By Daniel Herrick
The men’s basketball team will host Alma College Wednesday night, Jan. 29, with an opportunity to improve to .500 in the MIAA on the line. Both Kalamazoo and Alma are currently 2-3 in the league.
While the Hornets boast the MIAA’s two highest scorers—senior Mark Ghafari (25.0 PPG) and junior Adam Peters (16.9 PPG)—the Scots have four of the league’s top 16. They are led by senior forward Isiah Law who scores on average 14.4 points per game on 50.4 percent shooting. Efficiency appears to be a value for the Scots as all four of their top scorers shoot better than 47 percent from the field. Sophomore DJ Beckman, the team’s second-leading scorer at 12.4 PPG, is making a case for the 50-40-90 club. The forward is currently shooting 52.1 percent from the field, 46.6 percent from three-point land and 94.7 percent at the free throw line.
As a team, Alma shoots 47.1 percent from the field, good for second in the MIAA. The Hornets check in just behind Alma in this category, as they shoot 46 percent overall.
Fans may be in for an offensive display on Wednesday night. Alma is the league’s second highest-scoring offense and Kalamazoo is third. Both teams can score at efficient rates from all over the floor. Alma takes and makes the second most three-pointers in the MIAA. The Scots have knocked in 123 from three on 338 attempts. The Hornets are third in this category making 110 threes on 303 attempts.
While fans can expect to see some scoring, the game may be won by whichever team is stronger on the defensive end and taking care of the ball. When both teams can score at such efficient rates, total possessions can go a long way toward determining the game’s eventual winner. Both the Hornets and the Scots struggle at times handling the ball. In fact, they are the MIAA’s two-worst teams in terms of ball security. While the Scots are slightly better at forcing turnovers, neither team is elite in this category.
The Hornets do, however, hold a significant advantage on the glass. Kalamazoo is currently the third-best rebounding team in the MIAA. They secure 37.1 boards per game. The Scots, on the other hand, are just .1 rebounds better than league-worst Adrian. Alma pulls in 30.9 rebounds per game. Limiting Alma’s second-chance opportunities can go a long way for a Hornets team that has struggled to defend at times this season.
Three other MIAA games will occur Wednesday night as well, including Trine hosting Olivet. Trine currently sits alone in fourth-place in the conference at 3-3. A Trine loss to Olivet would allow the winner of the K-Alma game to move percentage points ahead into sole ownership of fourth place. While the Hornets may have dropped some winnable games early in the MIAA slate, a win over Alma would keep them right in the thick of the battle to be among the conference’s top-four teams in order to qualify for the MIAA tournament.
Kalamazoo will tip-off against Alma at the Anderson Athletic Center at 7:30 PM on Wednesday evening.