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Men’s basketball team shoots for consistency

By Joel Wright
On January 17, 2011

In a season of ups and downs, the men's basketball team has come out with a record that doesn't have big numbers in the win column.

The team has only three seniors though, and head coach Andy Carrier said the team is still growing together and gelling as they gain experience.

"It helps that our relationships and chemistry be strong," he said. "This is a good group of guys. They're trying hard and they like each other, and they are facing the adversity of losing close games."

Junior forward Antonio Stewart said the team is close to coming together, but they just need to do a little more to get where they want.

"We have to buy in," he said. "If everyone buys in and does what we're supposed to, we'll start winning games."

The Braves started the season with eight consecutive road games, which Carrier said has potential to help and hurt young teams. Those first few games included matchups with Division I UMKC and Division II Emporia State.

The Braves went 2-6 in that stretch.

"The first eight games on the road can toughen the guys, but it can backfire and cause them to lose confidence if they aren't winning," Carrier said. "We lost more than we won, and I think that hurt, so in conference play we're still trying to be consistent and close out on the floor."

Carrier said there were a couple of things that needed to be corrected in order for the team to be successful.

"I think we need to get the focus back on the defensive end," he said. "We've guarded some great teams and held them to low shooting percentages. We've got a good team, but we can't seem to hold our focus in close conference games."

He also said the team needed to fix some things offensively to get on track.

"We have to sharpen our execution on offense in tight ball games," Carrier said. "We seem to break down on key possessions, like turn the ball over, or not get the shot we want or miss the shot we want.

Saturday night the men defeated Kansas Wesleyan 65-53, by doing some of the things Carrier mentioned.

The game recap on, said the Braves held Kansas Wesleyan to 30 percent shooting, while shooting 36 percent, and converting key shots down the stretch when the Coyotes trimmed the Braves lead to one.

The recap said the Braves won the game on defense.

"The Braves clamped down on the defensive end. In the final seven minutes of the game OU outscored KWU 15-3."

A position on the team that has been in constant transition is point guard.

The Braves started the season with 2010 All KCAC Honorable Mention selection Isaac Johnston at the beginning of the season, but since his departure, different players have filled that slot.

Carrier said he is encouraged with what the other guards have done.

"We've been through transition and adversity at point guard," he said. "We lost Isaac, moved players around and changed roles. Larry Barber and Demarcus Doucette have done a good job, though."

Stewart said he's optimistic the team will finish the season strong after a slow start.

"We've lost some close games, and that had our confidence down, but all we need to do is win to get it back."

Carrier would agree with that, saying victories will boost the team's morale.

"We need success to gain confidence" he said.

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