Updated: Dec 16, 2019
A full week after being victorious for a ninth game in a row, the Macs will head up I-95 in search of the program’s second ever double-digit winning streak. In their way stands a team which has made the NCAA DIII Tournament in two of the past three years, but has struggled so far this season. The Eastern Connecticut State Warriors have been the class of the Little East Conference in recent times, yet are a mediocre 3-4 through their first seven games. The Warriors have been a streaky team in 2019, as evidenced by their “live by the three, die by the three” approach. They have yet to play a game this season decided by less than 15 points.
The Eastern Connecticut State offense runs through senior guard Jake Collagan, who knocked down 10 threes in one game last year. The Warriors run set plays, trying to get Collagan a quick, open look. If this doesn’t work, they’ll typically go to a ball screen and try to get the rock into the middle, with the goal of either hitting someone going to the basket or finding a man in the corner for three. Cory Muckle, who loves to shoot from the corner, has actually had significantly more field goal attempts than Collagan this season, and can take over a game if he gets going from outside. Thomas Close and Seth Thomas don’t have great range, but are good options for the Warriors inside the arc.
Keys to the Game:
1) Force Collagan off of the 3-Point Line
The Warriors’ offense is predicated on Collagan making shots
The Macs will utilize Ryan Turell’s length by placing him on Collagan
The goal of this is to make Collagan choose between shooting over size and driving to the basket
Making Collagan uncomfortable will lessen the effectiveness of the Warriors’ best player
2) Hedge and Recover Properly
The Warriors like to use ball screens to open up driving and shooting opportunities
The Macs need to communicate that these screens are coming so that the defender left without a man to guard can jump in front of the ball-handler and prevent him from driving to the basket (hedge)
After hedging the screen, the YU defender must make sure to run back to his man (recover)
If the Macs properly hedge and recover, they will force the Warriors into taking low percentage shots
3) Slow Down Their Transition Offense
Eastern Connecticut State likes to get down the floor in transition and create open three-pointer opportunities
The Macs should, as Assistant Coach Eli Katz calls it, “jam the boards”
This means that a YU player should get in the face of the rebounder and prevent them from running the floor, which will allow other Macs players the time to get back on defense
What Should We Expect in Today's Matchup:
The Macs are certainly the better team on paper, and have played much better than Eastern Connecticut State this year. That said, it is never easy to play on the road, especially after traveling 3 hours on a Sunday morning. I would expect the Macs to win, but not necessarily by double-digits. YU is probably about an 8 point favorite in this one.
This game also feels like a first-to-80 matchup. The winning teams in Eastern Connecticut State's seven games have finished with 74, 88, 78, 83, 81, 79, and 83 points. The Macs typically put up a lot of points, but they didn't break 80 in any of their four road matchups to start the year. Therefore, I would expect the total number of points scored today to be about 150, if not a little less.
How to Watch/Follow:
This first-ever meeting between two tourney hopefuls will tip-off at 2 PM. Click here to watch the Eastern Connecticut State broadcast. If you are unable to watch, click here to access our in-game scoreboard. As always, make sure to check back after the game for our recap.