Justin Chapman | Echo
After starting the season 8-1, the men's basketball team has lost 10 of their last 16 games. Their record now stands at 14-11.
Since their great start, the team encountered multiple two- or three-game losing streaks. Once they won one, they then lost multiple games in a row.
This recent mid-season skid does not seem to add up. The only players the Trojans lost from last year were two bench players. This team contains enough talent and enough experience to hold a better record than this.
To mix the starting five up, head coach Josh Andrews took senior forward Keaton Hendricks out of the starting lineup and substituted him for freshman guard Vincent Miranda.
"It helped coming into a starting lineup with guys that had experience and have been around the block a few times," Miranda said. "It happened earlier in the year when we were going through a little bit of a lull, just to switch it up, (to) try some new things defensively."
Putting Miranda into the lineup gives the Trojans a smaller lineup, but one which can compete better if other teams are quicker and hold a smaller starting lineup.
In the Trojans most recent game, Taylor fell to Saint Francis 89-58. According to Andrews, the Trojans became too careless with the ball and committed too many turnovers. Saint Francis took advantage of Taylor's mistakes and turned the Trojans' turnovers into points.
"(It's) not the end of the world that we lost the (Saint Francis) game; we're still in shape to make the conference tournament," said sophomore guard Mason Degenkolb. "We just need to make sure we're playing the best basketball we can when conference tournament time rolls around. From there, anything can happen."
Last year, the Trojans headed into the national tournament with a record of 20-11 after losing their first game in the conference tournament. Taylor may have to win the rest of their games to have a shot of making the national tournament again this year.
Improvements are still being made by the team, and they are still full of hope as they near the end of the season.
"We've got a lot of dangerous players; we think we're a dangerous team," Andrews said. "Our guys have gotten so much better defensively. We've cleaned up a lot of areas that I think hurt us in December when we kind of went on a skid."
Playing the Crossroads League conference can make for a terribly tough schedule. Tomorrow, they will face Mount Vernon Nazarene with tip-off set for 3 p.m. in Odle Arena.
"Photograph by Brad Timmerman"