SPORTS

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January 28, 2011

Shooters hope to return to form against Case

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After a three-game losing streak, men’s basketball hopes to recover this weekend with two home conference games. The Maroons face Case Western at 8 p.m. tonight and Carnegie Mellon at noon on Sunday.

Head coach Mike McGrath does not want the team to look at the past, but towards the future.

“You can’t stop being enthusiastic,” he said. “We have time.”

Despite two tough losses to Brandeis by a score of 59–53 and NYU by a score of 62–47 this past weekend, the Maroons feel the trip along the East Coast was a learning experience.

“The weekend obviously wasn’t good for us, but it pointed a lot of things out that we still need to work on,” third-year guard Michael Sustarsic said.

One aspect the Maroons feel they can work on is their offense. The Maroons have been shooting at a decent clip from the field this year with a .436 field goal percentage and a .386 shooting percentage from behind the arc. However, this past weekend the Maroons struggled, converting only 30 percent of their shots against NYU and 32 percent against Brandeis. The Maroons are looking to improve these numbers heading into this weekend’s games.

“We’ve been focusing a lot on finishing around the basket with defense there,” Sustarsic said.

“We have been focused on execution and making sure we are doing things the right way every time,” third-year forward Tom Williams added.

To finish around the basket, the Maroons look toward aggressive play from their big men, especially Steve Stefanou. Stefanou is coming back from an injury and has played a combined total of 29 minutes over the past two games. However, McGrath senses the improvement Stefanou is making every minute on the floor.

“He looks better every day,” McGrath said. “He’s slowly getting that comfort level back.”

Looking toward Friday’s match, McGrath knows that Case Western’s record of 3–2 in the UAA and 7–9 overall does not depict the team’s true potential. The Maroons have begun watching tapes of Case, and they know the plan of attack.

“When you watch them on tape, they’re really scary,” McGrath said. “We need to control the boards.”

A loss would be devastating to the Maroons’ conference position. The Maroons are in a four-way tie for fourth place in the UAA; Case is currently in third.

“We’ve got to win on Friday and the guys are ready for that,” McGrath said.

While the Maroons are concentrated on Friday’s match for now, they understand the importance of beating not just Case, but Carnegie Mellon as well. Carnegie is tied with the Maroons in the UAA standings.

“If we don’t win, it puts us in a tough position as far as the UAA goes,” McGrath said.

McGrath understands that Carnegie Mellon is a threat not to be overlooked because of their 2–3 record in the UAA and 5–10 record overall.

“They are a very high-energy team,” McGrath said. “They play very hard.”

If this weekend ends with two victories for the Maroons, McGrath knows they have the possibility of winning the UAA title.

“Coach [McGrath] has told us we can still make a run at the league championship if we play to our potential,” Williams said.

The Maroons are hoping to be victorious this weekend with the support of the home crowd and raucous atmosphere at the Ratner Athletic Center.

“It should be a fun weekend of basketball,” McGrath said.

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