Park University will take on (21)MidAmerica Nazerine Tuesday night at the Breckon Sports Center, a game that may be the toughest test for Park so far in this young season. Park hasn’t seen the type of basketball MNU plays this season, and it could be a shock for the Pirates.
Every coach dreams of having an offense like the one MNU puts on the court. Coming into Tuesday night, the Pioneers lead the N.A.I.A. in assists per game. A pure team attack every night, four Pioneers average double digits. Their highest scorer, senior guard Jordan Whelan, only averages 16.86 points per game. Senior guard Nick Syrie runs the offense posting an 8.57 assists per game mark, and his overall mark of 60 assists leads the nation. MNU’s high assist rate leads to an outrageous mark of 99.86 points per game, and an efficient overall field goal percentage of 52 percent.
The Pioneers not only shoot the ball well, they can defend well too. They rank in the top ten in defensive field goal percentage, blocks per game, and defensive rebounds per game. Chris Parker and Justin Randall lead the team with 1.50 steals per game and 2.43 blocks per game, respectively.
Aggressive defense will be the key to this game for Park. Averaging 11 steals per game, good for 10th in the nation, the Pirates will need to continue their stingy ways. Steal opportunities will be plentiful with MNU’s high passing rate, and Park will have to take advantage. The Pioneers aren’t the only ones who can pass the ball though. Park ranks 7th in the nation with 21 assists per game, with the offense going through the team’s leading scorer Xavielle Brown. The back court tandem of Brown and B.J. Watson will be the Pirates go to all night.
For Park to tally their first top 25 win this season, they will have to put MNU in a position they haven’t been all season; relying on individual scoring. If the Pirates can create chaos and frustration with their aggressive defense, the Pioneers don’t have a player than can put the team on his back. If MNU continues their methodical assist driven offense, Park doesn’t feature the consistency to keep up. This game will come down to the steal and assist column. Whichever team can keep to their season norms will win this game.
Prediction: Park- 87, MNU-84