Mid-Major Monday: Abilene Christian

Team: Abilene Christian Wildcats

Conference: Southland

Current Record: 9-2

Coach: Joe Golding

Coach Profile: Joe Golding took over his alma mater in 2011 and helped transition them to division 1 (now in their 8th D1 season). Golding has won 47 over the past two seasons and took them to their first NCAA Tournament in 2019 (15 seed- lost to 2 seeded Kentucky). Golding’s team identity is intense up-the-line man-to-man pressure defense takes away passing lanes and forcing teams to put the ball on the floor. The Wildcats ranked 2nd in the nation in forced turnover rate last season and they are currently first in the nation this year.

What Makes Them Special?

Pressure defense is what sets this team apart. The Wildcats defense is led by harassing defenders Damien Daniels, Coryon Mason, Immanuel Allen, and Reggie Miller. Those guards get out and push out opponent’s offenses and deny passing lanes. They force teams out of what they want to do offensively.

The Wildcats are 2nd in the country (teams that played at least 5 games) in defensive points per possession. The main reason for that is the very high turnover numbers they force. They lead the country in forced turnover percentage at 27.5%! Over a quarter of their opponent’s possessions end in a turnover!

On offense, ACU is led by Coryon Mason, 7-footer Kolten Kohl and the frontcourt pair of Joe Pleasant and Clay Gayman. Abilene Christian is middle of the pack in transition offense and below average in half court offense, so their success relies on their defense. The tend to succeed against teams of similar or worse talent, but can run into problems against top level teams with more size then them. We saw this in their NCAA Tournament appearance two years ago when Kentucky beat them 79-44 in the opening round. They’re trying to follow the same blueprint that Stephen F. Austin has proved successful in the Southland.

They don’t have any bad losses yet, both of their losses this season have come against big-time programs in Texas Tech and Arkansas. They’ve had a couple impressive wins against ETSU and Austin Peay, but it remains to be seen if they can really compete with bigger and longer teams they’d see in the NCAA Tournament. The Southland will probably be won by Abilene Christian or Stephen F. Austin; anything else would be a huge upset.

Abilene Christian Wildcats 2020-21 Player Stats

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