Volume 97 Issue 6 Sports

Men’s basketball team shoots for post-season success

by Alyssa Fasolo

The men’s basketball team is looking to end its season with a bang and accomplish its goal of capturing a Landmark Conference championship. The team is currently sporting a record of 15-8, with an 8-6 conference record.

The season started off on a high note, with the team remaining undefeated for eight straight games for the first time in program history.  The team began with a 67-63 victory at Allegheny before going on to defeat Cazenovia and Penn State Altoona by scores of 82-69 and 87-57, respectively, in the Coaches vs Cancer Tournament.  The team went on to defeat Washington and Jefferson 81-59 and Marymount 69-65 both on the road.

The Eagles picked up two conference victories both at home against Elizabethtown and Scranton by scores of 63-47 and 54-52, respectively.  They won their first game of the Doc Greene Tournament 71-61 against Penn State York before picking up their first loss of the season 65-53 against Randolph in the second game of the tournament.

The team bounced back, however, and defeated Pitt-Bradford 63-51 at home.  After this victory, the team picked up its first conference loss against Drew with a score of 78-71.  In the next two conference contests, the team came out victorious, beating Goucher 69-62 and Elizabethtown 60-46.

The team lost its next two games 73-68 and 60-55 to Eastern and Susquehanna, but came back with a three game winning streak, beating Merchant Marine 85-67, Catholic 79-67 and Moravian 79-62.

The Eagles then lost their four games all to conference opponents by scores of 60-54 against Goucher, 79-78 against Drew, 74-71 against Susquehanna and 84-71 against Scranton.

After losing these four games, the team is looking to capture victories in all three of its final regular season contests in order to remain in the running for the Landmark tournament.  The team defeated Merchant Marine 86-69 on Feb. 13 to remain on track to accomplishing its goal.

“We put ourselves in a pretty good position,” senior forward Nate Ogle said.  “I think we are, by a lot of statistics, the best defensive team in the Landmark, and we put ourselves into a good position to make the playoffs.”

In order to finish out the season the way they hope to, the members of the team feel that toughness is a must.

“We have to step up and basically prove that we’re a championship team because we’ve kind of had a little bit of an up and down season at times,” Ogle said. “We have to really prove that we have the toughness to go out and win a tough game when it matters the most.  It’s something we haven’t done the last three weeks, and we’ll need to do if we want to reach our goals this season.  We have to prove our toughness.”

Head coach Greg Curley feels that the team’s key to post season success will be to remain consistent.

“We need to be more consistent,” Curley said.  “Our real challenge has been our consistency and that individual responsibility and accountability to do things right all the time.”

The players are looking to tackle each game one at a time, keeping their goal of being a championship team in mind.

“Each team brings (its) own challenges,” senior guard Justin Fleming said.  “We treat each game the same, and we play our same game.  Obviously, we have a game plan for each opponent, but we’re going to play the same way each game, so it’s almost irrelevant who we’re playing against to some extent.  We don’t have to be scared of anyone.”

Many of the athletes feel that their greatest strength is their ability to work well as a team, combined with their execution of plays during games.

“Our personalities and our ability to be friends on and off the court and be able to work together as a team and our play making abilities (are two of our greatest strengths),” sophomore center and forward Marcus Lee said.

With two tough games against Catholic and Moravian coming up, the team is focused on stepping up its game.

“Honestly, the ball can bounce a lot of different ways, but we’re going to compete to the end, and that’s what’s important,” Ogle said.  “We need to put ourselves in a position to win games, and we’ve been doing that, but we haven’t been tough at the right moments, so really it’s going to take us to grow and really be that tough team that we strive to be.”

In addition to winning the Landmark Championship, being the best defensive team in the conference was also one of the team’s biggest goals this season.  The players feel that they have succeeded with this goal thus far.

When asked how the team is doing with its goals, Fleming said, “Excellent, because one of our goals was to be the best defensive team in the conference, and we have accomplished that.”

Regardless of the outcome of the season, Curley is pleased with the team’s progress.

“We still have a lot of work to do, so we’ll have to see,” Curley said.  “We’ve played at this point (23) games, and we’ve shown up and played hard and competed every game, and that’s very, very difficult to do.  Our execution isn’t always as consistent as we’d like, but the fact that we compete and play really hard every night has given us a chance to win every single game, and we need to continue to do that, and hopefully we’ll be able to capitalize on the opportunity that creates.”

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