The game on Saturday, Nov. 16, proved to be the proverbial “wake-up call” that the Warhawk men’s basketball team needed as the season begins. Strong offense along with spotty defense highlighted the night as purple shone through with Whitewater taking down the attacking Viterbo University. Each team proved to be a strong competitor through each stretch, but Whitewater proved to be the stronger force.
Coming off a tough 86-90 defeat to the hands of a Washington University-St. Louis team, Whitewater had its eyes on the prize heading into their upcoming tip-off against Viterbo University.
“This year is different, we have a lot of young and talented players and we want to make sure that we put them in a good position to make plays. We might not have a lot of big guys in the 4th and 5th position but we have to maximize what we have in those potions to make our season work and keep the momentum we anticipate,” said Warhawks coach Pat Miller heading into the game.
A sense of urgency was there for the Warhawks as they headed into their lineup for the rest of the season at 2-1.
There is a need for coach Pat and his players to be on the same page to hope to qualify for nationals in the coming months. Heading into the first half the Warhawks came in and produced some good offense while allowing too much on the defensive front.
The Warhawks led 30-16 at one point in the first half, but that lead was cut down drastically with sloppy play to head into the second half.
“We have been too sloppy on the front court and have allowed the defense too many easy looks at the basket. We have to make sure that we are making the best out of every stretch we find ourselves in,” said Coach Miller.
After halftime, Miller was able to instill in his team the mindset they must have in the second half in order to ensure that they can keep a lead as they were only up 2 points on Viterbo as the second half commenced. The game had found itself in tie three times with two lead changes, something that reaffirmed the importance of staying level headed.
Warhawks led most of the minutes played, but Viterbo University proved to be a great competitor as the Warhawks were not able to seal a comfortable lead until the five-second-mark in the second and final half to end regulation. Viterbo was able to shoot 42 percent on the night compared to the Warhawks 52 percent which proved to be the difference as the time ran out and the Warhawks were able to win 79-73.
A tough fought victory on their resume will go a long way in establishing themselves as a competition now and later into the season.
“We had a tough back to back and we started off slow, but that was the test we needed to make sure we correct our play and keep our best efforts on the field. We know we have the talent as we have been able to lead against every opponent so far this season but we have to make sure we can stay locked in and maximize what we can do on both ends of the floor,” said UW-W player Brian Conoghan.
There is a growing concern among fans and analysts about the lack of size upfront in the Warhawks lineup.
“I have been stretched thinner than I would usually be but that is ok, as we will be getting people back. People are concerned about the fact that we don’t have the same type of team but I do not think that this will hinder our team long term. This is something that will make every player better, learning new roles and playing the best we can,” said team captain Riley Jensen.
Looking ahead, the Warhawks will play Ripon College for their fourth matchup of the season and only their second game at home.