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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

September 26, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Sports

Team optimistic despite shaky start

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From left, junior guard Sean Rossi drives past SUNY-Cortland sophomore forward Kevin McMahon in the Bombers’ 68-67 loss Tuesday in Ben Light Gymnasium. The Bombers are 1–5 this season. SHAWN STEINER/THE ITHACAN

The loss of key players, such as leading scorer Phil Barera ’11, has caused the South Hill squad to struggle on both offense and defense.

The Bombers suffered a 92-67 blowout loss Nov. 15 at Hobart College and  fell to SUNY-Oswego and SUNY-Fredonia the following weekend. Both games were decided by five points or less.

Senior guard Jordan Marcus, who is averaging  13 points per game this season, said the Bombers have not played a consistent 40 minutes of basketball yet this season.

“We have to figure out a way to put games together where we play well on both offense and defense, and that just hasn’t happened yet,” he said. “I feel like we’re right there, we’re just not getting it done.”

The Bombers made half of their shots last season, but are shooting 44 percent to their opponents’ 48 percent through their first six games this season.

Sophomore center Tom Sweeney said the team is currently transforming its offense from last year’s run-and-gun style to a more balanced approach that focuses on patience when distributing the ball.

“We’ve been working on more plays to get all of the players involved in more of a half-court offense,” he said. “There’s still a lot of running involved, but we’re working on slowing it down a little bit.”

Marcus said the team added two plays that were successful in the team’s 91-78 loss Saturday against Lebanon Valley College.

The South Hill squad’s inverse relationship between its offense and defense in games has been a factor in its losses. While the team has done well in one aspect, it has severely lacked in the other. When the team’s offense built a halftime lead against Lebanon Valley, for instance, the defense surrendered 51 second-half points to lose the game by 13 points.

Marcus said though the Bombers are a tight-knit group off the court, the team has not quite found the key ingredients to success in games.

Junior forward Andrei Oztemel said the team knows it is only a matter of time before it starts to click on all cylinders, and that the squad is still adjusting to getting back into seasonal form with the new team.

“We’re not losing confidence — it’s really early in the year,” he said. “We’re in every game and we’re just kind of figuring this out right now.”

Marcus said the team’s morale has remained high despite the poor start since Empire 8 Conference play does not begin until Jan. 6 when the team faces off against St. John Fisher College in Ben Light Gymnasium.

“We’re going to be a good team,” Marcus said. “We’re talented — a lot of good players on the team. Hopefully, by the time conference play comes around we’ll be in sync.”