By Kyle Spencer
Emani Gant is putting up his numbers per usual. The senior is having a great year from the floor shooting over 50% from the field and 73% from the line averaging a shade under 14 points per game. He is also pulling down around eight boards a game. Cam Naylor, another senior, has come into his own as a decent scorer and even a second option with Gant on the bench. Breaking his career high in points twice with 20 points against Arkansas State and then 22 points against South Alabama. He is also a solid defender in the paint. Not a big time shot blocker but occupies the lane very well. Kavin Gilder-Tilbury’s offensive improvement has been impressive this season, averaging a little over 12 points a game. Throughout his career Kavin has shown flashes of serious offensive potential. With his build, and ability to handle and shoot the ball, Kavin has the potential to be one of the best scorers in the conference. Anthony Roberson is another long and lengthy forward who is very gifted on the defensive end. He is quickly becoming a look down defender. This group of frontcourt players collectively dominate the glass as well. Bringing in a large percentage of the teams rebounds. Kavin, Emani and Cam make up three of top four scorers on the team.
Ethan Montalvo is lights out from deep, shooting 37% from the arc and has improved on the defensive side of the ball. Montalvo is Texas State’s only real deep threat. Defenders have to stay attached to his hip or he will fire at will and he has the green light at all times. Montalvo had the best game of his career against Little Rock. 28 total points, five 3-pointers, and 9-9 from the free throw line. Montalvo struggled with consistency early in his career, but has been consistent all year at 10 points per game and leads the team in made 3-pointers with 60. Ojai Black, the Bobcats leading dime-dropper, is averaging around three assists a game, and is dangerous defensively. His quickness and hustle make him a solid defender. Black does struggle from the floor with only six made 3-pointers and 39% shooting from the field. Bobby Conley, the newly acquired transfer, has shown some impressive flashes of scoring. Conley also does a good job taking care of the ball averaging under one turnover a game. But has had trouble scoring as well. He was meant to be a scorer off the bench, but has struggled at times to points on the boards. Texas State’s backcourt has seen some difficulty scoring, but are solid with on the ball defense.
Defense is the staple for Texas State basketball. Kaspar wakes up every morning thinking of defense and it shows. Opponents are only putting up around 60 points on the Bobcats and are shooting 41% from the field when facing this vicious defense. Roberson’s and Tilbury’s length and athleticism on the perimeter causes a lot of problems for wing players. Combined with the quickness of the backcourt provides a defense that can be very frustrating and tough to score on. While Texas State does not have a shot blocker on the team, all of the players do a great job protecting the paint by going straight up when defending, and taking charges. Most of the games Texas State has won, or been close to winning is due to their suffocating defense.
Past Naylor, the Texas State bench lacks scorers. While there are players that provide excellent effort and defense, the offense for Texas State becomes stagnant without the starting unit. If Montalvo isn’t hitting shots or Tilbury and Gant are in foul trouble, there is no one that the Bobcats can really give the ball to. Roberson has the size and athleticism to make him an effective slasher, but has not found his rhythm offensively yet as a scorer. Plus his main role is to defend. Kaspar also keeps a tight shift on the players that see minutes. An 8-man rotation is usually what you see for this team, and that is normal, but within those 8 players none of them have a serious offensive mindset.
Texas State has improved on the defensive end, but is inconsistent at times. The offense hasn’t really changed, and on a night where everything is falling for the opposition they end up in a real bind. Offensive adjustments haven’t really been made for this team. They are athletic and fast but seem to play a slower pace to coincide with their half-court defense. The offense can get very stagnant sometimes and in certain stretches Texas State can look lost with the ball in their hands. The Bobcats are not in terrible shape. The defense needs a little more consistency on a night in night out basis, but is solid overall. Possibly some new offensive sets and a little faster pace would bode well for the Bobcats.
Featured image by Madison Tyson.