Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Sunday, December 16, 2018

Men’s basketball needs better focus to reach NCAA tourney

Hey, look at that. Our team is second in the standings. Yes, AU, our men’s basketball team has now officially locked up the second seed in the Patriot League Tournament for next month.

So what’s that mean for those of you back at home who are casual viewers? Nothing. For you die-hard fans out there? Same story: nothing.

The Eagles have simply been owned by the Bucknell University Bison this year. Yeah, second place is good and all, and that means that we get to host a semifinal game at AU, but when it all comes down to it, Bucknell has the Eagles’ number this season and they’re still No. 1.

I’m going to take the role of the ultimate pessimist here. With the team as it stands right now, do not look for AU to make it to the Big Dance. It’s every college team’s dream to make it to the NCAA Tournament in March, but this year, the team is just not cut out to do it.

Looking at the team, one would expect much better. This year, the Eagles have been offensively dominating. Vlad Moldoveanu, Stephen Lumpkins and Troy Brewer have held this team together when it comes to scoring. As of Sunday, Lumpkins leads the Patriot League in field goal percentage while Moldoveanu is second in the league in PPG.

But that doesn’t mean that the Eagles are legitimate contenders for the spot in the tourney this year. AU has been plagued by a tendency to play only one decent half a game. That half is really good, yes, but it’s still just one half of a game. You can’t win games against the beast from Pennsylvania while only putting together one good half.

AU also struggles just keeping the ball. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen the referee point the ball at the basket AU’s defending because of a silly mental mistake or a lack of communication. It’s the end of the season and that stuff should not be happening.

The positive energy on the bench just isn’t there — they need to be confident in themselves before AU can move on and take a stab at Bucknell.

AU needs to get its act together and use its remaining games of the season to put together some big wins. A few huge victories towards the end of the season and the momentum can carry into the playoffs and help the team get through the first couple rounds.

Inside, I’m an optimist — I want AU to win and I want our school to have the opportunity to play in the Big Dance. It’s a big deal that, lately, the numbers of people at sporting events has been rather dismal. Our campus needs a pick-me-up, and an opportunity to play in the biggest tournament of the year could definitely help us out. So pick up your game, AU. We want to win.

We want to beat those Bison. Don’t you?

sports@theeagleonline.com


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