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McNeese fiddles with rotation prior to trip to UTEP

Published: Dec. 13, 2021 at 11:34 PM CST
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - After a little more than a week off, the Cowboys return to action as they travel to face UTEP on Thursday. The break has come with the realization of the need to cut down the rotation and correct parts of the defensive scheme.

“I’m playing too many guys for one and potentially playing some of the wrong guys in terms of schematically where they are. We’ve made the adjustment, I am probably going to go to an eight-man rotation maybe nine depending on the flow of the game,” said head coach John Aiken. “Guys when they are playing well, I am taking them out when I shouldn’t and we have adapted a little bit and I’ve challenged our guys to figure out how to get in that eight-man rotation.”

Another point of emphasis for the Cowboys over the break has been correcting the defensive mindset. While the points per game allowed have improved, the Pokes have slacked off in their ability to force turnovers. One key fix will be to move away from having their center be the primary help on defense, which is something they installed specifically for TCU and SMU at the beginning of the season.

“Our gameplan there was to really use Brendan as a funnel and to not worry so much about their fives and just funnel everything to Brendan [Medley-Bacon] and what that has made us do is, it’s just made Brendan always be the funnel and so he’s always got guards driving at him and that’s not how our defense is supposed to be built,” said Aiken. “Our opposite guard is supposed to be the help more often than not and we are just relying on Brendan to do too much and that’s putting him in bad situations and now he’s got little guards getting downhill on him.

While it may seem like McNeese is experimenting a lot, Aiken says this is the time of the year to do it before the games start to carry a little more weight.

“Early season is for figuring our rotations, figuring out playstyle whatever and the difference for us is JFM— January, February, March,” said Aiken. “Getting to be a really good team come January 15 here at the Legacy Center, we’ve got four more non-conference, we’ve got three in that tournament, we are going to continue to tinker, adjust, we are going to shorten the rotation a bit and see how that goes and I think that will allow guys to get more confidence on both sides of the ball. They’ll get more of a rhythm.”

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