Men’s basketball team aims high, falls hard vs. UAA
By Reba Lean
Sun Star Reporter
“We cannot put the ball in the hole today,” said a disgruntled Coach Clemon Johnson after Saturday’s game against cross-state rivals UAA. The Nanooks tried to better their last place conference standing in a home game against the Anchorage Seawolves but lost 56-42.
In the beginning, it looked almost too easy for the Nooks. Leading by ten points, the home team had the crowd of 472 convinced that the night would end well. Senior Emmanuel Jenkins put up 11 points for his team and senior Clayton Edwin made a promising early three-pointer.
Then the Seawolves woke up.
With three and a half minutes left in the half, the fast and chaotic Seawolves tied the score up at18 points. Their constant hard passes whizzed past the Nanook’s eyes until shots opened up and the half ended with the Seawolves ahead, 25-20.
In the second half, UAA widened their lead to nine before junior Nashorn Maynard could put an answering layup on the board. The Nanook’s zone defense discouraged penetration from the Seawolves, but they responded with three-pointers that seemed to sink in every time. Before long, the Seawolves were up 13 points.
Coach Johnson sent in three of his seldom-utilized freshmen; Cole Daniel, Colten Growden and Mason King; and pulled out senior Jon Moe. Moe had been heavily guarded, and had only contributed his two free throw shots after being fouled. In the last minutes, Maynard fouled out, and the newer players took on man-to-man defense. The tempo picked up but the fast-paced ending was just not enough for the Nooks to pull up. The Seawolves took the game.
“I’m fishing,” Johnson said about playing the young guys. They came to play ball for UAF, so it wasn’t an act of desperation from the coach, but it was a new angle. The players that are usually the offensive core just weren’t having their best day. Johnson did give their defensive playing a B+, though.
“I thought we played really, really good defense for the first time,” Maynard said. He said he was disappointed that the offense wasn’t just a little better.
Jenkins made no points in the second half, and the team’s score showed something was definitely missing. “We’re burning Emmanuel out,” the coach said. Johnson is worried that, with all the effort Jenkins puts in at practice and on the court, he’ll end up on crutches soon. “We have to find someone else to put the ball in.”
Next, the Nanooks host Western Washington and Central Washington, ranked two and three in the conference, on Feb. 11 and 13. Then, the following week, they head to Lacey, Washington to face off with Saint Martin’s, who is just one rank above them in the conference.