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Bulldogs look to return to winning ways

January 28, 2016

 

ALEX HEARD

Staff Reporter | amh072@latech.edu

 

Basketball is a game of runs and streaks.

Alex Hamilton goes up for a layup in the Bulldogs’ 56-53 loss to Old Dominion on Jan. 7. The loss ended Tech’s 39-game home winning streak that, at the time, was the second longest in the country–Photo by Donny J. Crowe/LA Tech Communications

Alex Hamilton goes up for a layup in the Bulldogs’ 56-53 loss to Old Dominion on Jan. 7. The loss ended Tech’s 39-game home winning streak that, at the time, was the second longest in the country–Photo by Donny J. Crowe/LA Tech Communications

 

Good things and bad things are expected, as they are inevitable in basketball. The game is so fast that even if bad times occur, a team can easily recover, as an opportunity to succeed will undoubtedly present itself.

 

The same can be said for opposing teams, so teams must stay keen and alert. The true test of a team is how it responds to the losses and prove that, though bad streaks happen to everyone, that won’t negatively affect a team for the long run.

 

For head coach Eric Konkol and the Louisiana Tech men’s basketball team they have found themselves in a rough patch lately. The team has lost three of their last five games.

 

They are smack dab in the middle of conference play so things are not going to get any easier. Opponents share the same goal of winning the conference and are going to give everything they have.

 

Konkol said the team’s heart is not to blame for Tech’s recent struggles.

 

“I think it is mostly an execution thing,” Konkol said. “Our effort was very good, especially in the first half against Florida Atlantic.  Our effort was not bad in the second half.  Offensively, we are being guarded a little bit differently.  We have to do some different things there.  It is a long season.  The conference has shown already a lot of balance.  There are a lot of teams jammed up in the middle after five games.  We just need to get back on the right track.”

 

Alex Hamilton, a senior guard, said the team must get back to playing the right way and must become defense-oriented once more.

 

“A lot of (our struggles) have to do with rebounding, giving up second-chance points and points in transition,” Hamilton said. “There have been faults in our defense. It is something we have worked on in practice and hope to improve on.”

 

Tech has had trouble staying healthy this season. Konkol has had to play several different lineups to make up for players with injuries, and those lineups have been small resulting in the team’s rebounding struggles.

 

Konkol said one player is primed to return soon which could pay dividends.

“Merrill Holden is getting back to where he was,” Konkol said. “He lost some upper body strength from hurting his hand, but he was a bright moment for us. He had some really nice plays, producing both points and rebounds for us. He is getting back.”

 

Holden has been a much-needed spark off the bench this season. In games such as ones against Middle Tennessee and North Texas, Holden has done it all as he has scored points and gotten rebounds (averaging 5-plus in both statistics).

 

Konkol said getting back on track is easily obtainable as the team’s mindset is right.

 

“Our team is really focused on how we can improve,” Konkol said. “That is a competitive group.  They want to do well.  We have a lot of guys in different roles this year going through this for the first time.  We are learning a lot.  I reminded them that (when) you look around the country in college basketball; there is a lot of parity and competitive play in conference.  We just have to keep staying the course and believe in what we are doing.  Our goal this season is to be playing our best basketball at the end of February and early March.”

 

Tech ended a two game losing skid with a 70-59 win over conference rival Southern Miss on Jan 23.

 

The Bulldogs play the University of Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners at 6:30 p.m. today in the Thomas Assembly Center.

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