Offensive stagnation hurting CHSBy JOSHUA CAMPBELL,
There are a lot of questions right now for the Columbia Wildcats on the hardwood, and they are working hard to answer them to turn around their 3-5 start.
The Wildcats began last week at .500 and had the look of a team poised to end the night with a winning record, but they fell apart in the second half at home Dec. 4 against Wayne County and lost 65-40. Wayne County outscored Columbia 41-17 in the second half, and head coach Charlie James is searching for a solution.
“Right now for some reason we’re starting to stand around, just look and not really execute. We’re kind of out of sync a little bit in getting guys involved,” he said. “I thought over the last two games, we dropped them, but in the first half we were competitive. The second (half) we kind of lose focus and fall apart. My goal right now is to get them to put together a complete game.”
The War Eagles deployed a tough zone defense that suffocated driving lanes, and it forced the Wildcats to take more jump shots than they would like. TJ Monroe was held under 10 points for just the second time since Feb. 10, 2016, and he tied with Daquan Ball with nine points each to pace the Wildcats. Tykelvis Wright only made one shot, but he hauled in a team-high nine rebounds to go along with two assists, two steals and a block.
It didn’t get much easier Friday night in Magnolia as Columbia fell 70-53 to South Pike. South Pike drilled 10 three-pointers on 50 percent shooting from behind the arc, while the Wildcats made just 1-of-13 from distance. James said the Wildcats need to do a better job offensively on forcing the issue, getting inside and dictating the action.
James said they’re not attacking the basket like early in the season.
“We have to get back to being more aggressive. We’re not playing as tough as we were. It’s like we’re confused as a group,” he said.
James added that the defense didn’t do enough to disrupt South Pike’s shooters, and Monroe needs to shoulder more responsibility as a scorer.
“He has to lead us in shot attempts, and the last couple of games he’s been differing to some other guys, trying to get them incorporated into the offense,” he said.
That coincides with getting more looks at the rim, where he has always been extremely efficient, and he is making 61 percent of his two-point attempts. While he has canned two triples per game to start the season, Monroe is shooting 33 percent from behind the arc, where 56 percent of his shots are coming from. A season ago when his scoring average was at 21.2 points per game — compared to 17.9 this season — only 46 percent of his shots were from deep.
Monroe was effective when he did shoot against South Pike, making 7-of-11 shots from the field for 16 points, but 11 attempts is far below his average. Darius Stewart was the only other Wildcats to score in double figures, chipping in 10 points while making all eight of his free throw attempts.
Working on offensive schemes is going to be a focus for the Wildcats in practice, according to James, and he said 6-foot-6 big man Jaheim Oatis will be an emphasis in the game plan. They’re working on him getting position inside, as well as using off-the-ball screens.
“We haven’t been executing properly. The best way I can explain it is we’re standing around looking at the game,” James said.
Columbia hosted North Forrest Tuesday night (results unavailable) before heading to Magee (0-8) Friday night for a date with the Trojans.
Pictured Above: Columbia shooting guard TJ Monroe drains a three-pointer. | Photo by Joshua Campbell