It’s déjà vu all over again for the Maroons. After two agonizing losses at home last weekend against Emory and Rochester, the men’s basketball team now heads out on the road to play both teams again. Adding insult to injury, the team dropped in the national rankings from No. 11 to No. 21 in the past week.
The two defeats represented a major speed bump for a Maroon squad that had won 13 games in a row as of last Friday. However, the squad isn’t letting themselves get thrown, and are instead looking to their rough 1–2 start to season as a source of inspiration.
“Sitting at 14–4, we haven’t faced much adversity this year,” said first-year guard Max Jacobs. “However, we feel we’ve been put in a situation similar to our loss against Mount Union early on in the season.
“Following the loss to Mount Union, we responded with a 13-game winning streak. With an experienced group of upperclassmen and an efficient week of practice behind us, we feel we definitely have what it takes to string two games together this weekend and make a push for the UAA championship.”
As Jacobs notes, this weekend will be vital to Chicago’s conference chances. Emory currently sits atop the standings while the Maroons are tied with Rochester for second. Two wins this weekend could spring them back into first, while another two losses would put the team in an extremely precarious position.
However, even with the stakes as high as they’ve been all season, the Maroons will have a little bit of extra motivation coming in the form of revenge.
“We all still have a bad taste in our mouths from dropping those last two games,” Jacobs remarked. “There’s no better feeling than having the immediate ability to avenge those losses this weekend.”
However, while a bloodthirsty Chicago squad might sound like an intimidating opponent, the team will win or lose based on their mental fortitude this weekend. Both losses were marked by poor starts and silly mistakes, things the Maroons will need to remedy if they have any hope of defeating their two toughest conference opponents this time around.
Jacobs concurs, stating, “from a mental perspective, Coach McGrath has consistently reminded us all week in practice that we must remain ‘tuned in’ for all 40 minutes. In the Emory and Rochester games, we immediately dug ourselves into a hole by coming out flat. I think if we start each game with the same mentality that we have in the last 10 minutes, we are going to like the end results.”
The Maroons square off against Emory on Friday at 7 p.m. in Atlanta, and will then face Rochester on Sunday at 10 a.m. in New York.