The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports Columns

November 22, 2013

3 might be Mavericks' magic number

When the subject is Minnesota State men’s basketball in the Matt Margenthaler era, you think of great athletes who like to play fullcourt basketball, teams that may score 100 points but give up 90.

And you think about wins, given that the Mavericks have won about 70 percent of the games in Margenthaler’s 13 seasons.

But he said something interesting Tuesday night after his team easily defeated another inferior opponent: “We don’t have the athletes we’ve had in the past.”

Which is odd, considering the Mavericks just put 117 points on the board against Clarke College. But it seems true, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Other than bad opponents, one thing that has stuck out in the last three home games is that the Mavericks can shoot the basketball, especially when they’re not being guarded. The Mavericks have made 35 3-pointers in the last three games, shooting about 46 percent from behind the arc.

With center Assem Marei sidelined by a sprained ankle, there’s been more opportunity for the shooters, and six different players have taken advantage with made 3-pointers.

When Marei returns, and Margenthaler is hoping that he is back for the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference opener Nov. 30 at Concordia-St. Paul, defenses are going to have to decide to double-team the post or play tighter on perimeter shooters.

The Mavericks have had some pretty good shooters in the last decade, but this might be the most balanced perimeter group in Margenthaler’s tenure. You can’t sag off of point guard Zach Monaghan or wings Gage Wooten and Alex Hanks. When Zach Romashko, Mike Busack and Tanner Adler come off the bench, the defense better find them.

When Jayme Moten returns from injury, which might be Monday, he’s another perimeter threat.

Last season, when the Mavericks won 28 games, they made 5.6 3-pointers per game and shot 37.1 percent. Through six games, Minnesota State is averaging 8.5 3-pointers per game and shooting 41.5 percent.

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