BOCA RATON – Basketball is a game of numbers and when a team has three after three land in the net for Frank Booker and Gerdarius Troutman as they did as part of a 36-0 run against Edward Waters on Sunday, it’s easy to point to the Owls’ sharpshooting as the reason why FAU won their first game of the season.
But to Florida Atlantic coach Michael Curry, there’s something else that went into the Owls’ 98-64 massacre of the Tigers on Sunday.
“We have a thing that we call ‘kills’, which is if you get three stops in a row without any fouls, that’s considered a kill,” Curry explained. “If you get about seven of those a game, you’re going to win the majority of the time.”
Curry credited Texas Tech coach Chris Beard, who studied under the legendary Bob Knight with the Red Raiders, with bringing the kill statistic into his lexicon.
Why is three the magic number?
“I don’t know,” Curry laughed. “You always talk about it, even on the pro level, getting those three straight stops; so I’ve known it, but I’ve never asked about it. There’s something to it.”
Three does seem to be the magic number when it comes to success in the pro level. Baseball has ‘three up, three down’ and football has ‘three-and-out’, so could the newest trend in basketball be ‘going for the kill?’
The Owls had five kills each against Texas State and Hawaii, but it still wasn’t enough to take wins over either in the team’s island trip.
The Owls’ goal is seven kills per game. Against Edward Waters, they had 10.
“The guys understand that three times in Texas State and twice against Hawaii, we were one stop away from getting that kill and we fouled,” Curry said. “They understand that we need to focus on getting those three stops in a row.”
With how close the Owls played both Hawaii and Texas State, successfully getting those kills may have really been the difference between a 2-1 and 0-3 start in the islands.
If the Owls want to stay in the game against the University of South Florida – which sits at 2-1 on the season and has scored 70 or more in each of its first three games – on Tuesday night, they’ll need to make sure they get the kills in and avoid the fouls.
- TRENDING TOPICS
During last month’s Media Day, Booker cited both Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors as players he wanted to emulate and learn from. Booker’s love of the Dubs was apparent again after Sunday’s win, with the former Oklahoma guard saying “we’re kind of playing like Golden State in a way.” For as much as Booker loves the two-time defending Western Conference champions offensive play style, it may do the Owls some good to study the Warriors’ defensive game style as well; both have struggled in the early going, with FAU allowing an average of 69 points so far and the Warriors currently ranking 26th in the NBA with 108.6 points per game on .447 shooting. Golden State may get all of the attention – and the inspiration for plenty of young players – for their high-profile names and their record-breaking scoring, but it’s hard to win when a team is always within range of another.
- Sticking with the defense, Sunday was turning into a bit of a block party at one point as the Owls totaled seven blocks against the Tigers. Big men William Pfister and Ronald Delph combined for five blocks and with there being such an emphasis on kills, expect these two to become a dominant force in the front court when it comes to preventing shots.
Delph is really showing some major growth in these first four games, though the junior has had some turnover issues. After turning the ball over 36 times in 644 minutes last year, Delph already has nine in 99 minutes this season; that’s not only a turnover every 11 minutes, but that’s also going from 1.4 a game to 2.3, though Delph did only have one against Edward Waters. Knowing Delph has had some troubles with the ball, look for the Bulls to potentially play him close and try forcing steals from him – or, if they try too hard, send him to the line, where Delph made 68 percent of his shots from a year ago.
- Curry confirmed that sophomore forward/center Connor Shorten is no longer with the team. Shorten, who was on scholarship, averaged 0.8 points and 1.3 rebounds in ten games for the Owls last year. Though Shorten was not expected to start or have major minutes off the bench, this loss comes at a time where several of the big men, including Pfister, Delph and Jesse Hill, have battled foul trouble early in the season.
The good news for Conference-USA is that every team has won at least one game this year, with Marshall, Charlotte, and Old Dominion all sitting undefeated; the first two are 3-0, while Old Dominion is 2-0.
GAME OF THE WEEK
There’s only one game the Owls will play this week and that’s Tuesday’s home showdown with the University of South Florida Bulls. With FAU coming off a win where the players got to have some fun, along with the general excitement of an in-state rival coming to town before a holiday, Tuesday’s game is one that fans in the area won’t want to miss.