By Xavier Holloway/Asst. Sports Director
The Panthers blew out Webber International in their first match of the regular season last Wednesday night, 110-84, to improve their record to 1-0 on the season.
First year head coach Jeremy Ballard credited the players all-in approach to Ballard’s coaching philosophy of constantly competing with a high intensity level of play, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
“We want to be disruptive as possible” said coach Ballard. “The guys on the team have really bought in to our system in taking the opponents out of their offensive sets.”
Wednesday night, the Panthers took control of the game early on forcing Webber to commit turnovers on their first three offensive possessions, which led to a 10-0 run to start the game.
Last season’s Conference USA leading player in steals, Brian Beard, Jr. led the team in steals, nabbing four of them against Webber.
“I want to break the team steals and assists record this year” said Brian Beard, Jr. after the game against Webber.
When a player the caliber of Beard, a senior and arguably the most complete player on the team, is focused on defense and teamwork it inevitably trickles down to the rest of the players.
In Ballard’s inaugural game as head coach, his team profited 32 points off turnovers and 33 fast break points. If this type of output continues throughout the season, this high intensity team will be headed for an exciting time in March.
Redshirt Junior Devin Andrews led all scorers in the game with 23 points, while last seasons leading scorer Brian Beard, Jr. led the team in assists with 9.
The Panthers defense was the catalyst for the Panthers blowout victory and stalled Webber’s offense the entire night, including their best player, Tommie Luke, who came into tonight’s game averaging 18.5 points-per-game.
Tommie Luke finished the night with 13 points, making only 5 baskets from his 13 shooting attempts on the court.
Webber guards Malik Morrow and Garrett Woodmansee led their team in scoring with 14 points each.
Coach Ballard’s implementing philosophy of high intensity defense helped the Panthers grab 16 steals and 7 blocks against the Warriors.
The first year head coach also credited the support and energy of the crowd as one of the main catalyst for his players energy that night.
“We are extremely appreciative of the crowd coming out tonight. Our guys really fed off their energy and it was great to feel the spirit of all the fans in the building.”
The Panthers take on the Fordham Rams in New York City on Nov.16. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.
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