February 7, 2013

Maroons welcome UAA elite for weekend showdowns

[media id="104258" align="left"/]Riding a two-game win streak, the Maroons will need to keep up their hot shooting against much tougher UAA competition this weekend.

Rochester (19–1, 8–1 UAA) and Emory (14–5, 6–3) visit Chicago (10–10, 4–5) on Friday and Sunday, respectively, each coming off wins. Rochester is first in the conference standings, Emory is fourth, and the Maroons sit in fifth place.

Not only will the Maroons have some momentum, they’ll also have home court advantage, which proved significant in a 81–73 win against Case Western (9–11, 2–7) and a 79–59 rout of Carnegie Mellon (4–16, 1–8) last weekend.

Chicago, which has struggled shooting the ball at times this season, converted 44.8 percent of their shots from the field against Case and an impressive 50.9 percent against Carnegie.

Head coach Mike McGrath attributes this season’s shooting inconsistencies to youth and shot selection.

“We do have a young group, and shooting a lot of long range shots can greatly affect a shooting percentage when shots aren’t going in,” McGrath said.

To be successful this weekend, the Maroons have to be wary of over reliance on the long-range jumper.

Recently, Chicago has been led by third-year forward Charlie Hughes and third-year point guard Wayne Simon. Hughes averaged 16.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game last weekend, and Simon added 14 points and 3.5 steals per game.

“[Hughes and Simon] have been figuring out when to be aggressive,” McGrath said, “And [they] have just been more comfortable on the court.”

Hughes agrees with his coach.

“Lately I’ve been more aggressive on offense, and my shot has been falling,” he said. “I had a four or five game stretch towards the beginning of the season where I struggled to create my own shot, but since then things have been coming more easily for me.”

The Maroons also received solid production from sharp-shooting second-year guard Alex Pyper, who averaged 13.5 points per game last weekend. However, Chicago will need a few more players to step up this weekend against two much better UAA teams.

The obvious key to beating Rochester will be stopping their star player.

“For Rochester, it’s all about keeping their point guard John DiBartolomeo under wraps, since he’s the catalyst for pretty much all of their offense,” Hughes said. “He is probably the best point guard in the country and will probably be national player of the year.”

DiBartolomeo leads the UAA in points (23.7) and assists per game (5.9).

According to McGrath, Emory is a “very balanced” team, so there’s not one player on which to key the Maroons’ attention. Hughes thinks the formula to beating the Eagles includes limiting turnovers.

“Against Emory we need to handle their defensive pressure and take care of the ball,” Hughes said. “We had too many turnovers when we played them the first time which allowed the game to get out of hand.”

The Maroons lost that game at Emory by a lopsided score of 79–48. Chicago also lost at Rochester in their first meeting, 64–47.

The Maroons tip off against Rochester at 8 p.m. on Friday and against Emory at noon on Sunday. Both games will take place at the Ratner Athletics Center.