Home Sports Basketball Notebook: Guard rotation still in flux, but there are options

Notebook: Guard rotation still in flux, but there are options

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Adjusted for pace and strength of schedule, the Texas State men’s basketball team had the nation’s 331st-most efficient offense last season.

For context, there are 351 Division I teams.

While defense remains a staple of Coach Danny Kaspar’s system—Texas State placed 62nd in adjusted defensive efficiency—the offense didn’t pull its weight last year.

Kaspar is tinkering with a screen-and-roll offense this season, incorporating the team’s post motion offense, which features Emani Gant, senior forward, as the primary option.

A screen-and-roll offense needs guards to run the system without a hitch. The Bobcats are losing D.J. Brown and Wesley Davis, a backcourt duo who combined for 1,745 minutes last year.

JaMarcus Weatherspoon—another member of last year’s backcourt rotation—transferred to Southern this season. While on the court, Weatherspoon utilized 20.4 percent of the team’s possessions.

Suffice to say, there are minutes and opportunity at guard.

Kaspar is looking for K.J. Malveau, freshman guard, Bobby Conley, junior guard, and Anthony Roberson, sophomore guard, to fill the vacancies.

Kaspar hopes Conley will play multiple positions. Conley, a transfer from Palm Beach State Junior College, provides Kaspar with ball handling, defense and shooting. He averaged 11 points and four assists while tallying 53 steals last season.

Malveau is the offense-minded guard of the bunch, averaging over 20 points per game at Everman High School prior to injuring his shoulder and missing the rest of the season.

Roberson is expected to play at small forward and backup Kavin Gilder-Tilbury, junior forward. The priority for Roberson is defense.

“That’s where we still might have a little bit of an Achilles heel, and we’ll find out if we are covered there or not,” Kaspar said.

Conley, Malveau and Roberson are complementing Ethan Montalvo, senior guard, who is returning to the team.

Perimeter shooting—or the lack thereof—cramped Texas State’s spacing and allowed multiple defenders to be sent to Gant, the Bobcats’ best offensive player.

The Bobcats attempted 506 3-pointers last season and converted on 31.5 percent of 3-pointers. The team ranked 287th in 3-point percentage and 289th in 3-pointers attempted.

It’s up to Montalvo, who accounted for 32 percent of the team’s 3-point attempts, to increase his efficiency without sacrificing volume.

“Last year he had some shooting slumps,” Kaspar said. “Hopefully Ethan is going to be very confident, much more confident, where he can be more consistently effective as far as an offensive player is concerned.”

The guard rotation is still not settled, but Kaspar has plenty of options to choose from.

Formidable frontcourt: Gant and Gilder-Tilbury form what Kaspar believes will be one of the best frontcourts in the Sun Belt Conference.

The trick, of course, is for Kaspar to get Gant and Gilder-Tilbury to buy into his philosophy. Accountability and toughness are the tenets of basketball for Kaspar.

Kaspar is looking for maturity and toughness in Gant and Gilder-Tilbury.

The coach recalled when Gant allowed emotions to get the best of him against UTSA. He earned his second technical, resulting in an automatic ejection, and the Roadrunners turned a two-point deficit into a 12-point lead.

Gilder-Tilbury faced the same maturity questions. Kaspar brought up an instance when Gilder-Tilbury wasn’t happy with the offense. He blamed the offense for his shooting woes.

“I brought him in my office and said, ‘Okay, what’s the difference?’” Kaspar said. “‘What happened? What is it that makes it to where you hit the shots and to where you don’t hit them?’ And there was a lot of silence in the room. Again, you brought these questions up, and that’s why I bring up the word maturity.”

Gant and Gilder-Tilbury almost represented one-third of Texas State’s offense last year. But the potential is there for even more this season.

“If those two will do what I ask them to, I agree with you that they have the ability to make big waves in the league,” Kaspar said.

Gant’s defense: Kaspar made it a point to discuss Gant’s defense. He wants more defense from his senior forward, who led the team in scoring and rebounding last season.

“I can’t just make it about your scoring, Emani (Gant),” Kaspar said. “We love you as a scorer. You’re very pretty as an offensive player. He needs more makeup as a defensive player.”

This challenge shouldn’t come as a surprise to Gant, given Kaspar’s defensive background.

“He’ll smile at it because he’s heard it all the time,” Kaspar said. “These young men. I think Emani (Gant) has the ability to go play overseas, I really do. We gotta make this about our team, but we also have to make it about (Emani Gant) being successful on the next level too.”