Featured / Sports / The Prairie Fire / January 29, 2014

Men’s basketball lacking consistency

The game of basketball is predicated on offensive runs and defensive stops.  From the NBA to 2K to intramural basketball, there are always runs made by a team that cannot score enough to match their opponent. Similarly, there are times when a team’s defense is outmatched by a team’s offensive execution. It’s no different at Knox, where several of the men’s Prairie Fire teams’ games have been decided by just that.

The typical structure of these offensive runs is that one team will score on consecutive possessions, during which the opponent may miss shots, ineffectively run their offense, turn the ball over or have a low energy level which results in them not scoring. It may not seem like a big deal, , but if faced with consistent stretches of ineffectiveness, a team can find themselves down early. The issue further manifests itself in energy levels. A team’s energy can revolve around these runs, for better or worse.

Junior Armand Stricklin dribbles down the court in Knox's game against Carroll University Saturday, Jan. 18 at Memorial Gym. (Jason Deschamps/TKS)

Junior Armand Stricklin dribbles down the court in Knox’s game against Carroll University Saturday, Jan. 18 at Memorial Gym. (Jason Deschamps/TKS)

The Prairie Fire’s men’s team have found themselves in this situation multiple times recently. It is not due to an incompetent offense or having players who are not good enough. It simply happens due to a stretch of three or four possessions in which their opponent will score and Knox misses shots. Players on the team know that those times can be a struggle, but persist through it.

“[The slow stretches have] everything to do with our energy and focus. Being mentally focused to come out each half, each possession and do what we are supposed to do is the only way we will overcome slow halves,” senior forward David Jones said.

Senior guard Eric Miller agreed, saying, “We have a tendency to try and do too much individually at times, which hurts our ball movement. When we decide to settle down and run things and make the extra pass and look for mismatches and look to go inside out, we are a better offensive team.”

The Fire have had trouble on the defensive end as well. Communication on the defensive end is important as it makes up for what your teammates cannot see. If the San Antonio Spurs had better defensive communication, Chris Bosh would not have retrieved the rebound that led to Ray Allen’s series-changing three-pointer in the NBA Finals. Teams have been able to score against the Fire due to these absence of that communication.

“I think our main problem is communication on the defensive end as well as some trust issues, which this late in the season shouldn’t be happening,” Miller said.  “I think at times we are so consumed with our own man that we are nonexistent on help side.”

Knox has the ability to put together great halves. Offensively and defensively they are able to keep up with just about any opponent they are matched up against. The only difference is that their opponents have executed consistently during their runs and defensively made the correct adjustments. In their last game, Cornell went on three separate offensive runs which resulted in their lead being extended from 10 points to 16 to 20 before the Fire could eclipse 15 points.

If the Fire wants to compile wins towards the end of the season, they will have to correct these mishaps. While they are instances that every team indeed goes through, the difference between wins and losses is often just that simple.

Tags:  armand stricklin david jones eric miller knox college men's basketball

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