Crusaders’ basketball off-season starts early

Joe Hanretty, Contributing Writer

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Junior guard Lorenzo Gonzalez drives to the basket during the Crusaders’ game against Texas Lutheran University. University of Dallas Photo.

The University of Dallas men’s basketball team came into the season with high expectations, as any team should. The team approach was, of course, a daily grind; looking too far ahead into a season can mentally derail a group. Preseason goals, however, are vital for both coaches and players as a way to grade themselves throughout the season. For the Crusaders, this year’s goals included having a strong presence in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) and getting a chance to compete in the SCAC Men’s Basketball Tournament. The outcome, however, did not match up with aspirations.

This past Saturday, the Crusaders fell for the final time this season, losing to Austin College by a score of 78-85. The problem, once again, was inconsistency, which was visible in the point margin between the first and second half. Head coach Jarred Samples had some critical thoughts about the year.

“It was a disappointing ending,” Samples said. “We just seemed to not be able to play an entire 40 minutes this year. [This past Saturday] we scored 24 points in the first half and 54 in the second half. We needed to be more consistent.”

Indeed, it was a tale of two halves for the Crusaders. Unfortunately, the most consistent part of their season has been the inconsistent narrative.

Sophomore guard Solomon Berezin agreed.

“We would go through long spurts in the first half not being able to hit anything inside the paint, but then in the second half, we had no problem,” Berezin said.

The statistics back this up: first half shooting on Saturday resulted in 32% shooting from the field and 58% in the second. That kind of disparity will kill any team, barring an equally inconsistent effort from the opposition.

On a positive note, the team is retaining much of its talent, according to Samples.

“I am excited about the future because we return all but two players, so hopefully we can learn from this year and use our experience to grow,” Samples said.

In their last game of the season, the top scorers were three players that will surely be the leaders of the locker room next year. Junior guards Michael Sarrat and Lorenzo Gonzalez, and junior forward/center Tom Kaiser each shot over 40% for the season.

As the team looks forward, the recruiting process also takes a step forward as the coaches focus on bringing in more talent.

“Now that we have more free time, we will be out watching potential recruits during the playoffs and will, of course, be hosting prospects for campus visits,” Samples said.

The team finished 10-15 overall and a lowly 4-10 in conference play. The first step in turning this team around is to focus on dominating the conference — a tall task to order, but if achieved, next year’s tournament is going to be seen in a much different light.

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