The UTSA Roadrunners’ offense hasn’t created as many problems for opponents this year as it did last year.
Last year, with Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace on the floor, UTSA’s foes couldn’t slack off without one or the other pulling up and burying a 28 footer. The Roadrunners averaged 78.8 points per game on 44.7 percent shooting.
This year, with Jackson and Wallace having moved on to seek their fortunes in pro ball, the Roadrunners have forged through some uncertain times, hitting on a 39.1 percent clip and averaging 70.2 points.
After a shaky start, some soul searching and extensive work on the practice floor, UTSA nevertheless has started to become more efficient recently. In their last four games, the Roadrunners are averaging 74 points and knocking down 42.4 percent from the field.
Perhaps not coincidentally, they’re 3-1 in that stretch.
“We’re just getting better shots and moving it better,” Roadrunners coach Steve Henson said after Tuesday afternoon’s workout at the Convocation Center. “We’ve had good starts the last two games. We’re making progress.”
Here’s a glance at UTSA’s shooting, game by game, in its last four outings, including final score and field goal makes-attempts:
Nov. 24 — UTSA beats Lamar, 79-73. FG: 25-53
Nov. 29 — UTSA beats St. Mary’s, 75-65. FG: 24-59
Dec. 2 — Grand Canyon beats UTSA, 74-71. FG: 25-69
Dec. 11 — UTSA beats Sam Houston State, 78-73. FG 27-57
(UTSA four-game total, field goal makes-attempts, 101-238, for 42.4 percent)
Friday, 7 p.m. — UT Rio Grande Valley (4-7) at UTSA (6-4).
UTRGV played at home in Edinburg on Tuesday night and lost 70-60 to the Texas Southern Tigers. The Vaqueros have lost five in a row.
After the Roadrunners downed the Bearkats in Houston on Saturday, they traveled back to San Antonio that night, took Sunday as a day off and returned to work Monday with a weight training session, film study and a practice.
On Tuesday morning, they did a community service project, traveling to help the San Antonio Food Bank with a distribution at South San High School.
In an extremely positive sign for the team, senior guard Darius McNeill has returned to practice this week. McNeill had sat out since tweaking his right foot against Lamar on Nov. 24.
Upon his return Monday, he did more than expected and then seemed to be back to his usual speedy self in a two-hour drill Tuesday afternoon. Henson said he’s uncertain whether McNeill will play on Friday.
“He looked pretty good,” the coach said, “better than I anticipated.”
A concern was power forward Cedrick Alley Jr., who has been ill the past few days. Alley did not attend Tuesday’s workout. “He wasn’t feeling well yesterday and was feeling worse today,” the coach said. “Got to get him tested, get him checked out.”
Junior transfer Aleu Aleu, who missed all of the October practices with a quad injury and sat out the first six games of the season, closed the workout with a flourish.
Unofficially, he knocked down at least five in a row from behind the 3-point line to complete his workout.
“He’s getting so much more comfortable,” Henson said.
Aleu, a newcomer, is a 6-foot-8 forward, a finesse-type player who weighs only 180 pounds. He grew up in Africa but later moved into the Austin area and attended junior college in Temple.
He played 22 minutes against Sam Houston State and impressed coaches with a few heady plays. He finished with three points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals.