Friday, November 15, 2013

SoCon Monster Game of the Week: Samford at Indiana

The Samford Bulldogs head to Bloomington, Indiana, to take on the Big Ten's Indiana Hoosiers, one of the most historic programs in the country. It's a chance for Samford to take down a Big Ten team and add a huge out of conference win to their resume and to the SoCon's resume in general. Yes, the Bulldogs are a very good team. One of the best in the SoCon, the Bulldogs will be carrying the banner for the conference against a team that only beat LIU-Brooklyn by one their last time out. Can the Bulldogs accomplish even more? After their disappointing showing at UT-Arlington earlier this week, they have a lot to prove.

Samford is lead by Tim Williams, the big sophomore for the Bulldogs. He's looking to build on a solid freshman campaign with an even better sophomore season. So far this year, he's averaging 14 points and 14 rebounds per game. Williams is only shooting 39.1% from the floor through two games, so he is struggling a bit to find his range so far this year. He needs to get better looks and knock down more shots for Samford to be successful.

Raijon Kelly is one of the top point guards in the SoCon. He leads the Bulldogs in scoring with 16.0 points per game, is second on the team with 4.5 rebounds and leads the team with 4.5 assists. I know all these stats are small sample size and all, but Kelly is one of the most impressive players the Bulldogs have. He shot over 40% from three point range a year ago. He will need to be hot on this night in Bloomington for the Bulldogs to have their best chance at success.

Isaiah Williams is a freshman for the Bulldogs, and so far has been doing well, scoring nine in the loss to UT-Arlington following 16 in the opener. He's made 5 of 12 from long distance and looks like he can be a shooter than opens up the defense a bit. He's also coming up with 3.5 assists per game. That's pretty solid for a freshman.

Michael Bradley is someone the Bulldogs were hoping to get more from. The Chattanooga native that is a Connecticut transfer only scored two points with one rebound against UT-Arlington in nine minutes. In 18 minutes against Martin Methodist, he only scored 4 points with five rebounds. That wasn't that impressive either considering the competition. He is working his way back into basketball shape.

If you feel like you need a roster to identify most of these Indiana players after watching them for much of the last couple of years, well, you'd be right. No longer is Victor Oladipo there to save the day. This is a new team searching for a new identity. They have five players averaging in double figures at this point, two games in.

Will Sheehy is a senior who contributed a lot last year. He is averaging 14.5 points per game and eight rebounds per contest so far. He had 19 and 7 against Chicago State, before dipping to 10 and 9 against LIU-Brooklyn. If he can stay out of foul trouble, he will be a very valuable contributor to the Hoosiers this year.

Noah Vonleh is a 6-10 freshman that looks to be a tremendous player for the Hoosiers. In his first two collegiate games, he has recorded double doubles in both. Not a bad way to start off a career. He collected 14 rebounds against Chicago State, and then back that up with 17 points against LIU-Brooklyn. He could be a monster in this game.

Yogi Ferrell also had his moments a year ago.  He scored 7.6 points per game. This year, he has been in double figures in both games. He will be looking to score more this year as the Hoosiers rely on him more. He can put up big chunks of points.


Samford will have a very difficult time handling Sheehy and Vonleh inside the paint. They have Tim Williams, and it would be very useful if Bradley were ready to start playing a bigger role on this team. I don't think Bradley is quite there yet. The Hoosiers are not as dominant of a team as in recent years, giving the Bulldogs a shot in this one, but after losing against UT-Arlington, I'm having a hard time figuring out exactly how Samford wins this one. They keep it close and hang around, but don't pull it off. Indiana 78, Samford 69.

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