SMU Basketball Update: They'll Take It
SMU Tops NAIA Paul Quinn, 81-63, For First Win
DALLAS – It’s a win, baby. And after SMU’s shaky 0-4 start, that means a lot. No matter that it came against the NAIA Paul Quinn Tigers.
“It’s fun to win,” said SMU head coach Matt Doherty. “First of all, we didn’t beat Memphis, we didn’t beat UTEP. But we beat a team that I have lot of respect for, quite frankly. I don’t care if they’re NAIA, or Division I, or whatever. That’s a good team.”
Doherty said his players really needed the win. “They have to have a little bit of a pay off,” he said.
“Ryan Harp played a spectacular game,” Doherty said, noting Harp’s first-half dive into the stands for a loose ball. “Those are the kind of hustle plays that I’m used to as a North Carolina player, as a Kansas coach, as a North Carolina coach,” Doherty said. “Those are the kind of plays (that) should typify SMU basketball.”
Harp’s 27 minutes’ playing time was double what he’d played in any collegiate game so far. Said Harp, “In practice I’ve just kind of been a guy who brings energy and plays defense, so I felt like that’s what I needed to do this game.”
Killen added 13 points and seven boards for SMU. Damien Chisholm led Paul Quinn with 24 points. SMU out-rebounded the smaller Tigers, 57-25, and shot 48.3 percent from the field to Paul Quinn’s 34.3.
Forward Derrick Roberts and Killen played 32 and 31 minutes, respectively, tops for SMU.
Doherty said the biggest negative was SMU’s 19 turnovers. He jokingly added he’d “exorcised some demons” from Killen after the game. “Hopefully, he won’t have two assists and six turnovers in the future,” Doherty said. “We need him to handle the ball.”
Doherty started Killen, Roberts, Dia, Harp and another freshman, guard Mike Walker.
“We talked a lot about toughness on defense, guarding the ball,” Doherty said. “And I started the team that I thought gave the best chance to guard the ball and compete.”
Paul Quinn (5-5), playing its fourth game in five nights, fought back from a 20-point deficit to trail SMU by just three early in the second half. Did Doherty’s mind drift back to the 18-point blown lead in the season-opening loss to Southern?
“No,” he said, “I was thinking about talking to you (media) guys afterwards.”
“I was thinking, ‘Oh, gosh. What I am I gonna say to you guys?’ I’m serious. I’m thinking, ‘What am I gonna say?’ Like, it’s not good, you know? But, we pulled out of it.”
You were worried, Coach? “Oh, yeah,” Doherty said. “When you’re 0-4, you wonder about the guys’ psyche.”
Killen said SMU had to “wake-up” when the Tigers cut the lead. “We were kind of dead out there on the court.”
“You make plays, you stop people,” Doherty said of ending an opponent’s run. “You make hustle plays, you get long rebounds, you get second shots, (and) you make basketball plays.”
Doherty, as he did early last season, has challenged his team’s toughness, implementing rough, physical workouts of late. The sessions have included no-holds-barred practices, including what Doherty calls a “war-type” rebounding drill.
With a coach shooting at a bubble-covered rim, five players crash in from the 3-point line against five others near the basket. “When the ball hits the bubble it comes off and bodies fly,” Doherty said. “The team that gets the most rebounds wins. The losers run a lot of sprints.”
“I think it helped us grow as a team,” said Harp, who picked up a gash over his eye during one recent practice. “And I think it helped us become … tougher.”
Harp, a freshman from Abilene Cooper High in Abilene, Tex., said the team’s 0-4 start has been rough. “I’m not really used to losing,” he said.
“But … if we can just get on a roll, I think that would just help a lot of things. Just win a couple here and just stay consistent.”
Roberts, who had seven points and five rebounds against the Tigers, said he’s not overly concerned with the Mustangs’ slow start or his game, in particular.
“It’s a long season,” Roberts said. “I’ve been doing this for four years. I know that with the guys coming in … it’s a process. My biggest thing is to show leadership to the young guys and hopefully turn this thing around.”
Next Two for SMU:
Ronnie sez: “I think there’s definitely some talent in some of these young players that we’ve got.” … “Right now, they need to get some confidence in their selves so they can win. I think this year’s gonna be kind of a struggle on wins, but I see some good things ahead for them.”
(Ronnie Perry has followed SMU basketball since 1957.)
SMU Basketball Notes: