By Jake Loel
Last Friday, the University of Dallas men’s basketball took on the Pirates of Southwestern University in the first home game of the semester. The fans saw the return of former UD basketball star, Ross Davidson, as an assistant coach. The first half turned out to be a high-intensity game with no clear leader. The Pirates struggled with turnovers but compensated with a high percentage of perimeter shooting (46 percent). Sophomore Michael Sarrat, who leads the team in average points per game, struggled from the three-point line. The Crusaders finished the first half trailing, with a close score of 32-37. With the stands almost completely full in the “Corral in Maher Gym” sponsored by the Blue Crew, and loud support after the completion of key plays by senior forwards Mark Promberger and Aaron Wyatt, the Crusaders gained a much-needed energy boost. The Crusaders began to play more aggressively, which led to a scrappy second half, including many debatable calls by the referees and as many turnovers. A Pirates player pushed sophomore guard Lorenzo Gonzalez from behind, and senior guard Kym Malone committed a technical foul, leaving a Pirates player squirming in pain on the floor. The Crusaders, provoked by the physical play of the Pirates, never managed to close the gap and fell to the Pirates 87-77.
The next day, the Crusaders took on the Bulldogs of Texas Lutheran University. Sarrat apparently recovered from his dry spell the day before, putting up three points on the board and having one steal in the first minute of play. The Crusaders were able to find the holes in the Bulldog zone defense, and as the Crusaders finished the half with an 11 point lead, it became apparent that the entire squad had figured out their ‘A’ game. However, in the second half, the Crusaders guards let their emotions run high again and the Bulldogs were able to close the gap to just three points with 15 minutes to go. A time-out talk by head coach Jarred Samples calmed the Crusaders for a few moments. However, Samples soon had to call another time-out to cool his steaming Crusaders, who had begun to behave emotionally, trash-talking the other team and swearing audibly. The Bulldogs shared in the blame and often seemed more inclined to compete in boxing rather than basketball. This led to a sloppy, foul-ridden second half, with one team provoking the other. This lasted until the last minute, when a foul by Promberger resulted in a free throw which brought the Bulldogs within two. The score sobered the Crusaders, who began to play maturely, and a pair of free throws by Sarrat as well as another by Wyatt secured the win 73-68.
Promberger defended the team’s behavior. “We’ve lost several in a row, so of course it was an emotional game,” he said. “We were hoping to turn our season around.”
The Crusaders have an 11-6 record, which Promberger says the team is unhappy about. “[The team is] upset we’re not starting the conference play out well… we want to have a higher seed for the tournament,” Promberger said.