MIAMI SHORES, Fla. -- Butch Estes was in a rush. It was his wife's birthday.
But the 31-year head coach needed to get his first team at Barry ready with one more devoted practice before the Buccaneers begin play in the Lynn Courtyard by Marriott Holiday Classic in Boca Raton Friday and Saturday. Barry (7-0) will play Clayton State (4-3) and No. 13 Livingstone (6-1) at 5:30 p.m. in back-to-back nights, respectively.
"At the end of the day, it's time," Estes said. "It's time to play the top teams. I don't think we're there yet, but if we're gonna get there, we've got to play those teams, and we ultimately have to beat those teams. The first step is to go play those teams, and see where you stand."
The Bucs have held their past two opponents to 67 points or less, marking the first time this season they've done that. Barry is surrendering just over 72 points per game. Four opponents have scored over 70 points on the Bucs.
Clayton State is averaging just under 70 points per game while shooting 44.8 percent from the floor. Livingstone is scoring 87.4 points and giving up 73.2. The Blue Bears are shooting 47.1 percent from the field.
Clayton State forward Charles Shedrick averages slightly better than 18 points a game. Lakers guards Craig Wong and Sidarius Henry are both averaging in double figures, and newly-activated Omari Murray has averaged 12 rebounds and 11.5 points in his first two games. Livingstone guards Mark Thomas and Jody Hill, both Michigan products, are each scoring over 16 points per game. The Blue Bears are outrebounding their opponents by eight boards per game.
Barry has five players scoring in double figures, with Yunio Barrueta straddling the line at exactly 10 points per game. He leads the Bucs in rebounds at 9.0 per game. Juan Ferrales is scoring 19 points a contest.
"I think we're getting comfortable with the system," Estes said. "I think the kids have lived up to what I thought they would do. They're very unselfish. They're a tough, resilient team. They're a competitive bunch of guys, and so there's a lot of qualities about this group that I like. I just hope that we're good enough, talent wise, to compete at the top level. But the way we're playing for the most part, and there's a lot of room for improvement -- particularly on the defensive end of the floor, which really surprsises me -- but that's where it is. There's room for improvement, but I think we've found ourselves as a team. We know our roles. We're in a pretty good position at the moment."
Barry is averaging 18.4 assists per game in a share-the-ball system which Estes has preached from Day 1. That's contributed to the Bucs' success.
"Every day is pretty important and crucial, and each game is a situation into itself," Estes said. "Let's just take one game at a time, keep building, keep trying to get better. Our goal, we certainly want to win ultimately, but it's to play our best each game. For the most part, for where we are, I think we've achieved those goals through seven games."
As they head into the Christmas break, that unselfish nature is paramount. Now as for Estes, who had a birthday girl to get to, the question is how unselfish was he going to be this day?
"That's a pretty good question," he said chuckling. "Well, let's say, we practice early today so I can make sure I be there when she blows out the candles."
Barry University is hoping this party is just getting started.
LAST TIME OUT: Barry beat Claflin, 81-65, on Friday ... Magne Fivelstad and Yunio Barrueta both had double-doubles.
SERIES RECORD: Barry has never played Clayton State or Livingstone in the basketball program’s 30-year history.
EYES ON OPPONENTS: Clayton State is coming off losses to Georgia Southwestern and Columbus State after winning four in a row ... The Lakers lost to Belmont Abbey, a team the Bucs beat by two, 92-81, in the season opener ... Charles Shedrick is averaging 18.1 ppg ... Omari Murray has grabbed 24 rebounds and scored an average of 11.5 ppg in his first two games since being cleared ... Craig Wong (12.6) and Sidarius Henry (11.3) are both scoring in double figures for Clayton St. ... Livingstone is coming off its first loss of the year, a one-point defeat to No. 3 Drury, the defending NCAA Division II champs, in the Cruzin’ Classic in Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday ... Mark Thomas is averaging 16.8 ppg and 3.8 assists ... Jody Hill is scoring 16.4 ppg ... Eric Mayo is pulling down 7.8 reb ... Blue Bears coach James Stinson won his 400th career game Tuesday.
SIZING UP UNKNOWNS: For the fourth and fifth times this year, Barry will play against teams it has never met before on the basketball court ... Coach Butch Estes has never coached against six of the first seven teams the Bucs already beat, nor has he coached against the next two.
AGAINST RANKED TEAMS: The Bucs will play their first ranked team of the season Saturday when they meet the Blue Bears ... Barry’s last game against a ranked team came in last year’s SSC quarters when they lost to No. 10 Florida Southern, 75-57.
DWINDLING DOWN: Barry is one of 24 unbeaten teams in NCAA Division II ... The Bucs will play one of those teams when they meet Florida Southern after the holiday break.
SSC PLAYER OF WEEK: Jr. F Savad Garner (Greenville, S.C.) was named the Sunshine State Conference Player of the Week ... Garner had 20 points, 12 rebounds, two blocks, two assists and a steal and shot 9 of 12.
TWICE AS NICE: Savad Garner’s SSC Player of the Week selection marks the first time in over five years Barry has had multiple league weekly award winners ... Juan Ferrales was the SSC Player of the Week earlier this year.
UP THE COAST: Barry will play the second of three teams from the three states north of Florida this week ... Claflin is based in S.C. ... Clayton St. is from Georgia ... Livingstone is from N.C.
LEADING LEAGUE: Barry leads the SSC in FT % (75.0), FG % (.485), rebounding margin (15.3) and offensive rebounds (16.3).
LEAGUE LEADERS: Juan Ferrales leads SSC in 3-pt FG per game (3.6) ... Savad Garner leads the league in offensive rebounds (3.7).
BOARDING SCHOOL: Savad Garner, Magne Fivelstad and Yunio Barrueta rank in the top five in the SSC in offensive rebounds per game ... The three of them combined are averaging just under 10 offensive rebounds per game.
6 FOR 20: Barry has had a player score 20 points or more in six games this season ... Juan Ferrales has done it four times.
AMONG BEST: Deric Hill ranks fourth in the nation in assists per game (7.7) ... He is sixth in steals per game (2.9).
SETTING NEW STANDARDS: Barry is on pace to become one of the highest-scoring teams in school history ... The Bucs (86.4) rank second all-time ... The 1986-87 team averaged 90.3.
FIVELSTAD FREE THROW FORM: Magne Fivelstad ranks sixth all-time in career free throw shooting at 78.5 percent.
FRESHMAN ON FIRE: Fr. F Adrian Gonzalez’s 11 field goals vs. PR-Mayaguez is the most by a freshman in school history.
FREE THROW PERFECTION: Barry was a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line vs. Ave Maria ... The last time a Bucs team was perfect from the stripe was Jan. 8, 2011 in a 77-55 win over Florida Southern. when they went 7-for-7.
SEASON LOW TOs: Barry committed a season-low eight turnovers in the last game Tuesday ... Barry and its opponents are both averaging 16.1 turnovers per game.
BOLANOS UPDATE: Injured Jr. G Derrick Bolanos will see a specialist on Friday to determine whether he can begin rehab.
HOLIDAY BREAK: Barry won’t play for 15 days at the break.
BUCS RECORD WHEN ...
Overtime Games: 0-0
Home Games: 6-0
Road Games: 1-0
Neutral Games: 0-0
Night Games: 7-0
Day Games: 0-0
Leading at Halftime: 5-0
Trailing at Halftime: 2-0
Tied at Halftime 0-0
After a Loss: 0-0
Scoring 80+ points: 6-0
Scoring 70-79 points: 1-0
Scoring 60-69 points: 0-0
Scoring 50-59 points: 0-0
Games Decided by 2 points or Less: 2-0
Games Decided by 5 points or Less: 0-0
Games Decided by 10 points or Less: 1-0
Games Decided by 11-20 Points: 2-0
Games Decided by over 20 Points: 2-0
Outrebounding Opponents: 7-0
Opponents Outrebound Bucs: 0-0
Matching Opponents in Rebounds 0-0
Committing 10 or Fewer Turnovers 1-0
Committing 11 or More Turnovers: 6-0
5 Starters Reach Double Figures: 1-0
4 Starters Reach Double Figures: 2-0
3 Starters Reach Double Figures: 6-0
2 Starters Reach Double Figures: 7-0
1 Starter Reaches Double Figures: 7-0
Shooting 50% or Better FG: 2-0
Shooting 40-49% FG: 5-0
Shooting Under 40% FG: 0-0
Opponents Shoot 50% or Better FG: 2-0
Opponents Shoot 40-49%: 3-0
Opponents Shoot Under 40%: 2-0
Shooting 80% or Better FT: 4-0
Shooting 70-79% FT: 1-0
Shooting 60-69% FT: 2-0
Shooting Under 60% FT: 0-0
Opponents Shoot 80% or Better FT: 2-0
Opponents Shoot 70-79% FT: 0-0
Opponents Shoot 60-69% FT: 3-0
Opponents Shoot Under 60% FT: 2-0