The Missouri Western menâ€™s basketball team got off to a fast start this season, but they have cooled off as of late.
The Griffons won five of their first six games this season, winning by an average of 13 points. They then proceeded to lose five of their last six. Their lone victory, during that stretch, came against conference opponent Washburn.Â
Now that conference play has started, the Griffons will look to pull out of their slump and make a run for the conference title. Menâ€™s head basketball coach, Tom Smith, believes itâ€™s going to take better practices to get to that situation.
â€œWe are going to have to come out and work hard everyday in practice,â€ Smith said.
The Griffons have four players averaging double figures in scoring. Reggie Bunch leads the team with 18.5 points per game, with Lonnel Johnson close behind averaging 18.2. The other two players averaging double figures are Gus Moss at 11.5 and Jay McFarland at 10.7. McFarland has been limited to three games this season. Offense is something Coach Smith feels is a strength of his team.
â€œWe have been able to come out and score points so far this year,â€ Smith said.
Areas where the Griffons will need to improve in are defense, free throw shooting and limiting turnovers. They are giving up an average of 72 points a contest. Coach Smith believes hard work will show dividends on the defensive end.
â€œWe need to work harder on the defensive end,â€ Smith said.
Free throws have been an issue for the team so far. The Griffons are shooting 62 percent as a team, so far this season. If they can improve from the charity stripe, it could translate into more wins for the team in conference play.
Turnovers have also plagued the team so far this season. The Griffons are averaging 17.2 turnovers per game. Cutting down on the turnovers will help the Griffons to control games and should translate into more victories.
The Griffons play in a tough conference. The MIAA has two teams ranked in the top 25. Pittsburg State is ranked number 14 and Northwest is ranked number 16. Also, eight out of the ten teams in the league have a winning record so far this season.
The Griffons have two players in the top five in scoring for the MIAA. Bunch and Johnson who are the team leaders for the Griffons are number three and four in scoring for the MIAA. They also have two players in the top five for rebounding in the conference. Bunch is ranked fourth at 7.6 per game and Keion Kindred is ranked fifth at 7.5 per game.
The Griffons will continue conference plays with a home stretch this week. They will play Central Missouri Wednesday and Fort Hays State on Saturday. They will try to get back in the win column against these conference foes.Â