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Friday, January 08, 2010Point guard Johnny Lee is coming off a career-high 22-point performance, but like the rest of his Lipscomb Bisons teammates he is still a work in progress.
Lee, a senior, has spent the season making the transition from a three-year career at George Washington University to the Bisons. The transition has been a challenge.
“It has been a process,” Lee said. “I really had to get things and get them early. I don’t have the luxury of taking my time.
“It has been pretty difficult because there aren’t many similarities between we did at George Washington and what we do here. It is a conscious effort to stay on top of it every day.”
Lee is quick to give credit to his teammates for his strong performance in the 89-79 win over Florida Gulf Coast Tuesday night.
“It was great to have a career high, but it is great just to be around my teammates who helped facilitate that,” Lee said. “Down low we have an All-Conference player in Adnan Hodzic. He is a magnet for defenders. It makes my job a lot easier when I look to score. He takes the pressure off of us so we can shoot those open shots.”
While Lee’s numbers were impressive against Florida Gulf Coast he still has a lot of work to do, especially on the defensive part of his game.
“He is playing with more confidence,” Sanderson said. “He is playing better in practice. There are still certain things we want him to do. He has the God-given ability to do them.”
Sanderson wants Lee to use his quickness to harass opponents, force turnovers and to be in the right spot off of the ball.
“He can score 50 points a game, but I want him to zone in on what we want him to do on the defensive end of the floor,” Sanderson said. “I’m excited that he made some shots, but I will be even more excited when he shows me by his play that he understands what I want him to do defensively.
“Everybody on our team has to be in certain spots depending on where the ball is. He hasn’t heard that as much as the other guys. A lot of the time he is out of position away from the ball. I want him to be a better team defender and at the same time be a better on-ball defender.”
Lee knows that defense is the issue when it comes to increasing his playing time.
“Consistency is a big thing,” Lee said. “Coach Sanderson is always talking about me taking it to another level with my defense and I am really trying to concentrate on that.
“When you have a player that can do both defense and offense that helps take your team to another level. Being a defensive person that picks up the ball for 94 feet is real important for me.”
Saturday afternoon at 6:15 the Bisons, 6-7, 3-1 in the Atlantic Sun, will face USC Upstate, 1-13, 1-4, at Allen Arena. The Bisons are 4-2 on their home court this season. Upstate has lost all eight of its road games. The Bisons are 3-1 overall against USC Upstate.
Sanderson is concerned with three players from Upstate: senior 7-foot-3 center Nick Schneiders, 6-5 junior forward Mezie Uzochukwu and 5-9 junior guard Josh Chavez.
Hodzic, a junior center, leads the Bisons and the Atlantic Sun in scoring with 22.1 points per game. He also leads the Bisons in rebounding with 7.8. Schneiders leads Upstate in both scoring (11.3 points per game) and rebounding (6.9 per game).
“Schneiders can slow down Adnan with his size and length,” Sanderson said. “Mezie scored a double-double against Belmont. He is a big, strong and athletic No. 4 man. Chavez is shooting 47 percent from 3-point range.”
Upstate’s record is deceiving, especially based on their last few games. They lost 68-58 at Belmont Thursday night.
“They lost to ETSU by one,” Sanderson said. “They have lost six or seven games by single digits. A single-digit game can go in any direction.
“They are playing better. It is going to be a very scary game if we don’t do what we are supposed to do.”
Sanderson’s Bisons have won their last two games and four of their last six, but he wants them to continue to elevate their level of play. In addition to Hodzic, the Bisons have three other players averaging in double figures _ junior guard Josh Slater (14.5), junior forward Brandon Brown (12.5) and sophomore guard Jordan Burgason (11.7).
“Not only do I want us to win, but I want us to play well and get better at the things we are emphasizing,” Sanderson said. “The beauty of this team is that we have played pretty well here lately, but we still have some room for improvement on both ends of the floor.
“I want us to get out of our comfort zones. I don’t want them to think they can’t get better. It is my job as a coach to keep pushing them. It is not anything personal, but as a coaching staff we have high expectations for this team.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations