It’s just late November, but Shepherd has already claimed a pair of road wins against teams that are used to winning when at home.
Standing at 3-1 overall, the Rams have beaten Elizabeth City State on the road in North Carolina and later defeated Fairmont by three points at the Joe Retton Arena in Marion County.
On Saturday afternoon, one of the more noted WVIAC teams will be at the Butcher Center to see if the Rams can keep moving their season in the right direction.
Charleston, unbeaten in two games and featuring a cast of transfer players, will bring its up-tempo style to bear against the similar style of the Rams. Charleston is not West Liberty, but it might be the next best thing the WVIAC has to offer this season.
The Golden Bears have wins over Puerto Rico-Mayaguez in their opener and then stopped Nova Southeastern in season’s second game.
Shepherd wins against Bowie State, Elizabeth City, and Fairmont have outweighed the one loss to East Stroudsburg, the defending Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference champion.
With consistent scoring, rebounding, and leadership contributions from Chad Moore, Coach Justin Namolik has been able to find nightly help from either Brantley Osborne or Morgan McDonald or Sidney McCray — three more of his starters.
Though a reserve so far in Shepherd’s four games, Marcus Pilgrim has been a consistent help with his scoring and verve. Kevin Jones, a first-year player, has been able to score well at times.
The other starter has been point guard Austin Cunningham, a transfer from Ohio Valley. Cunningham has yet to shoot well, but he doesn’t often have turnovers or defensive lapses.
Another reliable source has been Aeron Spencer, a guard with starting experience in the past.
The Shepherd vs. Charleston game will start at about 4:10 p.m.
Shepherd’s women open the afternoon’s doubleheader at 2 p.m. against Charleston.
So far, the Lady Rams have been unable to find more than a few players at a time that are playing well. And the result has been a 1-2 record that includes a conference loss at Fairmont.
If Emily Daniel doesn’t score, rebound, and exert her will on any game, Shepherd has problems. Daniel and 6-foot-3 center Gabby Flinchum are the only two starters around from last year’s 20-win team.
Several players have done well at times, but Alex Wheatland, Rachel Johnson, Jimyse Brown, Jazmin Tolson and Priscilla Moseh have been anything but consistent. Wheatland has the inside potential to be a 10-points-a-game scorer.
Shepherd’s usual stream of turnovers have cost it leads . . . and then games. Senior point guard Alex Tamez had six turnovers in one game and five in another. The Lady Rams committed 29 turnovers in a loss to Cal State University at Monterey Bay.
And the individual and team defense are not going to win conference games against a reasonable opponent.
Charleston has a 2-1 overall record with wins over Slippery Rock and Missouri S&T and the one loss to Tusculum in an 85-61 rout.
The Lady Rams have to find more than a few contributing players in any given game. But the team is full of youth and first-year players and could mature into a conference force by mid-season.