Photos by Katie Weeks ‘16
Win February: It was Wednesday night in the media lounge of the Kirby Sports Center and Fran O’Hanlon was asked about the difficulty of responding strongly after the lopsided loss his team experienced on Saturday to Boston University.
The 19-year head coach quickly pondered the question, glanced up and replied, “You have to [respond]. Our goal right now is to play well in February. We are 3-1 in February.”
Lafayette has now won three of its past four league contests and appears to be a different team than the one that took the court during the nine straight league losses in January.
The defensive miscues and nightmarish rebounding have subsided for the time being and that was evident against visiting Loyola University Maryland on Wednesday in a 61-44 victory.
The score 27-22 at halftime, Lafayette used a barrage of scoring in the form of a 24-8 run to start the second half and blow open the once back and forth contest. The run included four three-pointers – two of them back-to-back from sophomore guard Zach Rufer.
O’Hanlon altered his starting lineup for the second half, using Bryce Scott ‘16 instead of Nick Linder ‘17 at the point and Rufer as the two-guard.
“I think one of the things was Zach had a nice first half and I wanted to play both of them because it gives us more size,” O’Hanlon said. “I think we have a good rotation with five or six guys on the perimeter that can play. I have that luxury.”
Forward Dan Trist ‘15 led Lafayette with 14 points and was followed by co-captain Seth Hinrichs who had 13 points. Freshman forward Michael Hoffman tied his career high with nine points and Scott added nine as well.
The previous meeting between the two ended in a 77-63 victory for Loyola. Hinrichs was out with a left knee injury and his presence tonight was felt.
“[Hinrichs] has great savvy, I like him a lot,” Loyola head coach G.G. Smith said.
Down the sideline from the Lafayette bench was former assistant coach Josh Loeffler, who now holds the same position for Loyola.
“Josh was telling us they will be a different team with [Seth] and they were,” Smith said.
Next up for Lafayette is American University tomorrow at 2 p.m. at the Kirby Sports Center. American is tied for first with Boston University with an 11-2 league record.
Hinrichs reaches 1,000-point club: The junior needed 12 points to become the 39th member of Lafayette’s 1,000 club and surpassed that mark with a turnaround layup in the second half.
Asked whether he was aware of the mark, the Clara City, Minn. native replied, “no, to be honest, I didn’t. When they announced it, I didn’t know what was going on. I looked up at the jumbo tron and I was on there and everyone stood up so I was like ‘oh, ok, sweet.”
“I wasn’t really thinking about it but I guess it’s good to put it behind me and keep moving forward.”
“He’s trying to get 2,000 now,” O’Hanlon added.
Hoffman makes progress: Notable Wednesday was the play of Hoffman. The freshmen started and became more comfortable as the game progressed.
“I think Mike getting the start gave him a confidence boost,” Hinrichs said. “I think he was a little nervous to start right away.”
O’Hanlon cut in, “He gets a little nervous in practice too,” before Hinrichs replied, “He gets a little nervous in practice when I scare him but that’s a different story.”
Hoffman has improved throughout the season and is now being called on in a more expanded role.
“The more I play, the more I can feel around for different situations,” Hoffman said. “From how I felt on the court, it was [my best game this season].”
Near the end of the second half, the Burleson, Texas native had an alley-oop opportunity but failed to convert.
“That’s going to haunt me for awhile,” he said laughing. “I just need to put that down.”
“Probably of all our guys, he is our best rim protector,” O’Hanlon said.