By Paige Carswell
The men’s basketball team needs things to start clicking—and fast.
Coming off of a 7-1 preseason, the team entered conference and immediately lost the first two. They’re hoping to turn things around tomorrow evening when they play Ottawa at home at 8 p.m. tonight.
Matt O’Brien, head coach, attributed the first two losses to the rotation of positions happening as Dennan Morrow, junior guard, and David King, senior center, come back into the rotation after being sidelined with injuries during preseason.
“This is Dennan’s third game, and King just started playing when conference started,” O’Brien said. “The big thing for us is we’re not in panic mode right now. We’re just fine-tuning the things we’ve been doing. The more minutes we play together, the better we’re going to get.”
Against Ottawa, the key is to be able to play smart, O’Brien said.
Ottawa is 1-1 in conference play.
“Ottawa is a strong, well-coached team. For us to beat them, we’re going to have to play smart and play as hard as we can,” he said.
That’s something they didn’t do in their 65-63 loss at Kansas Wesleyan University, he said. “We played well at Kansas Wesleyan, but we didn’t play smart.”
The bright spots for the Builders in the game were the 21-point contribution from King and 20 from Morrow. King had been battling a knee injury, and Morrow was out with a foot injury until just a few games ago.
“He [King] is doing a great job for us right now, considering he hasn’t played in almost two years,” O’Brien said.
Before their return, the Builders had been relying largely on the efforts of Chris Nelson, junior guard. Nelson is ranked No. 11 in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics in defensive rebounds per game (6.667), No. 15 in field goal percentage (0.596) and No. 33 in total rebounds per game (8.22).
But, his most important role, O’Brien said, is defensively. Nelson was able to hold Matt Dickman, guard for KWU, to 1-for-9 shooting during that game, which was a 30-percent lower field goal percentage than Dickman’s average (Dickman is currently No. 32 in the NAIA in points per game).
“We’re hoping he becomes our stopper,” said O’Brien.
And among the other things O’Brien is hoping for is just a little bit more time for his team to adjust before heading into the rest of their conference games.
Paige Carswell is a senior majoring in convergent journalism. You may e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.