MIAMI SHORES, Fla. – Before Barry University men’s basketball departs for its longest road trip of the season, there are a couple things to consider.
One, while the No. 3-ranked Buccaneers are enjoying a great season – one of the best in school history – a month of the grind lies ahead. That means bus travel and a second look at opponents who saw you once in person and probably a few other times on film.
Two, keeping the hype in perspective is key to understanding the task at hand. So just because the Bucs ran the table in the first half of Sunshine State Conference play doesn’t mean they’re not going to get their opponents’ best this time around.
That time around begins 4 p.m. Saturday when Barry (16-1, 8-0 SSC) plays at Saint Leo (11-9, 3-5). The game will be carried on the Buccaneers Broadcast Radio Network.
“Any time you start the second line in the league, no matter what place you’re in, it’s about the mental focus,” Bucs assistant coach Justin Furr said. “Now it’s all about which team can carry out the game plan and execute for 40 minutes.”
Barry has not won in the Bowman Center since Feb. 27, 2010. That’s a string of five straight losses in Saint Leo. Saint Leo is 8-3 at home, but has lost two of its past three in the Bowman Center. All history aside, this Buccaneers team is different. They’ve proven that over the first half of the season.
“We’re a different team,” Furr said. “It’s a new year. Last year, they swept us. They’re one of the toughest teams to play. But it’s about game-to-game preparation and being mentally ready to play. I’m big on treating every game the same, and treating every opponent the same.”
Saturday’s opponent is built around forward Ron Foxx, who had 14 points, two blocks and five rebounds against the Bucs in Miami Shores in early December. Foxx leads the Lions in scoring at 15.9 points per game, while pulling down 5.4 rebounds.
“Our post guys are really going to have to get focused on doing their job and trying to stop him,” Furr said.
Lions guard Devin Crisosto went four of seven from the field, finishing with 10 points in 23 minutes, and forward Cale Girten had 11 points the first time these two teams met. Trey Griseck had 10 points and seven boards in 24 minutes. Crisosto is averaging 9.8 points, and is the team’s leader in assists.
Saint Leo is scoring 65.2 points per game, while holding teams to 61.3. The Bucs are averaging 87.9 points offensively, but were held to 64 in an eight-point win over the Lions in Miami Shores.
As for what’s transpired recently, the Bucs are coming off a home game in which all five starters scored in double figures. That followed a road game along the same West Florida trek in which Barry overcame a late 17-point deficit to win in two overtimes.
“It helps anytime you have an upper classmen team going into the second half of the season,” Furr said. “They have more of an investment.”
Still, this is fundamental Saint Leo we’re talking about. This is an opponent whose regimented system is polished without all the flash. This is a system that has worked.
“We’re going into the game with, in my mind, not one the best coaches in the conference, but the country,” Furr said of Lions coach Lance Randall. “He’s trying to get his guys motivated to play. What better motivation than to knock off the No. 3 team in the country.”
LAST TIME OUT: Barry used a strong second half to beat Tampa at home, completing the first half of Sunshine State Conference play ... All five starters reached double figures for the first time this year ... Jr. F Yunio Barrueta had 25 points, six rebounds and two steals ... Jr. G Anders Haas’ second half propelled a 23-point, three-assist outburst.
SERIES RECORD: Barry is 29-34 all time against Saint Leo ... The Bucs beat the Lions by eight earlier this season ... Barry is 9-19 at the Bowman Center ... The Bucs have lost four in a row in Saint Leo.
EYES ON OPPONENTS: The Lions are coming off a 70-60 loss at Nova Southeastern Wednesday ... Saint Leo has lost four of its last five ... Ron Foxx leads Saint Leo in scoring (15.8) and is third in rebounding (5.4) ... Devin Crisosto and Marcus Dewberry are both scoring 9.6 ppg ... Edmunds Dukulis is averaging 8.6 ppg and 5.6 reb.
SAINT LEO SWEEPS: The Lions have swept the season series the past three campaigns ... With a win Saturday, the Bucs would take that honor this season ... The last time Barry swept the series was 2010.
AIMING LOW: Barry’s 64 points against Saint Leo the first time around is a season-low ... The Bucs were also held to a low .214 three-point shooting ... Barry had a season-lows in triples (6) and turnovers (6) in that game.
UNDER/OVER on 10: In seven of the eight conference games, Barry has prevailed by nine points or less ... The Bucs have won eight games by double digits ... Barry’s last double-digit win was two weeks ago.
DARK HORSE DUNKER: Sr. F Jevoni Robinson will be entered in a Dark Horse Dunker competition on Facebook in February ... He will need votes in a bracket style Facebook competition to advance ... Stay tuned to Barry Athletics Facebook page and www.GoBarryBucs.com.
DYNAMIC DERIC: Sr. PG Deric Hill is one steal away from moving into eighth place on Barry’s all-time list ... With 13 more assists, he will own two of the top five season totals ... He owns the school record with 215 assists.
HOW’s THAT 4 STARTERS?: Only four times have four or more Bucs starters reached double figures in the same game ... At least three Barry starters have scored in double figures in seven games this year.
2014-15 BUCS RECORD WHEN ...
Overtime Games: 1-0
Home Games: 10-1
Road Games: 4-0
Neutral Games: 2-0
Night Games: 12-1
Day Games: 4-0
Leading at Halftime: 12-1
Trailing at Halftime: 4-0
Tied at Halftime: 0-0
After a Loss: 1-0
Scoring 80+ points: 12-0
Scoring 70-79 points: 3-1
Scoring 60-69 points: 1-0
Scoring 50-59 points: 0-0
Games Decided by 2 points or Less: 0-0
Games Decided by 5 points or Less: 2-1
Games Decided by 10 points or Less: 8-1
Games Decided by 11-20 Points: 2-0
Games Decided by over 20 Points: 6-0
Outrebounding Opponents: 13-1
Opponents Outrebound Bucs: 3-0
Matching Opponents in Rebounds: 0-0
Committing 15 or Fewer Turnovers: 10-0
Committing over 15 Turnovers: 6-1