The men’s basketball team will travel to Winston-Salem, N.C., this Saturday for its second road game of the season, this time against the Wake Forest Demon-Deacons.
The Pirates will be looking for their seventh victory as they are now 6-2 on the season after securing their latest win at home against the NJIT Highlanders Tuesday night.
The Pirates latest victory was led yet again by junior guard Fuquan Edwin, who went 8-11 from the floor and was a perfect 4-4 from 3-point range. Edwin also led the team in rebounds, grabbing 10 in his second double-double of the season.
Although Edwin had another solid game, head coach Kevin Willard said he thinks that the starting offensive unit needs to get the ball to Edwin, and other leading scorer Eugene Teague, more often.
“That starting unit needs to understand who they are and who is on the floor,” Willard said. “That starting unit needs to get Fuquan and Eugene Teague the basketball and feed off those guys. They aren’t doing that right now. That’s something we need to address, because we need Fuquan to get going.”
As long as the Pirates can execute effectively on offense, Edwin looks to be on pace for another stand-out game against Wake Forest this weekend. Along with Edwin, there are a couple other players to look out for as well.
Graduate Kyle Smyth made a big impact on the Pirates latest win against NJIT, going 4-6 from 3-point range, capitalizing on the assists from his teammates.
Willard said that Smyth has been a valuable asset for the Pirates ever since he first joined the team.
“He’s a great glue guy.” Willard said. “He’s a guy everybody likes playing with because when you pass to him he gets an assist. He was valuable the second he stepped on campus.”
Along with Smyth, freshman center Kevin Johnson may also be contributing to the Pirates more often. Willard said that Johnson is improving after sitting out last year because of academic ineligibility.
“He came in and gave us great energy,” Willard said. “He’s progressed nicely and comes miles and miles in a short period of time.”
Although the Pirates have been exhibiting many positives, some of their early season struggles are still continuing. The Pirates have been struggling on their foul shots all season, going 68 percent from the foul line throughout their first eight games.
Senior guard Kyle Smyth said that the team could improve by letting the game come to them.
“We can’t be thinking too much on the court, you know,” Smyth said. “You just got to let everything flow.”
Another struggle that continued in the Pirates latest match up came for one single player. Junior forward Brian Oliver went 1-10 from the floor and 0-7 from three point range against NJIT. Although Oliver has been struggling to make his shots, but Willard said he is not worried, and it is something Oliver is working on.
“Not concerned at all because I know how well he can shoot the basketball.” Willard said. “Brian’s problem is he is never ready to shoot the basketball. It’s been an issue and we have shown him on film.”
The Pirates have not traveled much this season thus far, losing its only road game last Thursday against LSU. Smyth said that the team has to focus on the basics in a hostile environment in order to get a victory this weekend on the road.
“Well, it’s pretty basic stuff to be honest,” Smyth said. “It’s making sure that we rebound, making sure that we defend. We need to take care of the basketball on the offensive side of the ball, that’s one thing that we have been doing a shaky job of right now. That’s one thing we definitely need to do, especially in hostile environments.”
The Wake Forest Demon Deacons will are currently 3-2 on the season and 2-1 at home.
Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. on Saturday.
Courtney Hnasko can be reached at Courtney.Hnasko@student.shu.