Mac basketball struggles as season winds down

By Jack Wickham

After a short break for Christmas, the men’s basketball team continued its season with an away game against the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Following that game, in which Macalester’s squad lost to the Falcons 77-44, came eight more matches during the break. Despite strong performances and close scores in games against St. Mary’s and St. Olaf, the team has yet to win a game. Though the season is more than half over and the team has some of its most difficult matches coming up (including a home game versus nationally #1 ranked St. Thomas, to whom the men lost by 95-55 on Jan. 3), it has shown glimpses of potential. A common theme in the losses is a lack of offensive strength towards the end of the match. Exemplary of this was the Scots’ 69-44 loss to St. John’s on December 10. Macalester had kept the Johnnies close for the whole first half and even well into the second half. However, with 10:47 left on the clock, the opposition left the Scots in the dust with a 24-5 run that lasted until the end of the game.

Turnovers and lack of offensive rebounding have contributed to the team’s losing streak. The men have averaged 20 turnovers a game, noticeably higher than their opponents’ average of 14.5. They also average 8.2 offensive boards, compared to other teams’ 13.6.

Perhaps Mac’s most promising showing was its home game against St. Mary’s. During a promising performance at home, Mac led St. Mary’s 30-21 at halftime, though the Cardinals managed to catch up to make the game close. After a jumper by forward Colin Keeley ’11 lifted the Scots to a three-point lead with 19 seconds left, St. Mary’s answered with a clutch three pointer at 2.6 seconds to tie the game and eventually win in overtime.

The women’s team, on the other hand, holds a .500 record, with eight wins and eight losses. Due to a four game losing streak, the women have slipped to seventh place in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC), with a 6-7 record for league games. However, with a pair of post players, Ann Baltzer ’10 and Trina PaStarr ’10, averaging 14.6 and 13.3 points, respectively, the Scots have shown they are capable of beating strong teams like Whitman and Hamline, the latter of which is ranked third in the MIAC.

The women returned from break with an 80-60 loss to St. Thomas on Jan. 3. After that, they picked up one loss and three wins before beginning their four game losing streak. However, though the team’s 8-8 record seems only average, it is notable that the women have had only one double-digit loss, and average higher than their opponents in scoring, rebounding, assists, and steals. In addition, the Scots have an average of 16 turnovers per game. While this seems high, the women also force an average of 19.6 turnovers on their opponents, showing their defensive prowess.

The team’s offense centers around PaStarr and Baltzer, both all-MIAC forwards. The pair lead the team not only in scoring, but also in rebounding, field goals made, and free throws made. The offense is often centered around the post: four of the team’s top five players, PaStarr, Blatzer, Majra Mucic ’11, and Holly Schiedermayer ’12 all stay mostly in the paint.

Though the women have been tested in the last few games, the real tests will come in the next few weeks, with games against league bests Concordia, St. Benedict, and St. Catherine.