There hasn't been much to criticize about the performance of the Cal State Bakersfield men's basketball team to start to the 2019-20 season.
In a Saturday exhibition and Tuesday's regular season opener, the Roadrunners have overwhelmed a pair of non-Division I opponents, winning by a combined 93 points while dominating most every statistical category.
In the matchups, CSUB held a 97-48 rebounding edge and scored 56 points off of 41 turnovers. And after their opponents shot 269 more free throws than them a season ago, the Roadrunners easily won the free throw battle, shooting 63 while allowing just 32.
There is, however, one area where CSUB has yet to hit its stride.
While the 'Runners have made a killing inside, scoring 102 points in the paint while converting nearly 74 percent of 2-point shots, success has been hard to come by from the 3-point arc.
After hitting only 1-of-13 attempts in a 90-49 exhibition win over Westcliff, the Roadrunners made just 4-of-24 3-point tries in Tuesday's 103-51 takedown of Notre Dame de Namur. They appeared to find a rhythm in the second half Tuesday, hitting three straight triples, only to close the night with nine consecutive misses.
"We'll live with it as long as we get the win," coach Rod Barnes said of the 3-point output. "But just from my standpoint, it's a concern. When (you) look at the stat sheet and something doesn't look the way you think it needs to look to have a great team (you're concerned)."
The level of worry seems lower among Roadrunner players, who feel they're better equipped to attack teams inside.
Transfer guard De'Monte Buckingham had a game-high eight assists in his first official game at CSUB Tuesday, routinely hitting teammates around the basket. Slashing guard Taze Moore and bruising junior college transfer forward Shawn Stith were the biggest beneficiaries, as they tied for the team lead with 18 points, doing so while taking a combined one 3-pointer.
“We’ve got guys that we didn’t have last year, size-wise," Moore said. "So there’s really no point to just jump up and take too many shots. We can punish them inside and then when stuff gets too cracking or they double team we can look for an outside shot. But then again, we don’t have to take it.”
A quality-over-quantity approach has worked for Barnes' teams in the past. The 2016-17 'Runners, who won the WAC regular season title and reached the Final Four of the NIT, were last in the conference in 3-point makes per game (6.5), but second in percentage (35).
But even if they continue to thrive around the rim, the importance of offensive balance isn't lost on CSUB players, who feel it's only a matter of time before the outside game starts to click.
"We have no concern," said Buckingham, who was 1-of-4 from 3-point range Tuesday. "Just get back in the gym, keep shooting. That's all we need to do."