The offense for the Saint Francis men's basketball team last year was simple, particularly late in the season:
Get the ball to Scott Kohne.
Sure, that strategy led to 18 wins for the Cougars, but the team finished midpack in the Crossroads League without a berth in the NAIA National Tournament.
Kohne also had gaudy stats a year ago while being the lone double-digit scorer for Saint Francis. He averaged 18.2 points a game while taking nearly double the number of field-goal attempts (384) as the second-highest shooter (211).
Something had to change.
So far this season, it has. The No. 16-ranked Cougars sport four players in double figures entering this weekend's trip to Florida for the two-game Florida Classic.
Kohne is among them, but with the weight of the offensive attack far lighter upon his shoulders.
“I feel like last year it was so much on Scott to score every time he touched (the ball),” Saint Francis coach Chad LaCross said. “He would shoot instead of finding teammates.
“This year is completely the opposite. He has had games with five or six assists.”
One of the players stepping up to take the spotlight off Kohne has been Austin Fox. The 6-foot-3 junior from Muncie has notched five double doubles this season, including a team-high 20 points and 10 rebounds in the Cougars' upset of then-No. 2 Indiana Wesleyan on Saturday.
Junior Josh Hogan leads Saint Francis (10-3) in scoring with an 18.6 average. Kohne is averaging 17.9 a game with Fox at 14.0 and freshman Kegan Comer at 12.4
“The way Scott has played, he has been really unselfish,” LaCross said.
The scoring balance isn't the only reason for the five-game surge. After switching defensive philosophies in the offseason to one that is supposed to tighten things up in the paint and force teams to beat the Cougars from the outside, Saint Francis has needed several games to work out the kinks in the scheme and get the players feeling confident with its execution.
Saint Francis allowed an average of 70.8 points per game through its first seven games, but just 60 points per contest over the winning streak.
“Our intensity is better,” LaCross said. “It is always an adjustment when you make a change. I feel like the guys are solid on it. Defensively we are playing well with it now.”
The Cougars take their hot play to a warmer climate for a weeklong visit to Florida before getting back into Crossroads League play Jan. 4 at home against Goshen.
“We are really focused on these two games … then a little time to spend as a team,” LaCross said. “It will be beneficial for us as a team to have that kind of time away from campus.”