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The freshmen point guards for the Binghamton University men’s basketball team Yosef Yacob and Marlon Beck will face a pretty hefty early-season test this week with games against Cornell University’s Robert Hatter and Navy’s Tilman Dunbar.
Cornell’s Hatter, a freshman, is coming off a week in which he earned Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors and recorded a 20-point first half against Loyola University on Sunday.
Dunbar averaged 9.5 points and 4.9 assists per game last season as a freshman. He picked apart the Bearcats last season at Navy. He scored a game-high 16 points and dished out 11 assists (tied a Navy freshman record).
“I think that’s going to be a key for us moving forward that we can get good point guard defense,” Bearcats coach Tommy Dempsey said. “I think it all starts on defense with your ability to control the ball, to steal the ball. If the other team’s point guard can consistently break down your defense, you’re not going to be a very good defensive team.”
Yacob spoke following Tuesday morning’s practice in the Events Center about the importance of the Bearcats picking up their play on the defensive end after falling to both Loyola University and Brown University in their first two games.
Yacob said the team has played stretches of strong team defense, but they haven’t kept their intensity and effort level up for as long as they needed.
“Loud. Intense. Everyone running and talking, that’s what it should look like,” Yacob said. “And then it leads us to easy points. Playing D, you grab the board, and you push.”
However, Loyola shot 50 percent from the floor on Friday night, and Brown made 44 percent of its shots on Sunday. The Bearcats struggled to score against Brown, shooting just 30 percent from the floor. They scored just two fast break points.
“It starts with defense,” Yacob said. “If we play defense and they miss a shot, then you could crash (the glass). But we were playing bad D. They made their shots. We had to keep taking the ball out, and then walking the ball up, trying to run sets instead of just playing ball. That’s what really killed us.”
This week should be a decent measuring stick for where the young Bearcats are at as far as stopping penetration and playing on-ball defense against a pair of talented point guards.
“We’re really challenging our point guards to take a defensive role on this team,” Dempsey said. “It starts with them. It starts with their energy. When they’re out front guarding the ball, their ability to get on the ball and be energetic lifts everybody behind them that’s watching what’s going on as the defensive possession starts. We’re coaching them hard on the defensive end, and they’re responding.”