Raiders off to a great start

Raiders off to a great start

NICEVILLE — Steve DeMeo knows this pace isn't sustainable.

Come Panhandle Conference time, the NWF State men's basketball team (4-0) won't average a 61-percent shooting percentage. The Raiders won't put up 100 points per game, nor will they drain 10 3-pointers a night on a 43-percent clip from beyond the arc.

The 35-point scoring cushion, meanwhile, won't hold up. The same can be said about the 24 assists per contest.

Through four games, the numbers for the Raiders are more video game-esque than real life.

The unsustainable pace, though, has revealed a few constants for NWF State: The Raiders are deep, unselfish and jelling.

The fact that four different Raiders have been the game's top scorer reflects that. The fact that the share-the-wealth system will continue to lead to fresh legs and fresh rotations reflects that.

The fact that the team has this type of chemistry not even one-seventh into the season reflects that.

And, as DeMeo will tell you, the team hasn't even hit its stride yet.

"The teams we've played against, on paper they were supposed to be better," DeMeo said. "But we also played well. Our depth is as good as any team in the country. We have 11 guys on scholarship and we trust every one of them."

This past weekend, the nation's top-ranked Raiders defeated Snead State 85-70 and Wallace State 85-56. That followed a 52-point win over Coahoma and a 42-point win over Lincoln Trail.

"We have guys in our second rotation that'd start for high major programs," DeMeo said.

Hence the fairly equal distribution of stats four games into the season. Every night, someone different leads the team in scoring.

Daryl Edwards had a team-high 21 against Snead State and Ron Freeman's 18 led the Raiders against Wallace State. Before that, Andres Feliz had 17 against Lincoln Trail and Jared Wilson-Frame produced 21 against Coahoma.

"No one cares who scores," DeMeo said. "I credit my staff for making the players understand the value of sharing the ball, playing together.

"They don't care about the stats. They just care about winning."

The extra pass has led to the crazy-inflated shooting percentages, and it's helped fuel an offense that features nearly eight guys averaging double-figure points. Further illustrating the unselfishness is that no one's averaging double-digit shots per game and Jeromy Rodriguez's modest 14.3 points (67 percent shooting) lead the team.

For perspective on the quality of shots the Raiders are getting, they've shot 65, 65, 63 and 59 percent from the floor in their four games. Two of those totals even topped their opponent's overall point total.

"We have a lot of shooters," DeMeo said. "Again, we don't have one or two or three players you can just key in on."

The Raiders will host Enterprise State at 7:30 tonight at The Arena.