We knew coming into this fresh season that Snider’s speed, tempo and highlight worthy offense was going to be something that could give teams fits.
What we learned on Tuesday in the Panthers’ season opening 85-62 win against East Noble is that we were exactly right. Snider got out on the break, converted, moved the ball, hit big shots and yes, finished above the rim. But I think Bounce also learned something important to keep an on as the season goes forward: that the danger of the Snider offense is that it could be a warning to the rest of the SAC and the area, but it may also be a warning to the Panthers themselves.
Talk about a double edged sword.
And no, not everybody in Panther land will appreciate me saying so. But there are some, and I think coach Jeremy Rauch is included, that always likes to take positive and negative from any win or loss. It will just help Snider grow and get better if they can praise their strengths and admit their weaknesses.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t a whole lot of good. I may be off, but my dunk counter had Aidan Lambert at 12 to go along with his game high 40 points, which equals the highest point total of the season in Northeast Indiana for a single game so far. Lambert was this week’s early revelation. No, not because he could shoot the ball or that he is athletic and can throw down fantastic dunks (including a first quarter windmill). We knew that he could do all of that. We’ve seen most of it in high school games and if you saw the kid at all this summer, you know he was one of the best dunkers on the summer scene anywhere this side of the Mississippi.
Lambert‘s talent is going to transcend those things though because of how it brings up his teammates. Lambert had the energy permeating through the gym at Snider from the other guys in the court, his sideline and the fans, including a Snider student section that always has had the potential to make the gym raucous. Imagine what that student section is gonna look like on Friday night in the SAC if Snider goes like they did against East Noble.
The Panthers controlled the pace from very early on against East Noble and have the ability to come up with big steals because of intense on ball defense that Rauch was clamoring for from the sideline. They routinely picked the Knights’ guards apart, got out on that break and finished, whether it was Lambert or any of the other talented group that can beat you off the dribble or pull up and knock down a big shot.
But here’s a double edged sword part.
Snider cheats. And no not like that isolators of comments. They cheat some on defense when they know they are able to pick pockets routinely and get out on the break for the big finish. That’s something they need to be wary of. There were times, starting as early as the second quarter, when the expectation was that the Panthers were going to get a steal. So maybe somebody took took a step or three towards their offensive end too quick or somebody overplayed the passing lane to try to get that steal to get something going.
Against more high caliber ball handlers, that situation could haunt them in ways that it really didn’t on Tuesday night.
So to Snider’s credit, since this was just game one, maybe they knew that they could get away with things that they won’t get away with as easy against other teams in the SAC and bigger schools from elsewhere.
The Panthers are powerful. That is dangerous for them and for their opponents every night this season. With great power comes great responsibility, so Spider-Man once told me.
Tuesday though, oh Tuesday was glorious. As Bounce told coach Rauch after the game, that was aggressive. One of those games where you feel bad for whoever is keeping stats because everything was so furiously paced at the get go. And clearly, like I wrote in my column last Sunday about other teams, the Panthers missed scoring and they missed doing it in bunches.
About 12 minutes into the game, they already had 44 points. And while the scoring pace slowed considerably from there to allow Snider to finish with 85, Bounce did some simple math for you. 44 points midway through the second quarter had the Panthers then on pace to score about 117. So yeah, you could say that pace was aggressive.
We also got to see Snider’s depth tested some. There wasn’t heavy foul trouble but there were a lot of fouls. Snider ended up committing 21 to East Noble’s 20. No Panther was ever seriously in trouble, yet everybody for Snider with significant minutes had at least two fouls in the game. It forced some less tested guys to step in and step up a little bit. That is something that we probably question a bit about Snider. And there will still be questions in bigger games, but court time is valuable to grow, even if it is not always affordable for the Panthers.
The end result though showed so much positive. Lambert finished with those 40 points on 81 percent shooting. His field goal percentage actually went down with his 3-of-4 shooting from deep. Which is fair; I guess, when you can’t miss two pointers since you are slamming most of them directly through the cylinder. Karson Jenkins, not lost in the shuffle at all, had a really underrated 26 point night while shooting 59 percent from the field and was a consistent fire starter for the Panthers offense and transition. Jenkins ended with just five assists but the quality of those passes was on par with any point guard in the area so far this season; made me feel like he had way more assists in total. He has a game high seven steals.
Ke’drell Billingsley and Elijah Davis were also critical in the danger game, combining for eight of the Panthers 23 steals including five from Billingsley.
There is a lot of talent, a lot of speed and a lot of fun. Tuesday was fun. The only question now is how well Snider continues to harness it as the days go on.
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