South Dakota State doesn’t offer the big-name opponent like Notre Dame or the Big 12 teams on Wichita State’s schedule, but it does offer one of the best players the Shockers will see this season.
Some fans remember Mike Daum, the 6-foot-9 mismatch who averaged 25.1 points last season, from last December’s game. For those who don’t, they will know the name after the rematch 7 p.m. Tuesday at Koch Arena between the No. 6 Shockers (6-1) and Jackrabbits (7-3).
“He’s like Larry Bird,” WSU coach Gregg Marshall said. “He’s a fantastic player who is probably going to play in the NBA. I just think he’s a tremendous talent. Very versatile. Great skill. Great touch. Good size.”
Let’s take a look at what make Daum is so good.
Threes (lots of threes)
There are other parts of Daum’s game that make him effective, but none make the 6-9 forward a tougher guard than his ability to stroke it from deep.
Last season Daum made 79 three-pointers at a nearly 42-percent clip. According to his shot chart, per Synergy Sports, Daum is great at shooting threes at the top and downright lethal on the left wing.
SDSU feeds Daum the ball in several ways, but by far it’s favorite is when Daum is trailing the play in transition and the ball handler takes a hard dribble right at Daum’s defender waiting for him and then turns and flips it back to Daum, who now has a wide open three-pointer. It’s a difficult action to prevent in transition, as evidenced by the clips below.
Misdirection is also SDSU’s friend, as it loves to run actions with Daum setting a screen in an attempt to distract his defender with helping off. In reality, SDSU is really looking for a quick-hitter with Daum coming off a screen to shoot him up toward the perimeter for an open shot as his man is now trailing the play.
Here’s three examples (watch below) from last season where Daum sets a screen, then comes off a screen and makes a three. He doesn’t need much space, so even if the defender is just a half-second late on the contest Daum can still make the defense pay.
Defending the three-point line will be a challenge for WSU when it has a player like Rauno Nurger or Darral Willis covering Daum. SDSU will surely put them in pick-and-roll situations, where Daum will set the screen and then pop out to the three-point line.
This will be a dangerous play for WSU since it loves sending its big men rocketing up to hedge and prevent the ball handler from attacking middle. It’s an effective pick-and-roll coverage, but it’s vulnerable against teams that have big men who can shoot it.
Here’s an example from last year’s game where SDSU capitalizes on WSU’s aggression to free Daum up for an open three. If it can find the quick pass back to Daum, then it’s going to force WSU’s defense to scramble on rotations and this time Conner Frankamp and Nurger are both left in no man’s land and Daum makes them pay.
Post-ups on the left block
Daum is a natural scorer and gifted. If teams put traditional big men on him, Daum can take them outside and lose them on the perimeter. If defense try to guard him with wings, then he knows how to play bully ball on the blocks and use his size to score inside.
The post-up is a large part of Daum’s game and he loves nothing more than catching the ball on the left side of the lane. He doesn’t have any tendancies (he goes left, right, and middle about equal), but for whatever reason he is really, really good on the left block.
Last season Daum took 61 percent of his post-ups on the left block and produced at a 1.12 PPP clip. This season he’s taking 68 percent of his post-ups on the left side and scoring at a higher rate than the right side, although it’s down to 0.91 PPP this season.
To be successful, WSU will try to prevent Daum from catching it where he wants. In the clip below, Rashard Kelly shows WSU’s game plan as he works relentlessly to deny the entry pass to Daum at three different spots on the court by semi-fronting him. It leaves Kelly vulnerable to the lob, but if WSU’s back-side help is aware then it will have the lob covered.
Last year Marshall had wings like Markis McDuffie and Zach Brown take turns with posts Rauno Nurger, Rashard Kelly, and Darral Willis defending Daum. The key there is that he saw five different defenders and was never allowed to establish a rhythm against any one. That will once again be the game plan on Tuesday.
“It will take a whole team to stop him,” Marshall said. “He’s very talented and can score in a multitude of ways. We’re really going to have to be locked in with great team defense.”
Not carrying the same load
Make no mistake, Daum is still the heart and soul of the Jackrabbits.
But it’s also not true to say SDSU runs exclusively through Daum like it did in last season. The Jackrabbits are spreading things around more, as Daum’s usage rate is down this season yet their team is having more success.
SDSU already owns victories over power-five opponents in Iowa and Mississippi, even with Daum’s scoring and shooting numbers down. The Jackrabbits have found success with a rare combination of taking a ton of threes (48 percent of their shots are three-pointers) and drawing a ton of fouls.
Coach TJ Otzelberger has also switched his team’s defense, which was mostly zone last season, and now SDSU plays exclusively man defense.
“They’ve changed,” Marshall said. “They’ve got more bodies, they’ve got more weapons, they’re more athletic.”
Otzelberger could catch WSU off-guard by throwing zone at the Shockers early, although WSU showed in its 69-62 victory over Baylor an improved offense that consistently punctured the weak spots of Baylor’s zone.
But if SDSU sticks to man, it could be in trouble. WSU has the third-most efficient offense against man-to-man defenses in Division I, as it is scoring on nearly 49 percent of possessions.
“Hopefully it’s because we run good stuff,” Marshall said. “But more importantly, it’s because we’ve got good players and we’ve got a lot of them. It’s hard to take away one or two guys because we’ve got a lot of different guys who can hurt you at any given moment. That’s just talent and depth.”
South Dakota St. at No. 6 Wichita St.
- When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
- Where: Koch Arena
- Records: SDSU 7-3, WSU 6-1
- Radio: 103.7-FM
- TV: Cox 22