Men’s Basketball Commentary: College faces challenging end schedule

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February 8, 2008

5:46 PM

With another CAA victory in tow, the Tribe now stands at 9-3 in the conference and sits in a tie for second place with George Mason University. Since a Jan. 2 home loss to the University of Delaware, the College has won nine of its last 10 CAA contests, including four consecutive road victories.

p. Throughout this stretch, the Tribe has proven itself as a conference contender and as a team that can finish close games. Of its past nine victories, the College has won six by less than four points. And in four of those wins, the Tribe erased double-digit deficits.

p. Its largest conference victory to date came yesterday in the form of a 74-62 defeat of Hofstra University. The wire-to-wire win should give the College even more confidence heading into the latter third of its CAA schedule.

p. Now, the Tribe will face a series of tests as they hit the road for three straight games away from Kaplan Arena. Moreover, just two of its final six conference games will be played at home. Granted, the College is 4-1 on the road in conference play, but in the middle of February, CAA games become more important, and opposing arenas become even tougher places to play.

p. At this point in the season, about eight teams are vying for a top-four seed and first-round bye in March’s CAA tournament. For the Tribe to remain near the top of the conference, picking up a few road victories becomes imperative.

p. The next three games will all be rematches for the College, and first up is a date with Northeastern University in Boston Saturday — one of the four teams the Tribe defeated after trailing by 10 or more. After that, the Tribe heads south to face the University of North Carolina—Wilmington in Trask Coliseum, arguably the CAA’s most difficult arena in which to play. From there, the
College heads to Towson University.

p. Sure, the conference did the Tribe no favors when it back-loaded its schedule with road games and contests against Mason and Virginia Commonwealth University, but the College has proven that its methodical offense can win games.

p. In two of its most emphatic CAA victories the Tribe committed only eight turnovers, and in its past two games the College has a team assist-to-turnover ratio over three. Seniors Nathan Mann and Laimis Kisielius have come alive offensively, and the team defense has remained steadily strong, ranking third in scoring defense in the CAA. The Tribe is playing its best basketball at a critical juncture in the season.

p. To win ballgames, the College knows it has to make shots, play strong defense and win the turnover battle. In order to pass its road exam, the Tribe must rely on what has led to its victories and operate within its offense. Doing so could keep the College in the mix at the top of the conference, and in position to grab a first-round bye in the CAA tournament.

p. __E-mail Andrew Pike at [email protected]__

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