Spectators last Wednesday night may have expected to see "the good, the bad, and the ugly", but missed out on the "good".
Entering the game with a respectable, yet not intimidating 13-5 record, Allegheny College promised to be an exciting game and a possible victory for Oberlin men's Basketball. And for most of the first half, this remained a possibility.
After weathering a strong start by Allegheny, the Yeomen battled over the next eleven minutes, holding the Gators' lead to twelve, and at one point slashing the lead to eight on a driving coast-to-coast lay-up by junior point guard Jabili Sawicki.
With four and a half minutes left in the half, Allegheny was desperately clinging to a 12-point lead, looking very much a mediocre team scared to lose rather than excited to win. Then the roof fell in. Outscored 4-17 over the next seven and a half minutes, the Yeomen struggled on many fronts, among the most obvious the lack of any sort of help-side defense.
For those readers unfamiliar with this term, help-side defense dictates that defensive players more than two passes away from the ball play off of their man, forming a triangle with themselves, the ball, and their man. This both allows teammates to assist each other on defense, and helps them to avoid screens. Allegheny exploited this furiously, killing the Yeomen with dribble penetration and molesting them with screens. Couple this weakness with offensive inefficiency, and the game quickly started to slip out of the Yeoman's grasp, and the team entered halftime down by 20 points, 27-47.
First-year post Zeljko Petrovic said, "The lack of execution in our offense killed us. Missing easy layups and giving up easy transition baskets hurt us bad."
A spunky Oberlin marching band entertained fans during halftime, marching to tunes such as the "Star Trek" and "Mission: Impossible" theme songs. The Double O Spirit Squad also put on an exciting show, putting a little rise in the roof with some animated dancing.
While the Yeomen did not cut into the lead during the second half, they did manage to run with the Gators for some time. Over the next 13 minutes and 13 seconds Oberlin hung tough, scoring 19 points to Allegheny's 22.
Then bad habits, poor mistakes, and a loss of intensity caught up. Exemplified by a technical foul for illegal substitution, Oberlin committed mental mistake after mental mistake and finished out the game in an embarassing fashion. Outscored 4-16 over the last 6:48, Oberlin lost by 38 points, 56-94.
The team appreciated great fan support, and Petrovic wanted to make a point of thanking all of those who came. "I know we probably didn't deserve [their support] the way that we played, but we really appreciated it. It really gives our team a lift. Hopefully next game we can give them something to watch."
It was a negative ending to a break that held some positive improvements. Buoyed by a 6 point win over Earlham College and a 16 point win over Kenyon College, freshman wing James Knight, junior point guard Jabali Sawicki and senior post Josh Ellison all captured conference attention.
Averaging 18 points a game, Knight is second in NCAC scoring only to Dennison's Jason Rusnak, and Sawicki remains third in the conference in both assists and steals, averaging 4.7 and 2.5 respectively per game.
Josh Ellison also made the list of top conference rebounds, leading the team with a 6.8 average per game.
However, Winter Term was not all wine and cheese for our struggling team. By going 2-9 over break, they remain tied for last place in the conference with Earlham with a 2-10 conference record and a 2-16 record overall.
The Yeomen have six regular season games left, starting next Monday with a home game versus Waynesburg.
Look out: First-year LeMont Bennett controls the ball as a Gator tries to prevent the pass.
Where to now?: Yeoman senior Jabali Sawicki looks for support during Wednesday's home game against Allegheny.
Copyright © 1998, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 126, Number 13, February 6, 1998
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