Grady did a great job breaking down just how it is that this team is playing so well defensively. It's pretty much the sole reason that this team, after dipping to No. 2 yesterday, is back up to No. 1 in the Ken Pomeroy ratings today.
(Yes, I know ... small sample size, computer rankings are dumb this early in the year, blah, blah, blah ... just let me have my fun, OK?)
It's tempting to say that the defense has just been a simple reflection of the competition, but that would be far too simplistic. Mississippi Valley State has played four games this year. Check out their offensive efficiency in each (what's efficiency?):
|Fri Nov 14||Arizona St. (s) (sr)||L, 80-64||65||97.7|
|Sat Nov 15||Washington St. (s) (sr)||L, 76-25||64||39.2|
|Mon Nov 17||Oklahoma (s) (sr)||L, 94-53||77||68.5|
|Tue Nov 18||James Madison (s) (sr)||L, 62-54||66||81.4|
See those numbers? MVSU has played at a pace around 65 three times this year, and only once has it been so thoroughly dominated -- and that includes a game against a supposedly top 25 team.
Now, check out Fairleigh Dickinson:
|Fri Nov 14||Pittsburgh (s) (sr)||L, 86-63||68||92.4|
|Tue Nov 18||Washington St. (s) (sr)||L, 55-33||63||52.1|
In case you didn't know, Pittsburgh -- who we may yet get to see up close and personal -- is the No. 6 team in the country. The game was played at a higher pace, but not so much so as to assume that it caused the significantly higher efficiency.
Simply put, the Cougs have dominated their opponents on the defensive end in a way two Top 25 teams could not. That is nothing short of amazing in my book; I really thought it was the defense that would take a while to come around with all the new guys. But that clearly has not been the case.
The offense is a bit of a different story. Yes, we put up some huge numbers against MVSU, but so did everyone else. And we didn't even approach Pitt's offensive efficiency numbers against FDU. So that will bear some watching as we move toward that Mississippi State game. But Tony Bennett has to be pretty happy right now that he can wait a little bit for the offense to come around because the defense is playing so well.