Canisius' comeback effort fell just short against UT Martin. Three things we learned from the loss.
1. Canisius' offense is not great against the zone
UT Martin's base (and virtually only) defense is a 1-3-1 zone, which is unique if you're not used to playing against it.
Canisius is clearly not used to playing against it.
Too much of the Griff's offense came in the transition game (especially from an especially sloppy first half from UT Martin) as their half-court offense struggled. Canisius couldn't attack the corners (the weakness of a 1-3-1) and couldn't get three-point shots to fall. (the general weakness of all zone defenses)
But, on that later point, neither could UT Martin.
When you're not used to seeing a lot of zone defenses, 40 minutes of it can throw a team off. That happened to Canisius tonight.
The good news from this front on the Griffs is that they're a team that likes to shoot the three. A lot of times, you can shoot a team out of a zone. If you can't? Then nights like tonight happen.
2. Canisius didn't capitalize enough on UT Martin's first half mistakes
A lot of people, when talking about turnovers committed by the opposing team, talk about how they're "forced" by the defense. Tonight, that wasn't really the case.
The Skyhawks had plenty of first half miscues: 11 to be precise, but the Golden Griffins were only able to turn those turnovers into 9 points off turnover. That's too few. But there's a reason why: UT Martin wasn't being forced into a lot of turnovers that let Canisius run. They were instead making silly turnovers of the dead ball variety: passes out of bounds, (at least twice) traveling violations, and offensive fouls.
All turnovers aren't created equal, and while UT Martin was quite sloppy in the first half, Canisius was forced to run their half-court offense off those turnovers, instead of running in transition.
Read: Why Canisius should lead by more than four points. https://t.co/MFckPlBnUU
— Catlin Bogard (@CatlinBogard) November 22, 2016
As I said at halftime: given how badly UT Martin played in the opening 20 minutes, a four point lead was far too small.
3. Give the Griffs credit for battling to the end
When UT Martin went up 9 with about 10:00 to go, I thought it was game over for Canisius. UT Martin had all the momentum on their side of the floor, their players were jumping up and down on the bench on every basket. The Griffs were making all the same errors that the Skyhawks made in the first half.
But, that didn't happen. Canisius hung around for the next few minutes, staying in that 6-9 point range through the under 4 media timeout.
And then, UT Martin started making errors again. And Canisius was able to mostly take advantage.
Canisius head coach Reggie Witherspoon said he told his team they couldn't wait until the end of the game to play with that kind of energy, saying that lacked that energy at the start of the second half.
So, where was the Griff's energy the first 36 minutes? Witherspoon says his team is too reliant on three's for that boost, and when you go 6-30 from deep, it's too few and far between.