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NU stuck in middle after being tagged as favorite

By Donjie Carreon Posted Aug 11th 2013

National University should have expected a very difficult season when other coaches said the Bulldogs were the favorites. It turned out that it meant the others were saving their best punches for NU. And in a league where parity has grown, getting hit with the other’s haymakers hurt a lot.

With that NU failed to get a rhythm going as it alternated between wins and losses none more painful than the one engineered by University of the East, which relied on the heroics of Roi Sumang to pull out a close one.

After the dust settled, the team expected to be the future king of UAAP men’s hoops finished with a less than impressive 4-3 record. It was good enough to land them in the top four, but it’s nothing special considering that two others have the same record and three more have 3-4 cards.

NU has failed to break away from the pack due to its ordinary offense.

It is getting the same all-around brilliance from Parks, is third in scoring with 18.9 points per games aside from being in the top 10 of rebounds, assists and steals.

Parks is also getting more help on offense as Emmanuel Jean Mbe has become a consistent option inside and has averaged 17.1 points and 11.9 rebounds per game, which are fourth and second best in the UAAP.

But outside Parks and Mbe, who account for half of the team’s output, NU remains average on offense. The team committed to play faster to generate fast break points but only gets 8.6 points per game, which is third worst. The bench does not offer much relief as its 16.6 points per game is the worst in the league. The Bulldogs have also failed to find a cure for its ball coughing ailment, which has led to their 16.7 turnovers average, the third worst in the league.

However, the Bulldogs continue to be a threat due to their stout defense. NU does not force many turnovers, block much shots or get a lot of steals but its disciplined approach to defense have limited opponents to just 66.1 points per game on 35.6% shooting.

The Bulldogs’ philosophy has been to let opponents fire away from the perimeter but ensure that the interior is always locked up by limiting second chance points and transition baskets.

The first round may have taken away some of the shine off the Bulldogs, but with teams bunched up in the middle the intensity of competition should remain. The good news is they’ve taken some of the best shots their opponents have to give and continue to stand. Now is the time to return the favor.