Basketball teams still alive in tournament hunt

By Albert Shelby

January 15, 2014

om both teams, men’s and women’s basketball looks to get back on track in the second half of the season.

Both teams struggled in conference play, witha combined record of 3-11 mid-way through the season.

The women started off hot, winning their first four games of the season convincingly.

The winning streak was short-lived, and the Griffons ended up dropping six straight games, including four in MIAA play.

The women have suffered from injuries and are looking for a consistent scorer after losing guard Ariana Novak to a knee injury early.

Novak’s ability to shoot from behind the arc made her a bright spots for the Griffons, and still leads the team in scoring with 10 points a game. The sharp shooter also proved to be a weapon on defense, recording 17 steals total.

She dropped a season high 17 points against Missouri S&T, which was the last time she saw any action on the season.

Forward Sharniece Lewis has also been a threat from behind the arc, but also had trouble staying consistent.

Her best game came against Missouri S&T, when she dropped 22 points, including six three-pointers from long range.

Rebounding has been one of the biggest improvements for the Griffons since last year. Forward Tiara Hall has been a force on the boards, averaging 6.8 rebounds a game. She totaled a season -high 13 rebounds in a win against Nebraska-Kearney.

With a 5-8 record, the women still have a shot at making the tournament at the end of the year, and it starts with improving their conference record.

The men have had a roller coaster season so far, with multiple roster changes due to injuries and other issues.

After starting 6-3, while also knocking off #15 -ranked Fort Hays State in overtime, the men suffered a three game losing skid.

Injuries to forward Dzenan Mrkaljevic and eligibility issues with forward Cedric Clinkscales forced freshman Charlie Marquardt into the starting lineup.

Coach Brett Weiberg noted that, without Clinkscales, changing their game plan has been a factor since his absence.

“With Cedric, we could throw it to him, and we could get some points,” Weiberg said. “So, I think it has had an affect on us in the way we can score the ball, and then it has had an affect on our rebounding.”

In the previous game against Pittsburg State, Marquardt contributed a season high 14 points against the Gorillas.

Guard Ryan Devers has had the hot hand for most of the season. Devers leads the team in scoring by averaging 17.5 points a game.

Teammate Dareon Jones had high praise for Devers and his ability to lead.

“I really think he is probably the best point guard I have played with,” Jones said. “He is a great scorer. He gets everyone else involved and I am glad I play with him.”

Coach Weiberg noted he was also impressed with Devers play, and feels that he will only get stronger at the point guard position.

“We knew when we signed him, he would be a good player,” Weiberg said. “He has a big challenge because we need him to score the ball, but we also need him to be the point guard and lead our team.”

He dropped a season-high 35 points in a win against Nebraska-Kearney. Consistent free throw shooting from Devers has also been key to his game. He shoots a team high 88 percent, while at the free throw line.

With a 7-8 record, the men also have a shot at making the tournament.

With the consistent play of Devers at the point guard position, the Griffons have found themselves in good position to finish their season with a winning record and tournament berth.