January 11, 2012

SPORTS: Blog -- Men's Basketball Continues Road Struggles

by Candis Cunningham

Have you ever gone bowling and rolled the ball right down the middle? The ball has some nice pace as you hear the soft rotation humming down the lane before it hits the pins. You just know you are about to hit a strike and see the graphics on the score screen telling the entire bowling alley what you just did.

But then only nine pins fall instead of 10. You were almost there, but not quite.

Excuse the long analogy, but that’s all I can think about after this last week seeing the boy’s basketball team lose two games after winning six straight.

So close, but yet so far.

Consistent, but yet so inconsistent.

They were close when they started the preseason and home opener 5-0, but was still very far when they lost the next four games of the regular season. They followed with a 19 point home win against Texas Southern, but went back down the disappointing side with another four repeated losses.

Hold on, wait. How about the Jags stepping up to an unpredicted 6-0 home stand to stretch through December? I can’t say I was ever anticipating that. The joy from the wins was great for the holiday season, but I’m pretty tired of the team playing with my emotions.

The six game winning streak showed endurance, consistency, leadership, skill and nothing but hard work. The two Summit League losses in one week exemplified bad nerves. As if the home games are all that Jags need to get a W. The 0-7 home record supports that.

Coach Todd Howard recently spoke about how the team’s cylinders were clicking and they know each other better now which allows them to play comfortably. Senior Stephen Thomas has been nothing short of a leading point guard since coming back from his severe ankle injury at the beginning of the season. His classmate Alex Young leads the team in scoring (surprise), Summit League Preseason Player of the Year, as well as the conferences’ player of the week and month in December.

Sophomore Ian Chiles has showed his skillful athleticism and has brought it to surface to help add needed points during the winning streak. Freshman Lyonell Gaines has killed the offensive glass to score when the Jags couldn’t connect offensively.

That’s just a brief summary of the advantages IUPUI possesses but that still leads to an unsuccessful season. Maybe they can switch to two-a days for practice to add more comfortability to take with them on the road.

Now the Jags can get back to .500 this week with home games Thursday and Saturday night. But looking past this week, they’ll fall further into a losing record if they follow the path they’ve been on so far.

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