The UW-Parkside Rangers Men’s Basketball team (8-12) faced the undefeated University of Southern Indiana Screaming Eagles (17-0) at DeSimmone Gymnasium Thursday night, and it didn’t take long for the undefeated Eagles to hand another GLVC loss to the Rangers.
The Rangers started the game with four freshmen against a lineup of five upper classmen for an undefeated team. The Rangers would inevitably get the first basket of the game, but that was the only time they led in the entire game.
“They’re just real athletic,” said Coach Luke Reigel after the game. “They pressured the ball very hard. It’s hard for us to simulate that kind of pressure in practice, and we struggled with it early. In the second half we settled down, and did some good things, but it was tough to come back from that big of a deficit.”
The visiting Eagles came in on a different level than the Rangers. Southern Indiana was pressuring Parkside from the start of the game to the very end. They also played at such a high speed that it disrupted Parkside’s passing lanes, shot selection, and in-bounding. The direct result of Southern Indiana’s speed and pressure was turnovers, most of which were through steals. In the first half alone, the Rangers turned the ball over sixteen times, eleven of which were steals.
“Even if we played real well I don’t know if we could beat them,” said Coach Reigel. “It was disappointing. We played timid in the first half, and that killed us.”
Southern Indiana cashed those turnovers for thirteen first half points, and distanced themselves by as much as fourteen in the first half. Surprisingly, the Rangers did have a better shooting percentage through the first half of play, 41.7 percent. The problem was that their turnovers handed Southern Indiana eleven more shots in the first half.
The Rangers mistakes put them in a big hole to start the second, but had a much better going in the second half. The Rangers would actually outscore the Screaming Eagles 42-40 in the second, and part of that success came through the use of three point shooting.
In the first half, the Rangers went 0/3 from three, but started to really utilize it within the second half, going 6/9. The visiting Eagles also tried threes, going 4/23 in the game from behind the arch. While the Eagles missed plenty from afar, they went 3/15 in the first half, and generally picked up the offensive boards from their long chances.
All in all, the Rangers had a mountain of a challenge set before them Thursday night, and, mistakes aside, played a strong enough second half to keep Southern Indiana aware of what they can bring to the table. The Rangers were down nineteen points, their farthest margin of the game, with seven minutes left, and they cut the lead down to ten points. The rush was lead by Grant Johnson and Jeremy Saffold, as well as by freshmen point guard Ryan Callozzo.
While the game would end 67-78, the Rangers did get comfortable as the game progressed, and put up a fight. The simple matter was the team they played was too fast, and pressured them into so many mistakes that they couldn’t start a sustained run to get the team rolling. The Rangers turned the ball over twenty-seven times in this game, and Southern Indiana had sixteen steals. The Parkside Men’s Basketball team is built up of many young and talented players, and a game like this shows what experience will do for, not just an individual, but a team.
“I hope we’ll get a lot better and learn from this,” said Coach Reigel. “As long as our young guys keep learning from this stuff, we’ll be fine. That’s the whole point of this year, which is to get our young players a lot of experience, learn from these types of games, and take those lessons into the next two or three years of their career.”
The Rangers (8-13) will next take on the University of Indianapolis this Saturday at 3pm on Alumni Day. The University of Indianapolis is entering the game with an overall record of 10-10, and a conference record of 4-7.