in three of those losses.

Overall, opponents are shooting 49.3 percent from the field in the Wildcats' road game.

"I'm not sure if that's approach or comfort or toughness or whatever the case may be," Hill said. "We have to get better on the road."

Conversely, home cooking has treated the Wildcats well.

They are 5-3 at Charles Field House and no opponent has shot at least 50 percent from the field in any of the Wildcats' five victories. Overall, opponents are shooting 49.2 percent from the field, a number slightly skewed by the 58.6 percent No. 2-ranked William Penn shot.

"I like how we've played in front of our own fans," Hill said. "It's always good to protect your home floor at a high level.

The fact the Wildcats have limited opponents to 44 percent shooting or less seven times overall is a good sign moving forward.

Hill noted most teams that reach the final four at any level typically limit opponents to 42-44 percent shooting. The Wildcats have some work to do to reach that level.

"You can't take away everything," Hill said. "So we have to get better at identifying the shots we'll live with other teams taking that we think are in our favor."

Making a few more shots of their own will help, too. The Wildcats are shooting just 40.7 percent from the field overall and 28.5 percent from 3-points.

"That can make things tough," Hill said. "It magnifies things when you don't enough stops on the other end of the floor."

But Hill is confident the Wildcats will discover their touch and rhythm during the second half of the season.

"I know it's guys who have made shots in the past," he said. "I do think our best offensive basketball is ahead of us."

That's why he's raring to get the Wildcats back on campus and get back to work.

The team returns Dec. 26 and will have three days to prepare of an exhibition game against NCAA Division II Lincoln University before jumping headlong into Heart of America Athletic Conference play. Six of C-SC's nine games in January will be played on the road, making life more challenging.

Hill embraces that, and he embraces the crew assembled around him.

That combination is why the Wildcats have already matched last season's victory total with plenty more to come.

"I really like the people that are involved in our program. I think we can still get a lot better and we've shown a willingness to learn. Right now, everything is still new for everybody, but we have the right approach. If we maintain that, I like the direction we're headed."