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Shooter: Is Snider very good or very average? We will soon find out

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press

Friday, January 06, 2017 11:52 PM
Malik Williams is tall...very tall.

Malik Williams is good...very good.

But for the Snider Panthers to succeed this season, it will need more than just its 7-foot center throwing down thunderous dunks and drawing gasps from the crowd.

That is just what Coach Jeremy Rauch is working towards, with another step forward coming in Friday's 58-45 victory over Northrop.

While Snider (5-4) has been imperfect overall this year (just look at Tuesday's loss to New Haven for an example), it is thus far perfect in the SAC at 3-0.

"This was a really good win," said Williams, who finished with 26 points and 15 rebounds in the victory. "We had lost our last two so to come out and by 13 here (was big)."

In many ways, the Panthers fooled us with their 76-73 overtime win over North Side on Dec. 16. Snider played its best basketball of the season in that game, hitting 15 threes and forcing 25 turnovers in the victory.

But the Panthers are just 3-3 since then. Inconsistency has been the only consistency over the past three weeks. Shots have not fallen as they did against North, with Williams' four on-the-floor teammates sometimes simply watching and waiting for the Louisville commit to do what he does.

We saw Snider at its best against North Side, but it is not yet at the point to play that well game after game.

Rauch knows that his team's success hinges on more than just its 7-foot monster and has stressed as much in the locker room.

"We definitely do a lot of ball watching, but it's one thing we've been working on and getting better," Rauch said. "We are better at it today than we were yesterday. It is one of those things where we have to continue to know where guys are and where they should be and once we get an advantage to attack."

Williams is always going to be the focal point. His commanding presence is effective on both ends, with his shooting touch from the outside (he hit 3-of-6 from three on Friday) making him even more dangerous.

But while Williams can handle the ball, it is far from his strength.

That is where Jordan Gorman comes in.

The senior guard has been handed the keys to the offense by Rauch and it is his job to drive. His comfort level has continued to grow through the first month-plus of the season for the Panthers, an aspect of the game that will in turn make him, Williams and the rest of the team better.

Defense and transition basketball are big keys as well.

"It starts on defense," Rauch said. "The better we play on defense, the more we get in transition and that's when we are at our best."

Keondre Brown had 15 points in Friday's win and could be another big piece of the puzzle for Snider, particularly as the schedule heats up for a team that plays 14 games in January and February.

Was the Snider team we saw against North Side the team we see in March?

Or has this squad already peaked?

The work of Williams and Co. over the next two months will tell the story.

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