By BRIAN LESTER
ALLENDALE, Mich. — Don’t worry about hitting the panic button or calling 911 for a basketball emergency. There is no need for it.
Sure, two straight losses for the University of Findlay men’s basketball team is a a cause for concern, especially when the games against Ferris State and Grand Valley State carried so much weight for the Oilers in a highly competitive Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
But the Oilers are going to be fine in the long run, even after an 85-81 loss to FSU and an 81-76 loss to GVSU. They always find a way to work things out and play their best at the right time. They have done it the last two years en route to winning two consecutive GLIAC tournament championships on the road.
Their biggest issue at the moment is learning to finish the deal when they have control of a game. Take Saturday’s game against the Lakers in a building that has typically been a house of horrors for the Oilers.
UF led GVSU 69-61 with 4:58 to play inside the GVSU Fieldhouse Arena, and all it had to was make the possessions on both ends of the floor count down the stretch, taking good shots on offense and being smart on defense.
The Oilers, though, were unable to carry that lead to the finish line as the Lakers rallied for the victory. A game the Oilers should have won turned out to be a second consecutive painful loss.
“I have no problem with our effort. We played well for about 34-35 minutes in both games,” UF head coach Charlie Ernst said. “But our inability to execute, finish defensive possessions, protect the ball, take good shots and communicate on defense in the last five minutes added up and we lost. You have to be able to do those things well, especially on the road.”
The Oilers have the talent to be a very good team. We have seen plenty of glimpses of that potential. This team is also smart enough to execute when it matters most, and with a little work, they will get back to being a team that closes the door on an opponent in crunch time.
The first shot comes Thursday night when Saginaw Valley State comes to town.
“Everyone has to share the responsibility for the last two loses,” Ernst said. “They have to learn from this week and make sure that the next time we are in this position, where we are in a close game with the lead with four or five minutes left, that we play different and come out with the win”
So hold off on hitting the panic button and put down the phone. There is no need to call 911 for a basketball emergency. The Oilers will learn from the tough road trip and be fine in the long run.
Follow me on Twitter: @BLester1993