When someone knocks you down, the best thing to do is get right back up. The same sentiment can be said in sports.
After suffering the first loss of the season Nov. 30, in a 90-86 overtime defeat to Saint Ambrose (Davenport, IA), the Roosevelt University men’s basketball team had little time to lick its wounds before heading to Watertown, Wisc. to battle Maranatha Baptist Bible College last Monday night.
The quick turnaround proved to be just what the doctor ordered as the Lakers rebounded from its recent loss and got back to its winning ways, pouncing Maranatha, 78-60.
“We’re glad we didn’t have a week to sulk and feel sorry for ourselves,” said Joe Griffin, Roosevelt University men’s basketball coach. “They were ready to play…we came out slow and sluggish, but the guys came together in the second half and pulled it out.”
Roosevelt held a narrow 34-31 halftime lead, but then Joe Harks took over in the second half, turning a close game into a blowout. The Lakers’ junior forward and Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference’s (CCAC) fourth-leading scorer with 18 points per game, made it look all too easy as he dropped 20 points on Maranatha after the break, guiding Roosevelt to its eighth victory of the year.
“They weren’t guarding the drive very well,” said Griffin. “Joey’s a good driver and finisher at the rim, so he was a beneficiary of that.”
It seemed all but over — Roosevelt would have no problem making quick work of their next opponent, Indiana Northwest University (Red Hawks), at the Larry and Lillian Goodman Center last Friday, but that’s why they play the game.
Last year, the Lakers throttled the Red Hawks, 77-44, on the road and may have expected the same result this time around on its home turf. The Red Hawks were a woeful 6-24 last season and had a sub-par 3-6 record to start the 2013-14 campaign heading into Friday night’s action. And in its last two games, the team had gone 5-for-38 (13 percent) from the 3-point range.
Easy win right? Not quite.
It must have been Groundhog’s Day because the Lakers’ level of play in the first half against the Red Hawks, mirrored its start against Maranatha. The team held a slight edge, 39-33, entering halftime and was not the type of start that Coach Griffin envisioned.
“We thought we had these guys prepared and focused, but evidently we’re not right now,” Griffin said during intermission.
Roosevelt had the luxury of holding the six-point edge at half thanks in part to backup guard, senior Jason Sotira (10 points), sinking a couple of 3-pointers in the waning minutes of the half, one of which broke a 30-30 tie.
“He came in and busted some threes for us, which is his specialty,” Griffin said.
But collectively as a unit, the team just wasn’t playing “Roosevelt Basketball.”
“We need to play harder and with more desperation, or this could be an upset in the making,” Griffin said at the half.
The Lakers, once again, would answer the bell.
Roosevelt opened the second stanza on a 7-0 spurt as the lead mushroomed to 13 and the team never looked back en route to an 88-70 victory.
Reigning CCAC Player of the Week Forward Kevin Priebe led all scorers with 20 points, shooting 70 percent (7-10) from the field and was perfect from both 3-point range (3-3) and the charity stripe (3-3).
Additionally, 6-foot-6 forward Jeremiah Jackson was a menace down low for the Lakers. The CCAC’s leading rebounder looked like a man among boys as he ripped down 13 rebounds while adding 16 points.
“Coach told us we needed to play harder and tougher,” Jackson said. “As a team, we didn’t play well on offense and defense in the first half.”
Still, there is plenty of room for improvement.
“I told the guys after the game in our first or second year we’d be jumping for joy with the win,” said Griffin. “But we’re in our fourth year and our standards are higher and expectations are higher, and this is a game we wanted to play better in so we’re not very happy.”
The now 9-1 Lakers will have one more opportunity to put two solid halves together against Moody Bible Institute 7 p.m. Thursday, December 14th, before its biggest test of the season: a clash with last year’s CCAC champion, Cardinal Stritch 3 p.m. Saturday at The Goodman Center.
- The Roosevelt Roundup: Week Turns Sour(chicagotalks.org)