With only three games left in the regular season, Missouri Western now has a record of 13-9, and is desperately trying to avoid having coach Rob Edmisson’s first season as a Griffon be his first losing season as a coach.
Western has been floating around the middle of the pack in the MIAA for the last few weeks. A combination of recent losses and possible future losses could drop them back, which is something Edmisson doesn’t want to see happen.
“We are trying to stay up in that No. 8 spot so we can play at home for sure,” Edmisson said. “We have all the reason why we need to play well and play hard.”
Western’s hopes were high at the start of the season. They were especially high 10 games in, when they were looking almost unbeatable with a record of 9-1, a record that already surpassed the 7-20 Western team who made the MIAA tournament just the season before. That team had lost 11 of their last 13 regular season games before entering tournament play.
A lot of collegiate teams have trouble finishing strong near the end of their seasons. More times than not, there is a trend of losing away games. It’s always tough to play on the road, but this team is currently 6-5 at away games. Although it isn’t ideal, being above .500 on the road is always a plus.
Another common problem teams can have late in the season is stamina. This likely isn’t the case for Western either. Actually, the Griffons often show stamina as being in their favor, and play it to one of their strengths.
Western has had a high pressured defense all season long, forcing other teams to commit 20 turnovers per game so far this season, combining for 83 more turnovers than the Griffons have, despite turnovers being one of Westerns biggest issues.
Edmisson is still relying on their physical abilites to keep them in a reasonable spot as they head into the MIAA tournament.
“We stressed conditioning in practice on Saturday,” Edmisson said. “We got up and down the floor quite a bit and we told the kids we aren’t playing today but we have to tax our bodies like we were playing because you can lose conditioning at this time of year. We taxed ourselves with running so it felt like we just got done playing a game and they had that appearance.”
There is one specific area that may or may not be related to their playing issues as of late. Something about this second semester could be affecting their mental focus on their season, since there has been a noticeable fluctuation in their record.
Their early 9-1 start to their season was all during their first semester. They had a 3-2 record through Christmas break, and since school started back up they have been just 2-6. Since school started back up, this has been arguably the worst semester of coach Edmisson’s 23 year career.
Edmisson has not given up this many losses in a season since his 2001-02 season at Hutchinson Community College in Hutchinson, Ks. where he finished 18-12. Edmisson is currently on his second 3-game losing streak this season, which he is not at all used to. In fact, has not had a single 3-game losing streak in at least 10 years.
It has been a stretched out schedule near the end of the regular season. Edmisson finds it difficult to stay both mentally and physically focused with such distant games. The Griffons have only played one game a week in the month of February. Western is ready to get back into consistent competitive play to hopefully finish the regular season with a few wins.
“I think our kids our excited to go play and get back on the floor,” Edmisson said. “We have four games left and we feel like they are all winnable games to give us a chance to finish out on a positive note.”
If Western can hold on to the eight spot and play their first game at home, their next challenge will be continuing on in the tournament in Kansas City, which is Edmisson’s main goal right now.
“There are a lot of positive things for us to look forward to,” Edmisson said.