January 13, 2012

UAA doubleheader looms large

Chicago looks to bounce back in UAA action at both Carnegie Melon and Case Western this weekend after falling to rival Wash U last Sunday.

Despite defeating Carnegie (6–6, 1–0) in four of their last five meetings, the Maroons (7–5, 0–1) are not ready to call a win too soon.

“Carnegie plays with tremendous energy,” Head Coach Mike McGrath said. “They play very, very hard.”

The Tartans’ energy showed against Case. Carnegie beat the Spartans 75–63.

“When they’re able to play with that kind of energy and also execute…they can be really, really tough,” McGrath said. “I haven’t watched enough to know if they’ve done that all year, but they definitely did it at the Case game. It makes them scary when they do.”

The Maroons are mostly concerned about the mobility of the Tartans.

“They have some very, very good skill perimeter players and, interestingly enough, a couple of 6’4” guys who aren’t big per se, but may just be big enough to guard some of our bigger players, while creating some problems at the other end of the court,” McGrath said. “How those match up combinations go will be very interesting.”

The key players that Chicago will keep a close eye on at Carnegie are forward John Duhring, forward Christian Manoli, and guard Rashaun Riley. All three Tartans are scoring double-digit point totals per game.

Past Carnegie, however, Sunday’s game at Case (8–4, 0–1) will involve a complete overhaul in mentality.

“It’s going to be kind of the opposite of Carnegie, which will make it a really interesting weekend,” McGrath said. “They’re huge, but they don’t move that well.”

With five Spartans listed at 6’7” or taller, the Maroons are at a height disadvantage. Chicago’s two tallest players are fourth-year forwards Tom Williams (6’7”) and Steve Stefanou (6’8”).

McGrath believes sweeping the games this weekend is pivotal. With one UAA loss on the road already, McGrath said that the worst-case scenario would be for Chicago to lose three more UAA road games before season’s end. In all, Chicago plays seven UAA games away from Ratner.

“If we lose these two [games], does it put an end to everything?” McGrath asked. “No, but it puts a lot of pressure on us.”

The Maroons will face Carnegie in Pittsburgh at 7 p.m. on Friday and Case in Cleveland at 11 a.m. on Sunday.