February 22, 2013

Season can end on a high note or with blues in St. Louis

[media id="104683" align="left"/]It’s the end of the road for the Maroons.

This Saturday, Chicago will play one final conference game against #14 Washington University, a team it lost to 96–67 on January 5 in their first meeting of the season. After a grueling three and a half months of basketball, the South Siders are looking for redemption and one last W.

“Our mindset is confidence in the fact that we are going to play our hearts out, and in each practice leading up to Saturday,” third-year guard Kate Casaday said.

Thus the team is using the possibility to go out on a win as motivation. However, the battle is going be tough. Wash U is currently third in the UAA, and, after defeating Brandeis 57–62 last Sunday, they now have a record of 19–5 overall and 9–4 in conference play. Chicago is currently 7–17 overall and 3–10 in the UAA.

Nevertheless, the Maroons believe that the improvements they have made since the last time they faced the Bears might give them a leg up on Saturday.

“Over the course of the season everyone has gained a lot of experience, and we’re continuing to learn how to play with each other as a unit,” second-year guard Morgan Donovan said. “We’ve really improved our team defense and rebounding ability, and I think if we are able to execute both of those concepts we will put ourselves in a really good position on Saturday.”

Rebounding has been a particular strength of the Maroons. Over the course of the season, Chicago has succeeded in winning the battle of the boards against the majority of its opponents. It will be a key area once again on Saturday.

“Rebounding plays a big role in any game, but I think it will be essential in this game,” Donovan said. “If we are able to limit their offensive rebounds and get some ourselves, then we have a really good shot.”

However, as much as the game is going to come down to a physical battle, specifically on the boards, the Maroons are also going to have to play a smarter game.

“Playing harder than Wash U is a key to beating them, but it also must be accompanied by playing smarter and adjusting to take advantage of the opportunities that their game plan gives us,” Casaday said.

Chicago must play a tight overall game in order to beat Wash U. The contest will be an uphill battle, but if the Maroons can capitalize on their strengths and mitigate the Bears’ offense, the team stands a chance.

“I think we will match up much better this time,” Donovan said. “We’ve come a long way since the first conference game, and now we know what it will take to beat them. We know the effort and focus that will be needed to win and how important executing our offensive and defensive strategies will be.”

Tip-off is at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Washington University’s WU Field House.