February 11, 2005

Men sweep, up to third spot in league

Men's basketball has gone through a roller coaster ride this UAA season, but over the past few weeks, third-year forward Clay Carmody has proven himself as a solid foundation for Chicago's post game.

Carmody averaged 21 points and 7.5 rebounds last weekend as the Maroons (9-11, 5-4) swept two tough conference rivals. After four straight road losses in which the offense only scored 62.5 points per game, the team bettered that figure by an average of 20 points a game, defeating Brandeis Friday, 80-65, and NYU Sunday, 86-72.

"We've been inconsistent shooting the basketball, which I don't think is necessarily unusual for basketball teams facing the kind of competition we do in the UAA," head coach Mike McGrath said. "The thing that Clay has done here this weekend—along with [fourth-year forward Mike Dolezal] to a lesser degree and a few others—is give us consistent play in the post. You'll be able to count on that more than if you shoot the ball from three."

That consistency showed early Friday night, with the Maroons establishing a permanent double-digit lead over Brandeis 9:27 into the game.

Fittingly enough, the team's three fourth-years—Dolezal, Brian Cuttica, and Justin Waldie—scored the game's first three baskets to put the Maroons up 8-0. The trio provided the balanced inside-outside support on which the team depends.

Cuttica and Waldie each scored 11 points, and Dolezal added eight. They were efficient, shooting a combined 6-for-7 from behind the arc, but most of all, they provided some stifling defense that helped limit the Judges to 32 percent first-half shooting. Chicago, on the other hand, shot 61 percent in the first half and 80 percent from downtown, creating a 47-26 insurmountable halftime lead.

"A balanced presence is really what they give us," McGrath said. "As other guys have become more comfortable in their own roles, we've had to rely a lot less on Brian, Justin, and Mike for scoring. They can pay more attention to the other things, and they do those better."

Sunday presented a tougher challenge, with a solid NYU team desperately trying to recover from their recent slump.

The teams exchanged leads six times in the first half, as both sides took advantage of easy buckets inside. Third-year guard Jesse Meyer—averaging over two three-pointers a game off the bench—hit two in the opening period to help establish a couple leads, but NYU fought back to tie it at 30 with a late layup by fourth-year Jeff Gilkerson. Carmody took charge of the team after the break, scoring 10 of the team's first 14 points in the second half. His second consecutive layup and a foul at the 15:31 mark gave Chicago a 44-36 lead that held for the rest of the game. He finished with 27 points and six rebounds in only 21 minutes of play.

"Clay's work been very pleasant, but not a surprise," McGrath said. "I thought when we recruited Clay, by the time he was a junior, he would become a legitimate first-team All-UAA player."

The Maroons now look to carry the momentum on the road, where they have been woeful of late. At 0-4 at other UAA teams and 2-8 on the road overall, Chicago has battled offensive inconsistency away from Ratner all season. The team faces Case in Cleveland tonight and Emory in Atlanta Sunday. The Maroons beat both teams earlier in the season at Ratner, dropping Emory 62-57 January 14 and defeating Case 82-71 January 16.