The Maroons have gotten their groove back. After losing four games in a row, the once top-ranked squad dominated their matches against Carnegie Mellon and Case Western last weekend. Now sitting at 16–6 on the year, Chicago is gearing up for their final three games of the season, the first of which comes on the road this Friday at NYU.
Unfortunately for the South Siders, the effects of their four-game skid are still felt, as the team will need to win out the remainder of the season if they want to guarantee themselves a playoff spot. However, the squad is comfortable with their backs against the wall.
“We’re excited for the challenge,” said third-year point guard Tyler Howard. “I think it will cause us to be more tuned in than usual knowing we have to win out to make the playoffs and continue playing.”
The team was able to recapture their success from earlier in the season, where at one point they won 13 in a row, thanks to their ability to successfully push the pace of play.
“We had a really good week of practice,” Howard noted. “[We] tried to push the ball more in transition which really helped our offense.”
The team will look to continue this success when they travel to New York this Friday, but they will find a formidable opponent waiting for them in the Violets. Sitting just above Chicago in the UAA standings with a record of 18–4, NYU lost to the Maroons earlier this year by a score of 69–58 at the Ratner Athletic Center. However, they will have the home court advantage this time.
The Chicago squad will simply be looking to continue their style of play, which is evocative of a team ranked No.11 in the nation earlier this year. By returning to an identity built on the basis of teamwork and communication, the team has been able to out-gun and out-muscle their opponents both on the perimeter and in the paint.
“Execution-wise we need to continue to play unselfish and make the extra pass,” a reflective Howard remarked. “Defensively, we need to continue to communicate and not let them get any offensive rebounds.”
If the Maroons can pull out a victory this weekend, only Brandeis and Wash U, both teams that Chicago beat earlier this year, will stand between the team and a postseason bid. Given the high-flying success that this team experienced at the beginning of the season, anything less than a playoff berth will certainly be looked upon as a disappointment.
Tip off against NYU is scheduled for 7 p.m. later tonight at the Coles Sports Center in New York City.