Doherty Not Happy With Performance Against NAIA Foe
CUSA-fans.com has a new staff of team correspondents this year to help bring you, the fan, more detailed Conference USA sports coverage. Today, our SMU Correspondent Rick Atkinson brings you his weekly SMU basketball update.
DALLAS - Head coach Matt Doherty said SMU performed on “all cylinders” in last week’s 99-66 drubbing of Louisiana-Monroe. But, by Monday night, the Mustangs appeared in need of a tune-up, with a lackluster 76-54 win against NAIA Paul Quinn College.
“In all due respect to Paul Quinn, we did not play a good basketball game,” Doherty said. “I don’t think we were very sharp and it was probably our worst performance of the year.”
Doherty said a Conference USA team probably would have beaten SMU this night.
The Mustangs bolted to a 36-8 lead before the sputtering and knocking began. Doherty said the team let its guard down as Paul Quinn (1-6) went on a 9-2 run to close out the first half.
In the second stanza, the Tigers matched SMU, 38-37.
Doherty said the Mustangs appeared lethargic, allowed too much dribble-penetration and had poor execution.
“We’ve been playing good basketball,” he said. “We talk about being a championship-caliber team, and championship-caliber teams perform better in situations like this.”
Devon Pearson and Donatas Rackauskas added 11 points each.
SMU shot just 43 percent from the field but was hot from the line, knocking down 20 of 24 free throw attempts.
“That’s probably the thing we did best was get fouled and make our foul shots,” Doherty said. “To shoot 83 percent from the foul line was terrific.”
One of Doherty’s goals is for his team to make more free throws than opponent attempts. In six games, the Mustangs have done it four times, winning each contest. For the season, SMU has made 97 free throws to 93 opponent attempts.
Another goal is more assists than turnovers. Against Paul Quinn, SMU’s tally was 23 turnovers, 15 assists.
Rackauskas added a career-high 13 rebounds, and Fall and Pearson had 17 and 15 points, respectively.
SMU shot 63 percent from the field on the way to 99 points, its highest point total in nearly six years.
The win avenged last year’s surprising season-opening loss to the Warhawks.
As for the Paul Quinn game, Doherty is holding his fire for now as the relationship with his new team evolves.
“I could’ve yelled and screamed,” he said. “I could’ve not started someone in the second half. I could’ve pulled somebody after a certain play. And I didn’t do that because I don’t want to lose them. I don’t want to disgrace them.”
“I talk a lot about respect,” he said. “I’ve got to show them respect.”
“But, you know, that respect thing goes both ways,” he said.
“We’ll learn,” Doherty said at one point. “We have good kids.”
SMU’s 5-1 start is its best since beginning 8-1 in 2000-01.
Next game: Sunday, Dec. 3 at home versus Texas College ( Tyler, TX), 7 p.m.
Two after that: Wednesday, Dec. 13 Prairie View A&M 7 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 16 @ Centenary 3 p.m.
Did you know? Sunday marks the 50 th anniversary of the opening of SMU’s Moody Coliseum. On December 3, 1956, the Mustangs played their first game in the facility, a 113-36 win over McMurry.
Earlier that year, SMU made its only appearance to date in the Final Four, falling, 86-68, to Bill Russell and the University of San Francisco in the semifinals.