The old saying goes, “Defense wins games.”
Unfortunately, defense alone can’t win a ballgame. It was the Maroons’ offense that led to two UAA losses on the road. [img id="103262" align="left"/]
Chicago (7–7, 1–2 UAA) shot 30.8 percent from the field against #4 Rochester (14–0, 3–0 UAA) in Friday’s 64–47 loss and just 22.8 percent in Sunday’s 79–48 loss to Emory (9–4, 1–2 UAA).
Head coach Mike McGrath could not give one explanation for the uncharacteristically low shooting numbers.
“I think some of it’s playing on the road,” he said. “I think some of it is a credit to the defense the other teams played. I think some of it is dumb luck. I think some of it is we’ve got to be a little tougher physically and just kind of finish things, and I think some of it is it’s gotten to our head a little bit.”
Regardless of the low shooting percentages, Chicago contained Rochester’s star point guard John DiBartolomeo in the first half of Friday’s contest. The senior scored 10 points in the opening 20 minutes with four coming from free throws, and he only dished one assist.
“I thought we really came out and executed our game plan,” McGrath said. “It wasn’t the way he wanted to make plays and I was very, very pleased with our effort.”
Scoring nine points off turnovers, Chicago went into the break down by only four points (27–23).
But the second half was a different story.
DiBartolomeo scored 15 points in the half, making all three of his shots from beyond the arc, and also had five assists.
“It was tough standing in front of him,” third-year point guard Wayne Simon said. “They were setting a lot of screens for him.”
DiBartolomeo totaled 25 points, six assists, and seven rebounds in his 35 minutes of playing.
Against the Eagles, a 4–28 start from the field landed Chicago a 37–13 halftime deficit.
“When the first couple shots haven’t gone in, I think we panicked a little bit,” third-year forward Charlie Hughes said. “We’ve gotten together as a team and had a couple meetings and talked about it and just working on it. We’ve got a couple games off to get our legs back.”
Given that the overarching problem of the weekend was shooting percentage, McGrath will deal with the issue in two areas—the physical and the mental.
“Some of it is preparation, skill-work, and drilling,” McGrath said. “Some of it is mental [and] conversation.”
In terms of mental preparation, McGrath said he has a committed group of athletes that care about the game.
“They’re passionate guys,” he said. “It bothers them when they get down, and that gets into their head.”
But, even with a 1–2 record in the UAA, the Maroons say the season is far from over.
“Honestly, I don’t think anyone in our locker room is really panicking yet,” Hughes said. “We feel like we should’ve beaten Rochester this weekend… I don’t see us playing as bad as we did against Emory ever again.”
“We obviously just have to refocus and really dedicate ourselves. Going out and getting two wins this weekend will be big.”