It’s not worth overanalyzing an exhibition game, but I’d like to get in the habit of these day-after posts and there are a couple of things we learned during Evansville’s romp over Wabash on Saturday.
So here are some leftover notes and quotes from the Aces’ 95-65 win. You can read my game story here.
1. Duane Gibson’s knee injury hurts the Aces, but UE has the depth to overcome it.
Jaylon Brown split minutes with Gibson last year at the point, and D.J. Balentine and Harris Brown can ably play both guard positions. Coach Marty Simmons said Christian Benzon is also a combo-type guard who can bring the ball up the court if needed.
Still, it’s hard not to feel bad for Gibson, who tore the meniscus in his knee for the second time in five months. He is expected to be out four weeks.
“He’s as tough as any player we’ve got,” Simmons said. “I feel fortunate that it’s not worse than maybe what it could’ve been and I feel bad because he’s put in a lot of time and effort through the rehab. But he’s a tough kid, he’s a team guy. I think he’ll stay sharp through the rehab and I think he’ll be able to contribute right when he gets back.”
Gibson is especially good at pushing the ball in transition, so his absence court hurt the Aces’ fast-break game the most.
2. Harris Brown looked pretty good in his debut.
The 5-foot-11 freshman didn’t get on the court until the second half but still scored eight points and handed out five assists in 13 minutes.
“I give him credit just for staying engaged and into the game because a lot of times if you don’t play that first half it’s hard to stay involved,” senior forward Adam Wing said. “He’s a pretty mature player for how young he is so just give him credit for staying locked in, and when it was his time he produced.”
3. The Aces’ interior defense looked shaky at times.
For being a blowout, it was pretty easy to pinpoint Evansville’s biggest deficiencies. The Aces allowed 34 points in the paint and gave up 14 offensive rebounds.
Simmons acknowledged those are areas the Aces need to shore up next week before their regular-season opener against Southeast Missouri State.
“As a staff, we’ve got to do a better job of recognizing the areas that we really, really need to improve in and make a commitment to that,” he said. “Too many times we’re trying to get better at everything instead of being more specific and getting better at maybe three or four areas. I think that (interior defense and rebounding) will be our focus.”
Other areas for UE to improve, according to Simmons: shot selection and extending stretches of good play.
“I thought we had good spurts, good stretches, but we don’t sustain it. I know at 32-18 we turned it over twice and give up baskets there instead of being strong and extending the lead.”
“Instead of executing our offense and getting what we want, we maybe settled too much with a perimeter shot. We can get that shot later if we’ll just work to grind it out and get an inside bucket or drive the ball.”