The ULM Warhawks Men’s basketball team is off to a fast start during the 2018-2018 season.
The Warhawks (2-0, 0-0 Sun Belt) opened up the campaign against Jackson State University in Jackson.
The Warhawks won that game by nine, 75-66. The Warhawks in surprising fashion were lead by senior guard and transfer from Wichita State, Daishon Smith scoring 24. Sophomore guard Michael Ertel also scored 12.
The second matchup was more of what was expected from ULM entering the season. ULM dominated Millsaps college, 94-52. The Warhawks were led by senior forward Travis Munnings who scored 23. Ertel, again, had a good game scoring 16 on 6-10 shooting.
The Warhawks, while successful thus far, are heading into arguably their toughest stretch of the season. Not only are the Warhawks on the road for the next five games, but three of their opponents are from the Power Five conferences.
Their road stint starts Monday, Nov. 12th against Michigan State in Lansing before traveling to Austin to play the University of Texas.
After a quick breather from the Power Five against Tennessee Tech and Northwestern State, ULM will end its road trip against Ole Miss.
The Warhawks will need to do a couple of key things to come out with a winning record on this trip.
The first key for the Warhawks flight will be the three-pointer. The Warhawks are not a tall team. Youry White would be the tallest Warhawk at 6’8, but after a preseason knee injury cut his season short, the title of tallest goes to 6’7 Tyree White. The Spartans of Michigan State have 11 players on the roster listed 6’5 or taller, with two 6’11 players.
Ole Miss has nine such players including a seven-footer, Texas, as well, has nine. To counteract the height disadvantage, the Warhawks will probably have to rely on the three ball which has been going in to open the season as the Warhawks are shooting 42% from deep.
The second key is getting production from Travis Munnings, Michael Ertel and someone else. Ertel and Munnings are two of the best players in program history and Munnings, in particular, has a wonderful chance of propelling himself into the draft conversation with good games against these teams. The dynamic duo, though, cannot do it by themselves as these teams will gameplan to take them out of the game.
That’s where Daishon Smith comes in. Through two games, he’s leading the team in points with 17 while playing only 17.5 minutes.
If he can keep up this production, ULM will have a shot of surprising some teams.
ULM’s next key to victory is to play with a level head. It’s cliche for sure, but ULM is playing teams of talent levels that simply weren’t on the schedule last year. The Warhawks have to go into these games acting like they’ve been there before to give themselves their best chance at victory.
The fourth key is to control the pace. The Warhawks do not have the recruits teams like Michigan State has.
The level of overall talent is just higher for powerhouse schools, but good coaching can beat talent. If ULM controls the pace and gets itself quality looks, it can play with any team in the country.
The final key is to just have fun. The Warhawks have a talented team with little expectations, as reflected in the Sun Belt Preseason rankings putting them in last in the Sun Belt.
These games give the Warhawks an opportunity to gauge itself against these great teams, and maybe to even shock some folks.