Basketball team returns home with improved play

Brian Kimmes

Brian Kimmes

The men’s basketball team doubled their win total during the semester break, defeating both the University of Missouri-Kansas City and Montana State in consecutive games. After the two wins, the inexperienced team has dropped four straight games, bringing their season record to 4-14.

Although the team’s win-loss record has not shown great improvement, the team is playing better according to Head Coach Scott Nagy.

“We’re getting better … We’ve played some good teams … We’ve competed really well,” he said.

This year’s team is very young, with only two seniors on the team, and starting as many as four freshmen in some games.

Coach Nagy knew this year would be challenging, due to the amount of minutes the freshmen would see.

“They are at the point now with game experience where they are not freshmen anymore,” he said.

Even though the freshmen are gaining playing time, the team is still very inexperienced. Because of the inexperience, Nagy does not look solely at the win-loss record to determine success.

“I’m not outcome-based. I’m more process-based in this thing because I understand we’re playing a lot of young kids. Quite frankly, most teams we play are playing juniors and seniors and have men on their team,” he said.

The transition for the freshmen has been made even more difficult because of the lack of experience, according to Nagy.

“None of the other guys can take the pressure off of them (the freshmen), where if you have an experienced team, you can play a freshman that’s talented where he doesn’t have to carry the pressure, but all of our freshmen are carrying the pressure. It has made it very difficult on them,” he said.

Nagy does see a difference in this year’s team compared to last season. He said his team would have cave in to the pressure last season, but this year’s young squad is not doing that.

“It would be real easy for our guys to kind of lay down and say it doesn’t really matter. I think they’ve proven it really does matter to them. I think (it is) the kind of kids we have. They are competitive and they understand it is a process-base, and understand in two years when they’re where they need to be physically to really compete with the teams we’re playing against, we’ll be there.”

According to Nagy, another difference between last year’s squad and this year’s team is hope. He said last year the team was a long way away from completing the transition process and without a conference, but that is different this year.

“Getting in a league in the fall has given our guys a light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

One difference for the team from the beginning of the season has been the return of freshman point guard Garrett Callahan. Before Callahan returned, the Jacks’ leading scorer, sophomore Matt Cadwell, had been running the point. Cadwell has been able to move to his natural position of shooting guard with Callahan’s return.

With Callahan’s return and the improved play of other freshmen, like forward Kai Williams, pressure has been taken off Cadwell.

“They’re (the young guys) all starting to develop a little rhythm with each other. Our offense is better. I think the more they play together, the more they know how guys move and what they like and where they like the ball,” Nagy said.

The team brings its improved play to Frost Arena for a four-game home-stand. The Jacks begin the stretch with a game versus Utah Valley State on Jan. 25. The Wolverines travel to Brookings with a 12-6 record, having won six of their past seven games.

After facing the Wolverines, the Jacks’ next test will come against the University of Texas-Pan America on Jan. 27.

Middle Tennessee State is the next team to venture into the world’s largest rabbit den. On Jan. 29, the Blue Raiders will battle the young Jackrabbit team.