Four games into the league schedule, the Bears (6-10 overall and 4-0 in the conference) have averaged a MEAC-best 81.8 points and 15.8 assists per game and shot a league-high 48.6 percent on 121 of 249 shooting.
Coach Todd Bozeman credits an evolving comfort level among the players for the offense’s emergence.
“The first couple games, I didn’t expect them to be comfortable because we were trying to get better and we obviously weren’t where we wanted to be, but who would want to be there?” he said Wednesday. “You don’t want to peak at the beginning of the season. The whole plan is to progress so that you’re peaking at the end of the season. I wouldn’t say we’re peaking, but we’re trending, and that’s a good thing.”
Two of the team’s better performances in assists have occurred against conference rivals. Morgan State recorded 20 assists in a 73-56 victory over South Carolina State on Jan. 11 and 19 helpers in a 87-58 rout of Howard on Dec. 7.
The assists are an especially pleasing development for Bozeman, because it indicates that the players are looking for and finding open teammates for high-percentage shots.
“I just think they’re sharing the ball more and better, and they’re feeling comfortable,” he said. “It’s a process that kind of starts at the beginning of the season. … That’s all we’re trying to do, continuing to get better. It’s not like we’re setting out those as goals. We’re just trying to get better, and if that happens, that happens.”
The one area that still perplexes the Bears, however, occurs at the free-throw line, where the team ranks 13th out of 13 MEAC teams with a 64.1 conversion rate (66 of 103). But Bozeman pointed out that the statistic doesn’t account for free throws made late in games such as when the team went 8-for-8 in the final minute of Monday night’s 80-71 victory over Hampton.
“We work on them like we work on every aspect of the game,” Bozeman said. “At some point, it will get better. Trust me, we’re shooting better than we did at the beginning. So it’s like everything else. It’s definitely not as bad as it was in the beginning. That’s what I’m focused on, the improvement.”