|UPDATED 6:58 p-m 12/9/09 Poor shooting, and consequently a lack of scoring punch, have been the main problems both the Knox College and Monmouth College men's basketball teams are struggling to overcome in what's been a tough start to the season for both clubs.
The two teams are a combined 2-9 overall and 1-3 in their Midwest Conference games.
Knox College won its conference match-up against Beloit College 71-63 last Saturday, the Prairie Fire's first victory of the season after dropping their first four games. Knox has played four of its first five games at home, including Friday night's league opener against Lawrence that the Vikings won 84-68.
Knox is shooting 39% (111-284) from the field and just 25% (22-89) from three-point range. The team is excelling at the free-throw line, shooting 75% (70-93). Opponents are shooting about 46% overall (124-272) against the Prairie Fire, including nearly 43% (32-75) from three-point range and 67% from the charity stripe. Knox has shot 32 fewer free-throws than opposing teams and committed 22 more fouls. Opponents also have the upper-hand in rebounding (34.0 to 31.6 per game), assists (68 to 48) and blocks (20-12).
Knox is averaging 62.8 points per game, the second-lowest total in the conference. Defensively, Knox is surrendering 72.8 per outing - third best in the league.
Monmouth College, meanwhile, is off to an 0-2 start in league play after losing at home to Ripon 74-59 and St. Norbert College 70-58 last week. The Fighting Scots are 1-5 overall. The lone win was against Eureka College, 74-65 on November 25th. The team is averaging 60.5 points per game and giving up 77.8. Both numbers are last in the conference. The Scots have played four of the first six games at Glennie Gym.
Monmouth is shooting about 38% (130-344) from the floor and just 29% (37-127) from long distance while opponents are hitting about 49% (174-357) of their shots overall and 33% (34-102) from three-point range. The Fighting Scots are shooting 67% (66-99) from the free-throw line and have taken 23 fewer shots than opponents, which are making just under 70% from the line (85-122).
Like Knox, Monmouth College is also having trouble on the glass. Opponents are outrebounding the Scots by 7.3 boards per game (40.5 to 33.2). Monmouth is also committing more turnovers (96 vs. 81 for opponents) and the team has just 58 assists to the opposition's 86.
A strength for the Scots is the team's inside play. Eric Cogdill, a 6'5" junior from East Moline, is the leading scorer and rebounder. He's averaging 16.5 points and nearly 7 boards per game. Also scoring in double figures is 6'7" senior Zach Ott. The East Peoria native is averaging 10.5 points and 6 rebounds per outing. Freshman Bryce Donaldson has also given the team a lift. The East Peoria graduate is scoring 7 points per game and shooting 47% from the field.
Knox College has three players scoring in double-figures.
Sophomore guard Ben Wetherbee is averaging 13.4 points per contest. He's also shooting 94% from the free-throw line and is tied for the team lead with 7 three-point baskets. Matt Goedecke, who along with Wetherbee has started every game so far for Knox, is averaging 13 points per contest. A 6'4" forward, Goedecke is leading team with 6.6 rebounds per game. He also has 6 blocked shots and has made 21 free-throws (78%), both tops on the team. Freshman Ian Horvath is scoring 12.6 points per game. The Addison Trail High School product is shooting 82% percent from the free-throw line (19-23).
Roger Ortiz, a starting guard for the Prairie Fire, is doing a little bit of everything. The junior from Houston, Texas leads the team in assists (18), averages 6 points per game, has 7 three-point baskets (tied for team lead), is second on the team in rebounding (4.0) and is second in total minutes played (160/32.0 avg) just behind Wetherbee.
Monmouth College resumes Midwest Conference play Thursday night at Illinois College (5-1, 2-0 MWC). Knox College's game at home against struggling Grinnell College has again been postponed. The game was scheduled to be made up on Thursday after being postponed on Tuesday due to inclement weather. But it's been postponed again because of poor driving conditions between the two colleges and will be made up at a date still to be determined. A force in the conference for years and typically one of the highest scoring teams in the nation, the Pioneers have stagged out of the gate with a 1-6 overall record - including an 0-2 record to kick off MWC play.
Grinnell lost to Beloit 91-90 last Friday, then came out on the wrong end of a 105-84 score against Ripon the following day. The Pioneers are scoring 96.4 points per game but allowing opponents nearly 117 each time out.
The Blueboys of Illinois College beat Carroll 74-59 and Lawrence 94-86 in overtime last week. IC is second in the league in scoring at 83.7 points per game.
St. Norbert College leads the MWC standings with a 6-0 overall record. The Green Knights are 2-0 in league play. Besides beating Monmouth college, SNCs' other win was against Lake Forest (69-58). St. Norbert is surrendering a conference-low 62 points per game.