Back-toback MBC losses a rarity for New Richmond boys basketballThe two losses suffered by the New Richmond boys basketball team last week definitely qualify as a rarity.
The two losses suffered by the New Richmond boys basketball team last week definitely qualify as a rarity.
The last time the Tigers lost back-to-back Middle Border Conference games happened nearly seven years ago. In January 2006, the Tigers lost consecutive MBC games to Prescott and Durand. That was the year before Rick Montreal took over as the Tigers’ coach.
The two straight losses hadn’t happened again until the Tigers lost to Durand and Baldwin-Woodville last week.
Last week’s losses drop the Tigers to 1-2 in the MBC this season and 3-3 overall. Montreal said this Thursday’s home game against Somerset “will be the biggest game of the season,” because a loss would drop the Tigers three games out of the lead in the MBC standings.
Playing top quality defense has been the Tigers’ brand since Montreal took over as coach of the team in the 2006-07 season. He said the performance of this year’s team on the defensive end of the court has been his greatest concern. The Tigers have given up 55 or more points in four of their past five games.
The Tigers have won past championships on their strong man-to-man defense, but the coaches are grudgingly finding out that defense isn’t a good fit with this year’s team. The Tigers have been a better team when playing a zone defense. The Tigers used a 1-3-1 zone last week, with Joe Deppe at the front of the zone, and it had effective moments. The Tigers also had some good moments with a 2-3 zone, which leaves Deppe, Jake LaMirande and Taner Hoppe in position to take away most close-range shots.
The two opponents last week, Durand and Baldwin-Woodville, likely have the strongest offenses in the conference at this point. Montreal expressed surprise at the balance Durand displayed in its 55-49 win over the Tigers last Tuesday. The Tigers were within striking range in the third quarter at 26-22. Durand then went on a 14-2 run to take charge of the game. The Tigers were hurt by several turnovers in that stretch when they dribbled into situations where they were easily trapped by the Durand defense.
The turnovers and lack of scoring balance are areas of concern for the Tiger offense. Deppe scored 26 of the Tigers’ 49 points against Durand. It was the same against B-W, with Deppe getting 26 of the Tigers’ 49 points.
“Joe can’t do everything by himself,” Montreal said of the Tigers’ lack of scoring.
Montreal said the team is going to have to get more competitive in practice in hopes of sparking more interest in scoring. By the second half of Friday’s game, it was clear the coaches were willing to give their bench players more opportunities to prove they could contribute. One reserve who earned more playing time was senior Dustin Reed, who played quality minutes in both games last week.
“Dustin might be a nice surprise coming off the bench,” Montreal said. “We’ve tried a number of things to improve our depth.”
In Friday’s 63-49 loss to Baldwin-Woodville, the Tigers had no way to stop B-W guard Logan Weyer, who lit them up for 35 points. Weyer took over the game in the second quarter, scoring 15 points to help the Blackhawks lead 35-18 at halftime.
The Tigers weren’t able to make inroads into the B-W lead until the fourth quarter, when Deppe scored 10 straight points to cut the lead to five points. Joey Miller got free under the hoop to score, cutting the margin to 52-49 with 3:40 left.
The Blackhawks then closed the game with an 11-0 run. The Tigers turned the ball over several times in those final minutes to ruin any chance of completing their comeback.
Montreal said there are offensive strengths the team can build around. He said the team has retained excellent shot selection and they pass the ball well within the half-court offense. Miller led the team with five assists against Durand and LaMirande had four assists.
After facing Somerset on Thursday, the Tigers will have plenty of time to work on improvements. They won’t play again until Friday, Jan. 4, when they play at Amery.