After losing to good teams like Oregon, Michigan and Bowling Green earlier this season, many fans began to question whether the Titans could play consistent and effective basketball in games against other talented teams and win.
While, I’m sure there were some fans who had their doubts. The Titans once again proved their doubters wrong, as they went on to defeat the South Florida Bulls in a tough one at home with a final score of 67-57.
If you ask me, the main reason that the Titans were able to win this game, was because of their tough defense. However, the other contributing factor was the game pace which was set by the Titans, not to mention the next man-up mentality that allowed each Titan to contribute and make an impact.
However, I will start with the defense.
Titans Win the Turnover Battle
Since the season began, many have thought highly of the Titan defense. Although they had their hiccups in this game defensively. The Titans did do a good job of forcing turnovers and scoring off those turnovers as they finished the game with 16 forced turnovers and 25 points off those turnovers.
For the Titans, their success defensively had a lot to do with their communication. South Florida tended to do a lot of dribble hand-offs, not to mention a lot of off-ball cutting. While, South Florida had its successful moments, it was the Titan defense that won out, as they did a great job of communicating, playing the passing lanes and executing off turnovers.
Detroit Made South Florida Play Titan Basketball
When it comes to the basketball pace of the Titans, I have said since the season began that the Titans must play Titan basketball if they want to win consistently. Although they have done that against weaker teams. They haven’t always forced better teams to do that, which is one of the reasons, they loss to Oregon, Michigan and Bowling Green.
However, in their win against South Florida, the Titans did a great job of playing Titan basketball, as they found a good balance offensively by making plays both in the half court setting and in transition.
Then if that’s not enough, the Titans defensive pace was also good, as they forced South Florida to speed up, make bad decisions with the ball and make tough shots. Which is one of the reasons, the Titans were able to hold them to 57 points when they actually average 72 points per game.
Anton Wilson Makes Everything Look Good From Three
I don’t know if it was something in the Titans water bottles or if Anton Wilson was just feeling it, but he was absolutely sensational for the Titans, especially from the three-point line. No matter where he shot it from, it was like butter, as he made four of his five three-point attempts in the first half.
Although he didn’t have the same impact in second half that he had in the first half. He was one of the main reasons that the Titans were able to stay in this game and make a comeback in the first half, after being down by five points.
Bass and Howard Jr. Struggle Early But In The End They Come Up Big
Keep in mind, that Wilson was not only the one who stepped up for the Titans in this one. Two other Titans by the name of Paris Bass and Juwan Howard Jr. also stepped up, even though they struggled early on to get going offensively.
Now, when it comes Bass, he just never seemed to get into a rhythm, as he struggled to get penetration and hit it shot from beyond the arc. However, the thing that stood out about Bass, was the fact that his offensive struggles didn’t stop him from making an impact in other areas. Whether it was defensively or on the boards, Bass found a way to make an impact, as he finished with four rebounds, two blocks and one steals. Although he struggled offensively, he still hit all of his three of his four free throws. Not to mention, he also made a tough but key lay-up late in the second half to give the Titans a bigger lead.
As for Howard Jr., his early struggles had to do with the fact that he got into early foul trouble and had to sit down for most of the first half, which was due to the referees not allowing the players to play physical. Even though, in the second half I felt like Howard tried a little much to make up for lost time, as he took a few unnecessary three pointers and force a couple of shots in the paint. Just like Bass, he didn’t let his struggles stop him from making an impact, as he made a key three pointer to extend the Titans lead in the late part of the second half, as well as a two-handed dunk to seal the Titans victory late in the second half.
Titans Get Rebounded But The Rebounding Numbers Have Improved For The Titans
Rebounding is something the Titans have struggled with all season, which is not a surprise considering that I said they would struggle with it at the beginning of the season.
However, in spite of the fact that South Florida did out-rebound Detroit, 33 rebounds to 26 rebounds, I did see an improvement out of the team when it came to their rebounding in today’s win. The main area of improvement was the fact that as a team everyone seemed to do a better job of hitting the boards. In the past, only one of two players would hit the boards but against South Florida everyone contributed, which is why you had a number of players like Howard Jr., Hogan, Grant, Ackerman and Bass, who all finished with three rebounds or more.
Again, I’m not saying that this was a great rebounding effort by the Titans, but it was a much improved rebounding effort by the Titans.
Next Man Up Continues To Be A Key Part to the Titans Success
Finally, it’s no secret that the Titans are a talented team this season. Although, they don’t always go with the starting rotation that I want or make the right substitution choices at the right time. There is no doubt that this team has truly adapted to the next man up mentality.
In short, everyone on the team is willing to do their part and go the extra mile for this team to be successful. I know if you look at the stat sheet you will only see three players (Bass, Howard Jr. and Wilson) in double figures. However, what the stats may not show you is how big of impact players like Jaleel Hogan, Matthew Grant, Brandan Kearney and Patrick Ackerman have.
When it came to Hogan and Ackerman, they only combined for a total of six points. However, both players made an impact on the boards, finishing the game with a total eights rebounds together. Plus, both players made an impact defensively, as Ackerman finished with two blocks and Hogan finished with two steals.
The same goes for Kearney and Brundidge. If you look at the stat sheet, you will see that while Kearney struggled to score today, as he finished with three points. He did find ways to ways make an impact. What the stats don’t show you is that Kearney was “Mr.Hustle” for the Titans today. Whenever they needed someone to dive on the floor for a loose ball, Kearney was the guy. When they needed someone to take hard blow and get the charge or make a good defensive play, Kearney was the guy.
Kearney wasn’t the only one, Brundidge was also the guy. Now mind you, he only had five points and two assists in this game. However, Brundidge’s buzzer beater three pointer going into halftime, was the ultimate momentum shift for the Titans. Not only did it increase Detroit’s lead over South Florida going into halftime but it also kept the momentum and that “we can do this” mentality on point for the Titans, as it took the air out of South Florida.
So did all of the Titans score in double digits? No.
However, each Titan did contribute to this win in some way, which is one of the reasons that they were able to walk away with a good victory.
Overall, this was a great victory for the Titans, which was brought on by good defense and overall game pace by the Titans. Although, they still have some areas to improve on, it looks good that this team was able to earn a tough victory at home against a talented South Florida team who will probably do some damage American Athletic Conference, this season.
Nevertheless, while this was a good victory, the Titans can’t afford to dwell on it. They need to take this victory and review the good and bad from it. Most importantly, they need to enter practice this upcoming week with their minds on their upcoming match-up against No. 8 ranked Wichita State.
Written by LBeasley (Lauren Beasley), Producer of “The Morning Heat” on Hot 107.5 and Sports Editor of Radio One Detroit
For more of L-Beasley’s (Lauren Beasley) sports news and in-depth sports content, click here.
A Great Team Effort Leads Detroit To Victory As They Defeat South Florida, 67-57 was originally published on wchbnewsdetroit.com