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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Men’s basketball team focuses on development

The Grinnell College Men’s Basketball team lost to William Penn University, 133-101 Wednesday in Oskaloosa, but the team still gained valuable experience from the game. The Pioneers were coming off a tough, come-from-behind win at home on Sunday against Waldorf and were playing an athletic William Penn team that proved too much. Although Grinnell was only down four points at halftime, 62-58, they were unable to keep up with the Statesmen.

“It seemed like, even in that first half, we were making a lot of mistakes, just with the execution of our offense,” Team Captain and point guard Ross Preston ’10 said. “So I think in the second half when those mistakes continued to occur and they went on a few of those runs and our shots weren’t going in—then it just got to be this thing where this had been building all game and [the team was] just really frustrated.”

In their game against Waldorf, the halves were flip-flopped.  The Pioneers were down 24 points in the first half, but won the game by seven in the end. The problem apparent in both games for the Pioneers is that their offense is just too streaky.

“Well, the first half against Waldorf we didn’t shoot well, it was the first half of the season, and it was a lot of the freshmens’ first half playing ‘The System’ so it was a little rough,” guard Augustus Karisch ’10, said.

But that doesn’t mean that the team hasn’t been able to score. The Pioneers went on a 16-2 run in the middle of the second half against Waldorf to tie and then was able to pull ahead in the final minutes for the win.

“I think we’ve already shown that we can go on runs,” Preston said. “We definitely can do it in spurts but we haven’t shown that we can do it all game.”

But the area that the Pioneers are most concerned with is their defense.

“Everything gets started on defense,” Karisch said. “If we can get a lot of steals, if we can get our hands on some balls, and get the other team frustrated. Even if we don’t get a steal, they’re running all the way down the court, getting a layup, and having to run all the way back, so they get tired.”

Involving the first years in the scoring will also be a major factor in the team’s success.

“We have three or four freshmen in primary scoring roles where they’re expected to do a lot, and they have a lot of pressure on them to do well,” Karisch said. “To some extent, the success of the team does depend on the freshmen making shots. Even those who aren’t shooting, being where they need to be on the floor and making good passes will be important.”

The Pioneers will get another chance to improve in all of these areas when they play Buena Vista College at 2 p.m. tomorrow in Storm Lake, Iowa.

“They had a great record last year,” Preston said.  “They didn’t make it to the tournament but they’re good.  They’re going to be slightly more disciplined than the two teams we’ve played so far. We’re expecting them…to be really physical and beat us up a little. Being on the road makes it more difficult than at home, naturally.”

As the Pioneers work through their tough non-conference schedule, they’re hoping to build an identity as a team. If they can keep their defense consistent and they can develop their first years then the team believes they’ll be ready for whatever Midwest Conference play will bring.

“It takes some time to get used to the new style of play and get used to new positions,” Karisch said. “It could take a couple games and it will be different for every freshman. People will have had four or five games to acclimate to ‘The System.’ We are playing tough games. If we can get through the pre-conference schedule and have our confidence intact…We will be ready.”

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