McNeese State guard Kevin Hardy. (Rick Hickman / American Press)
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 6:27 PM
The math behind McNeese State’s recent struggles is easy to decipher in the box scores.
In the eight games since forward Craig McFerrin has returned to the lineup, the Cowboys are 3-0 when he, guard Kevin Hardy and forward Desharick Guidry all score in double figures.
When any member of that triumvirate is held to fewer than 10 points, McNeese loses.
It may be an oversimplified explanation of the Cowboys’ 1-4 start to Southland Conference play, but coach Dave Simmons realizes his team is at its best when Hardy, Guidry and McFerrin are at theirs.
“When Desharick and Craig are playing well, and we get Dontae (Cannon) and Kevin contributing, we’re a pretty solid basketball team, no matter what we get from the bench or the other starter does,” Simmons said. “We have to have those guys perform to be in games.”
Of course, opposing teams are wise to this, too.
“You’ve got to give our opponents some credit,” Simmons said. “They’re looking at the same thing statistically. They are looking at our team and saying, ‘Where are we weak at?’ and attacking those things. We have to continue to work on those things.”
Simmons said part of the problem is on his end. Guidry fouled out of recent losses to Nicholls State and Sam Houston State, leaving the Cowboys vulnerable to second-chance scoring opportunities to both opponents down the stretch.
“Obviously, we have to do a better job of keeping him in the game and protecting him,” Simmons said.
McNeese’s reliance on Guidry, McFerrin and Hardy is indicative of the team’s overall youth. All three are sophomores, and when McFerrin and Guidry are on the bench they are replaced by freshmen.
“We’ve got to simplify things more,” Simmons said. “For a team that has so many young players, we’re probably doing a bit too much. It’s simple basketball — hit your free throws, guard hard, rebound and get up the floor. We’re going to simplify things offensively and on the defensive end.”
If that solution results in steady production from McNeese’s sophomore big three, the numbers indicate the Cowboys will start to turn things around.