Despite Sunday’s loss to the bottom-ranked Austin College, the men’s basketball squad has gotten off to a tremendous start in 2013. The new year meant the beginning of SCAC conference play for the Tigers. They have certainly proved that they deserve to be at the top of the conference.
Of the seven games that the team has played in the SCAC thus far, they have won five, six of which were on the road. Besides Sunday’s loss, Coach Andy Partee said he’s very happy with the way the Tigers have been playing.
“Anytime we play on the road and go 4-2, I can’t really be too disappointed. When you have a bulls-eye on your back, people bring their best; Austin brought their best, and we came out flat,” Partee said.
On the first weekend in January, the Tigers swept the first of their three trips to Texas by beating both Southwestern and Trinity University for the first time since joining the conference. Joseph Howard, a sophomore forward, said that the highlight since starting conference play was in the game against Trinity.
“The highlight has to be the road win over Trinity. It’s the first time since our head coach joined the program that we have beaten them on the road and the win gave us sole possession of first place in the SCAC,” Howard said.
Juwan Rohan, a freshman point guard for the Tigers, also reflected that the win against Trinity was a highlight.
“That was an amazing experience and everyone felt good afterwards. We were excited to get back to work and prepare for the other conference games,” Rohan said.
The Tigers returned to Colorado College to play their only home game of the seven-game stretch, beating Johnson and Wales 71-59.
The team then went back to the Lone Ranger State to take on the University of Dallas in a double-header. They split the series, winning a close game Saturday night. Despite losing Friday night, Partee was excited about freshman forward James Lonergan’s performance in front of his hometown crowd.
“James Lonergan had a career night against Dallas and got to do so in front of his family, which was really special.”
Following another week of practice, the Tigers travelled to Shreveport, La. and beat Centenary College 76-61; a game in which junior point guard Ryan Milne scored a career high of 36 points. Milne was awarded SCAC Athlete of the Week for the performance. The victory helped the Tigers reclaim full possession of first place in the SCAC.
For the third time in three weeks, the Tigers returned to Texas to take on Austin College in hopes of keeping Austin winless in the SCAC. Unfortunately, as Rohan said, the Tigers didn’t show up ready to play.
“Mentality and physically we weren’t ready. We thought coming off some good wins that we could just cruise by Austin at their place and expect the win, instead of earning it. And they showed up. As you can see, they played like they had nothing to lose, and that is why things fell apart for us, because our lack of focus.”
With Southwestern coming in Friday night to play the Tigers at home, and Trinity playing here the night after that, the team is refocusing and preparing to bounce back.
“My plan for the week is to focus on ourselves. Refocus on our process. If we do things right, winning is a byproduct. And we’ve also go to revel in the fact that we get to play three straight weekends at home,” Partee said.
The Tigers’ games this weekend are at 8 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday in the Reid Arena.