Men’s basketball starts the season 3-3
TNE Editor

Men’s basketball starts the season 3-3

Published 11/28/17

Zach Cobler

TNE Writer

The RiverHawk men’s basketball program has started 3-3, which is the best start for the men’s team since 2013. With this start, the RiverHawks have a winning record for the first time since the end of the 2013-14 season.

Under the direction of new head coach Mark Downey, the RiverHawks have played well defensively and showed a fight that has not seemed to be in the program over the past few years. The fight the RiverHawks have shown does not always show on the stat sheet, but it has been evident in the defense and rebounding.  They have held their opponents to less than 31 percent shooting from beyond the arc and have rebounded the ball well on top of that. They are averaging more than 40 rebounds a game. They have only been out-rebounded once this season against Northwestern Oklahoma.

“We have out toughed every team in my opinion and played harder than them,” said Montre Willams, senior guard from Copperas Cove, Texas. “One of the coach’s keys to the game is to be relentless, and we try to bring that every night.”

Offensively, NSU has struggled to find their groove consistently in the early season. At times this season the RiverHawks have shot the ball extremely well, but they have struggled to shoot it well with consistency. They are shooting above 40 percent in only half of their games. The early season shooting woes are not highly alarming.

“We are still going through our growing pains of having a new staff and a new team,” said Downey. “Our guys are still learning each other and our system. They’re still learning where the shots are going to come from and that will come. We have to get over the early season jitters that we have dealt with.”

The RiverHawks will open up their conference play as they travel to Northwest Missouri State. They will try to continue their impressive start to the season as they get into their conference games. After being picked to finish 12th in the preseason MIAA poll, they will play with a chip on their shoulder to show they are better than expected.

Northwestern Missouri State is currently ranked No. 1 in the NCAA Division II poll. They are the reigning national champions and have not lost in 17 straight games. If the RiverHawks hope to take down the Bearcats, they will have to stifle the Bearcats high-powered offense that is averaging more than 81 points a game. NSU will have to shut down Justin Pitts who is averaging over 22 points a game for Northwest Missouri and has not turned in less than 20 points in any game this season. Pitts was the DII Bulletin and Basketball Times National Player of the Year last year and currently holds the record for career points at Northwest Missouri State.

“We have started the season with ups and downs,” said Lucas Antunez, senior guard from Madrid, Spain. We have to get better at being consistent and playing at the best of our potentials every game. Once we start figuring out the small details, the sky is the limit for us.”

The RiverHawks continue their season when they open up their MIAA conference play against Northwest Missouri State at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 30 in Maryville, Mo.

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