Some questions are asked more for entertainment than enlightenment, and some have answers that are completely impossible to prove one way or another. Philosophies not only vary from team to team, but player to coach as well.
The effects of having extended time off between games is a question that adds relevant information while bringing a smile, as roles are clearly defined with their response.
The Wolverines men’s basketball team faced this exact question Thursday night as they took the nation’s fourth longest winning streak (11) into action for the first time in ten days, only to extend it by defeating Houston Baptist 75-56.
“I certainly didn’t know how we’d react coming off an unwelcome ten day layoff in the middle of the schedule,” said Head Coach Dick Hunsaker. “During that time off you don’t know how to handle it. You don’t know if you work your team enough, if you work ‘em too hard, you don’t know what their mindset is. It really is a distraction.”
Hunsaker’s response is easy to understand, especially coming from a coach. However, Keith Thompson spoke of the rest in a slightly more positive light.
“We had that long ten days off,” Thompson said. “But Coach did a great job keeping our legs fresh and having us ready to play. We know what’s at stake and we want to keep this win streak going.”
Those thoughts by Thompson bring up another difference between player and coach: the win streak.
“We think about it (the win streak),” Thompson said. “But we just want to continue to win, so yeah we think about it, but not on the court. We know it’s there but we just want to win and keep a good thing going.”
Hunsaker’s conflicted feelings on the topic were evident in his hesitation to respond when posed with the question during his post-game news conference.
“You know,” Hunsaker said. “I hate to sound so . . . We just have to win our next ball game. It’s nice and it speaks well of our players’ consistency and their competitiveness. To put a streak like this together, with five or so on the road mixed in, they are to be commended, but it’s all about preparation for the next game.”
The current 12-game streak has not all been sunshine and lollipops. With over five minutes to play against Montana Tech, the typically cool and collected Geddes Robinson walked off the court and into the locker room following a timeout and would not to return.
Sixth man Alphonso Hubbard stepped up and took his starting spot for the Houston Baptist game and it wasn’t until nearly halfway through the first half that Robinson made his first appearance.
“I certainly don’t like distractions this time of the season,” Hunsaker said. “I think our guys are to be commended for handling it so well. It was a silly situation to have to deal with but it was something that needed to be addressed and it’s behind us.”
Robinson’s strengths have been rebounding and defense for the most part this season, but he brings other lesser-known talents to the table as well.
“Geddes is arguably our second best ball handler,” Hunsaker said. “Isiah is right there, but Geddes relieves a lot of pressure with his ball handling skills. Not having him out there as long [as usual] to break the pressure was missed. Isiah did a nice job of getting our offense going but not having the extra ball handler made it tough.”
Robinson not only missed the first ten minutes for disciplinary reasons, he was saddled with foul trouble for a majority of the rest of the game, logging only sixteen minutes in total.
The Wolverines clinched a piece of the conference championship Thursday and can win it outright with a victory Saturday against Texas Pan-American in the final home game of the season. Saturday March 3 marks the end of the regular season as UVU travels to take on North Dakota.
*All records/stats are accurate as of Feb. 24.
By Jonathan Boldt