Ian Chiles is thriving in the paint, shooting the ball well and inspiring fear in opponents who take shots by rejecting many of them.
“You win games a lot of time with your guard play,” Morgan State coach Todd Bozeman said, “but if you have a strong post presence, it is important, because those are where the higher-percentage shots come from. And also, as a defender, you have someone in there protecting against those higher-percentage shots.”
The 7-foot-2 senior center has blocked 14 shots in the past two games, including a career-high nine against Norfolk Sate on Saturday.
Chiles is second in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference with 3.1 rejections per game, and has amassed 68 blocks on the season, and 171 in his career.
Chiles also scored 23 points in Morgan State’s (9-13, 7-3) 82-77 win over rival Coppin State on Monday.
“We try to go inside as much as we can and take advantage of Ian’s size and his ability,” Bozeman said.
Through 22 games, Chiles is averaging 15 points on 54.3 percent shooting, which ranks sixth in the MEAC. But oftentimes, Chiles' success can depend on refereeing.
Defenders "push him a lot,” Bozeman said. “I really do think it is unfair how he gets treated in the paint because they push him a lot now. He is trying to get as deep in the paint as he can. Oftentimes, they push him. They push him off the block. I feel for Ian sometimes because they are really beating him up in there, pushing him in the back and putting their elbow in his back.”
Senior guard Justin Black, who leads the Bears with 18.9 points per game on 43.4 percent shooting, can help. When he gets hot from outside, he can help alleviate pressure inside.
“They can’t double down as much, they can’t double up on him,” Bozeman said of Chiles. “That helps Ian have space to operate inside. Those guys are in the same class. They kind of came in together. And they have formed a bond. They have a chemistry between themselves that helps provide the 1-2 punch on the inside and outside.”
“And when he is getting the ball [one on one] and making a strong move, a lot of the teams have gotten in foul trouble, or fouled out of the game. So when it really is working for our advantage, it is a big deal for us, because that puts the other teams' bigs in foul trouble and allows us to now be in position to rebound better.”