Photos by Ally Hill ‘15
Two games down and the Lafayette men’s basketball team has until its matchup against Princeton on Wednesday to step back and review its performances thus far.
There are indeed similarities between the season opener at Villanova last Friday night and the home opener against Robert Morris University on Tuesday night in the newly renovated Kirby Sports Center.
First and foremost, Lafayette (0-2) has lost second half leads in both games.
The Leopards led the Wildcats 38-32 with 16:33 remaining, but Villanova closed the game powerfully on a 28-12 run en route to a 75-59 victory.
Tuesday night was a bit of the same tale. Lafayette led 66-57 at the 9:12 mark before Robert Morris fought back and scored 15 of the last 21 points to win 90-81.
“We don’t have Tony Johnson anymore,” forward and captain Seth Hinrichs ‘15 said. “He was always kind of the leader last year. We are learning how to win with the team we have now.”
“[A win] is just something we need to get under our belt and learn how to do.”
Fran O’Hanlon provided his perspective.
“You have a tendency how you win and how you lose,” the 19th-year head coach said. “Sometimes teams when they get up, they get a little too happy with themselves and I thought we did that. We took a couple of shots that I would have liked to have back, maybe work the clock a little bit more, look inside, get it on the block, so we’ll work on those things.”
Sure, two losses and two leads lost, but Villanova and Robert Morris are obviously no pushovers. Rather, both teams figure to play significant roles within their respective conferences this season. The Wildcats returned four starters from last year’s NCAA Tournament team while RMU is the reigning Northeast Conference champions and defeated national power Kentucky in last year’s NIT tournament.
“We showed we could play with a team that good,” Head Coach Fran O’Hanlon said following the loss to RMU. “There is a positive there.”
There are more positives for Lafayette—this team has proven in two games that it features various scoring options. Tuesday night provided sufficient evidence of that. Sophomore guard Bryce Scott, pegged by many to have a breakout year, scored a career and game-high 25 points. Others in double figures included Hinrichs (16), junior guard Joey Ptasinski (15) and junior forward Dan Trist (18).
Hinrichs will more often than not draw opponents’ best defenders and he is comfortable with his approach to that challenge.
“If they’re going to put their best defender on me, that leaves other guys wide open for mismatches,” Hinrichs said. “I’m definitely capable of taking my defender if I need to, but I don’t think that need has been there so far.”
“Maybe a few times [on Tuesday], I could have been more aggressive to help take over the game.”
Another positive lies in the play of Trist. The Sydney, Australia native posted his first career double-double last night and set a career high in rebounds with 12. Throughout the offseason, Trist focused on adding weight to his 6’9” frame and it has appeared to benefit his play thus far after averaging just 3.7 rebounds per game as a sophomore.
Lafayette will look to get its first win of the early season at Princeton on Wednesday. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. When the two programs squared off last season in Easton, the Tigers won handily 72-53.