The UChicago men’s basketball team heads into the third weekend of UAA play in the middle of the pack. However, two road wins would be huge for Chicago this weekend. The Maroons face off against the Tartans from Carnegie Mellon University and the Spartans from Case Western Reserve University in games that have recently been closely contested. Last year, the Maroons had a pair of close calls with each of these teams: it took a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Jake Fenlon to win it against Case Western, and UChicago lost a heartbreaker at home in overtime against Carnegie Mellon. Playing away from the soft rims and friendly crowds of Ratner Athletic Center has not been kind to the Maroons this season who are 0–6 away from Ratner. Hopefully, Coach Mike McGrath can right these road woes with two massive wins this weekend ahead of a difficult home stand next weekend against Emory and Rochester.
A key to the Maroons attack thus far centers on their balanced scoring. Though they are usually lead by fourth-year shooting guard Jake Fenlon, the supporting cast has been huge recently. This past weekend, fourth-year forward Collin Barthel chipped in 19 points, one shy of his career high. Second-year center Sam Sustacek dropped 19 points on 8–11 shooting against Brandeis with third-year guards Justin Jackson and Noah Karras pouring in 14 and 13 points, respectively. Orchestrating this balanced attack has been point guard Jordan Baum. The second-year dazzles with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.7 and 86 assists on the season which places him in the top 15 in all of DIII.
Taking a look at the Tartans and the Spartans, both teams are coming off losses to Emory and Rochester. Both teams are relatively inexperienced and lead by their sophomore classes. Case Western relies strongly on the three-point shot with over 45 percent of their shot attempts coming from behind the arc, while Carnegie Mellon utilizes a more balanced attack. Second-year guard Jake Berhorst commented on the two teams this weekend, saying, “We are going to be dealing with a lot of ball screens this weekend, so we need to communicate really well and bring a lot of energy to keep guys out of the paint. We also want to close out to their shooters so they don’t get going early.”
These two games could be a springboard for the Maroons in UAA play with two massive games next weekend at home against Emory and Rochester, two top 25 teams. Berhorst commented on the team going forward. “We still have plenty of things we need to improve on, but the team is feeling good going into our first weekend on the road in the UAA. We are looking to keep things rolling this weekend on the road.”
The Maroons square off against Carnegie Mellon at 8 p.m. EST on Friday night in Pittsburgh and turn around for the second leg against Case Western at 12 p.m. EST Sunday morning in Cleveland.