This weekend, the University of Chicago men’s basketball team finished out its preseason play with an 84–31 blowout win over the visiting Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). The victory brings the Maroon’s record to an impressive 8–3 heading into season play, while IIT dropped to 0–12.
The Scarlett Hawks came out with a 2–3 zone defense in the first half of the game, trying to slow down the Chicago offense. The ploy seemed to work, as the South Siders missed their first six shots of the game until first-year guard Jake Fenlon hit a dagger from beyond the arc. Fenlon went on to score eight of the team’s first 13 points, jump-starting the offense and paving the way to a dominant win.
The Maroons were able to combine their sharpshooting with a dominating presence down low. The home team outrebounded its opponents by a shocking margin of 50–15, resulting in a 41–10 advantage for points in the paint.
“We really practiced executing our offense the way we wanted to”, said first-year forward Collin Barthel. “We did a good job handling the zone defense, and we knew we had a size advantage that we could use down low.”
In the second half, Chicago was able to extend its lead to 49–14. However, what was most impressive about the 53-point win was that the bench for Chicago accounted for almost two-thirds of the team’s points. The ability of the whole team to score is something the Maroons will no doubt try and take with them into conference play.
“Overall we had a good preseason,” said second-year guard Tyler Howard. “We won the eight games we were supposed to win, but lost three close games to very good teams. If we execute better during conference play, we should be able to win those close games.”
The first game of the 2015 UAA season for the South Siders is against Wash U. The Bears are currently ranked No. 1 in the nation by the NCAA, coming into season play with an 11–0 record and 622 points. Wash U is also coming off an 88–78 road win against Coe College from December 20.
“The biggest obstacles against Washington University is not to have mental lapses on defense because they are very disciplined and will take advantage of any mistakes we make,” Howard said.
The last time the Maroons and the Bears met was in the last game of season play in the 2013–14 season. Wash U defeated Chicago 86–73 through its sharpshooting and presence down low—two things the South Sider’s defense will try and take away this time around.
Tip-off is set for 3 p.m. this Saturday at Ratner Athletics Center.