SPORTS

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February 6, 2009

Homestand offers chance to reprise win at NYU

This time last week, men’s basketball was headed for NYU and Brandeis on a road trip that included some of the highest highs and lowest lows of the team’s season. Now the Violets and the Judges are coming to the Windy City and the teams are going to run it all back, this time on the Maroons’ home court.

The UAA basketball schedule has reached its halfway point, meaning it’s time for the teams to play back through their conference schedule, this time in nearly reverse order and at the opposite location. So tonight, the Maroons (2–16, 2–5 UAA) play the Brandeis (12–6, 5–2) squad that thumped them 67–36 last Sunday. This Sunday, Chicago will face NYU; Chicago beat NYU last Friday for just its second win this season.

For the Maroons, the challenge this weekend will be replicating the performance that put them past NYU, while fixing whatever troubles allowed Brandeis, the UAA’s second-best team, to beat them by more than 30 points.

That means, first of all, that Chicago has to limit its turnovers, and when they do turn the ball over, the team has to limit the points NYU and Brandeis create off of turnovers. The bulk of the Judge’s 30-point margin was built during two runs, one just before halftime and one just after. Both times, a flurry of turnovers by the Maroons gave their hosts lots of looks at the basket, and both times Brandeis capitalized on the opportunities. Chicago had a season-worst 19 turnovers on the day.

The situation was reversed at NYU. Against the Violets, Chicago committed only six turnovers—one of their lowest totals this season—and only one of those came on a steal. Steals are especially troublesome turnovers, since they are so easily turned into fast breaks and layups. Two days later, Brandeis picked up a whopping 13 steals against the South Siders.

At the same time the Maroons are learning from last weekend’s action, they have to expect this weekend’s contests to differ. In New York, Chicago held the Violets to rebounding and free throw shooting numbers that were well below their season averages. The Maroons can’t count on that success holding up this time around.

Chicago also stands to benefit from some changes this weekend. Brandeis has rarely gotten as many steals as they did against the Maroons, and Chicago had one of its worst shooting days all season in Boston.

To compound the Maroons’ offensive troubles, third-year forward Matt Corning, the team’s leading scorer, wasn’t in top form against the Judges. He ended the game with just four points in 12 minutes of play, well below what the team has come to expect of him. If Corning and his teammates can play like they usually do and show that last Sunday was just an aberration, a win will still be hard to come by. If nothing else, they’ll be sure to give the Maroon faithful a game worth watching and give the Beantown Ballers (with apologies to Kevin Garnett and company) a true run for their money.