It took less than four minutes for the Idaho State men’s basketball team to show the fans in Reed Gym their new look offense and defense.
No, coach Bill Evans' patented 2-3 zone is not gone; it has just been improved thanks in part to an influx of new talent and a pressure trapping perimeter defense.
In those opening minutes the Bengals forced a handful of turnovers and got five quick points from Andre Hatchett as ISU ran away with a 97-54 win over Dickinson State in the exhibition opener at Reed Gym Monday night.
Less than 10 minutes for ISU to build a 20-2 lead with all but a 3-pointer by senior guard Tomas Sanchez being a transition basket.
“When you run with a guy like Tomas, it makes things so easy,” Hatchett said. “Coach told us he wanted us to get up and move and when we do that Tomas can get us the ball.”
Sanchez had the chance to get the rest of teammates the ball because of the trapping pressure Evans has installed for this season.
ISU forced 16 first half turnovers that led to a lot of layups. ISU shot 69 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes.
“I think Jeffrey Solarin and Justin Smith were pretty good,” Evans said. “I mentioned before that Andre Hatchett is going to score some points, Tomas Sanchez is going to score some baskets, but we have to have some other guys step up and tonight I think we did.”
Solarin, the junior transfer from Northwest College, and Smith, a freshman from Colorado, combined for 23 points and 10 rebounds.
“It felt good; it was a whole new ballgame and will take some getting used to, but I felt it was a good start,” Solarin said. “I felt like I slacked a little and let my team down a little in the rebounding, I felt like I could have done a little bit more, but there is always room for improvement.”
The Bengals did not do a whole lot wrong against an outmanned and outmatched Dickinson State squad, but, if there was one thing Evans was not pleased with, it was his team's free throw shooting.
The Bengals went 20-for-33 from the foul line in the game.
“You have no idea how hard I have been working on my free throw shooting,” Hatchett said. “I have definitely had my free throw issues and this year with the rule changes we need to capitalize on those free points.”
“Yeah, that was definitely one of the low points of today’s game,” Evans said. “We need to make those. Tomas did not miss until the end of December last season and tonight he went 4-for-8.”
Hatchett scored a game-high 20 points. Chris Hansen added 17, all in the second half.
ISU opens the regular season on Saturday against Evergreen State at 8 p.m. in Reed Gym.