By Judd Liebman
After starting league play with nine straight wins, the boys’ basketball team dropped two out of its last three games. After a big loss to Loyola on Feb. 14, the team also fell to Alemany on Feb. 9, dropping its overall record to 22-4 and its league record to 10-2. With his team going into CIF playoffs with little momentum, Greg Hilliard knows his team needs to regain the sense of urgency it once had to do better.
After watching film of past games, the Wolverines know what they need to do in order to be successful in playoffs. Hilliard’s strategy this year was to utilize his big men down low. Most of the offense revolves around center Zena Edosomwan ’12, who averages 17.5 points per game, and forwards Josh Hearlihy ’12 and Damiene Cain ’11, averaging 15.2 points and 13.6 points, respectively. Size has been an advantage for the Wolverines, but of late, teams have been clogging the paint defensively.
Guard Jordan Butler ’11, averaging 10.0 points per game, has had to step up recently with defenses’ focus shifting toward the big men. After laying in the game winning basket against Crespi on Feb. 7, Butler has increased his offensive presence, putting up 17 points in the Wolverines’ loss to Alemany.
“It’s up to the guards to stretch out the defenses and to knock down outside shots to reestablish the big men,” he said.
Butler thinks much of the team’s slump can be attributed to lackadaisical play in addition to some nagging injuries. Hearlihy, who was shooting 54 percent through the team’s first 21 games, only hit 38 percent of his shots in the last five games due to a thumb injury. Cain also has been struggling with a hamstring injury. Butler injured his finger in the Wolverines’ slim victory against Crespi.
“At this time of year, the heart might be willing when the body is not,” Hilliard said. “Some players have played a lot of minutes. Rest will be a key component to our preparation.”
Ranked number one in the CIF Division 3A, the team will play Beckman today at 7 p.m. in Taper Gym.
“We cannot reinvent the wheel,” Hilliard said. “We will just work hard on what we do and pull ourselves out of this slump that all teams go through during a long season.”