The Binghamton University men’s basketball team is muddled in a five-game losing streak, which it will seek to snap when Hofstra University comes to the Events Center on Wednesday. But wins and losses aren’t the only problems the team has this year.
The Bearcats (1-5) have been struggling on both ends of the court, and it shows in the statistics. Team field goal percentage is at a meager 34.2 percent, down from 42.3 percent at the end of last season. They are shooting just 28.7 percent from 3-point range. Senior forward Greer Wright has carried the team on his back with his 15.2 points per game.
“You do have to keep shooting,” said Bearcats head coach Mark Macon. “I don’t like taking a lot of threes either, but right now I can’t take their confidence away from them and tell them not to shoot the ball if they’re open, because the guys that were shooting it, a lot of the time … were guys that could shoot the basketball.”
In addition to Wright, senior guard Chretien Lukusa is averaging 9.8 points per game, but every other player is below six points per game. That includes senior guard Moussa Camara, who averaged 10.8 points per game last year and is now only scoring 4.3 per contest with the worst field goal and 3-point percentages on the team.
“Moussa’s been on a terrible slump,” Macon said. “If you were to see him weeks ago in practice, he wasn’t missing anything. But for him to be out now and not making shots, I can’t say, ‘Don’t shoot the ball, son.’ I can’t say that. I gotta let him shoot the ball, because he might hit one, hit two, hit three and hit four.”
“Our offense is coming along,” Wright said of the struggles. “We work on it every day. We’ve just gotta keep working on it, and we’ll be OK.”
But Binghamton has been slow defensively as well. The team is being outscored by nearly 20 points per game and allowing opponents to shoot a cool 48 percent from the field, including 40.4 percent from downtown. The Bearcats are getting hammered on the boards, averaging eight fewer rebounds per game than their opponents, and have seven fewer assists per game than their foes.
“Getting revved up out there, it starts defensively,” Macon said. “It starts with getting a stop … it’s about getting those first few stops in a game, getting your energy pumped up. Those things we’re gonna have to go back to the drawing board and do … They’re gonna hate me for the next four or five days, but then we have Hofstra. Hopefully I won’t burn ‘em out, they come out and they’re revved.”
The Bearcats are coming off a 55-45 loss to Canisius College in which they cut a 16-point halftime deficit down to seven but could not completely close the gap. While there is a promising message in that effort, Wright feels that only one thing can satisfy all of the players after a game like that.
“We don’t like moral victories,” Wright said. “We want wins.”
“I want a whole 40 minutes of basketball, and it’ll come,” Macon said. “It’s tough; it’s not frustrating, I just hate to lose, but I understand that in losing there’s victory. We’re getting better, and that’s the victory. You see guys that you didn’t have high expectations for getting better.”
Hofstra’s squad is 5-3 this year and riding a three-game winning streak. The Pride went toe-to-toe with the storied North Carolina Tar Heels less than a month ago and play in the tough Colonial Athletic Association, which includes Drexel (whom the Bearcats lost to by 40 on Nov. 28) as well as one-time March Madness darlings George Mason, Old Dominion University and Virginia Commonwealth University.
The Bearcats last took on the Hofstra Pride on Dec. 1, 2005, and fell by a score of 69-55 on the road.
“Tough drills,” Macon said of how he would run practice in preparation for Hofstra. “A lot of offensive work, a lot of defensive work … just back to the basics, basic tough-man stuff … Hofstra has tradition. They weren’t bad years ago, they weren’t bad last year, they come from a pretty good conference.”
The Bearcats are set to take on the Pride at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Events Center.