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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

July 25, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Sports

Hot hands maintain offensive ratio in favor of South Hill squad

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Joanna Hernandez/The IthacanFrom left, freshman guard Connor Rogers looks for an open player as junior guard Sean Rossi defends him during practice Monday.

Not one, not two, but more than three Bombers often handle the ball on offense this season, setting up the men’s basketball team for easy swishes through the net.

This year’s squad is among the nation’s best in taking care of the basketball on offense. Through 24 games, the Bombers have 390 total assists compared with 270 turnovers, which creates a ratio of 1.44. This assist-to-turnover ratio is second in Division III, behind only Clarkson University, which finished the regular season with a ratio of 1.52.

Junior point guard Sean Rossi said not turning the ball over has been a point of emphasis on offense throughout his career on South Hill.

“As a team — for at least the last three years that I’ve been here — we’ve really stressed quality and possession of the ball,” he said. “The experience definitely helped me. I know what passes not to throw now and what passes to throw.”

Freshman point guard Connor Rogers said he struggled with turning the ball over earlier in the year, and the coaches have harped on him to make good decisions when distributing the ball on the court.

“Whenever I go in and play point guard they tell me, ‘Don’t do anything stupid, be careful,’” he said.

Over the course of the regular season’s final seven games, Rogers has committed just three turnovers in 133 minutes of playing time.

Rossi has been a main contributor to the Bombers’ proficiency in assists compared to turnovers. He leads Division III in assists per game with an average of 9.2
Sophomore center Tom Sweeney said Rossi facilitates the team’s chemistry because he is able to find gaps in the opposing defense when the Bombers have possession.

“He’s got great vision,” Sweeney said. “He can handle the ball well, and he knows exactly what he’s doing. When he’s playing well and distributing it like that, everyone else kind of feeds off of it and finds the open man.”

Sweeney has come on strong as of late, scoring 27 points, 19 points and 32 points in three games against Empire 8 Conference opponents Nazareth College, Alfred University and Utica College, respectively. Rossi said he has been running specific plays so he can distribute the ball to the big man.

“Not only is he 6-foot-8 and can post up down low, but he’s been knocking down his elbow jump shot really well,” Rossi said. “So I’ve been running a lot of flat screens with him where he sets a screen and then just pops for a jump shot. I try to draw his man to help, and he’s wide open.”

Rossi said the Bombers’ strong assist-to-turnover ratio will be a major factor in Friday’s Empire 8 Conference Tournament Semifinal against the Hartwick College Hawks in Oneonta, N.Y.

“The teams in the playoffs this year are very strong with the ball,” he said. “If we have less turnovers than their team, it’s only going to help us.”