Carnegie Mellon blasts Grove City
Coming into the 2005?2006 season, the men?s basketball team faced a big question: How do you replace eight seniors, including three starters, and still manage to be competitive? Well, bringing in ten talented new first-years is certainly a good start.
The new-look Tartans began their season this weekend with a tournament at Grove City College, and if there were questions about how well the young team would gel with all of the new pieces before the games began, there certainly were not after Saturday?s 80?64 rout over the Wolverines and Friday?s
96?68 win against Washington &
Senior Clayton Barlow-Wilcox led the way in Saturday night?s home opener at Skibo Gymnasium with 18 points and 17 rebounds to record his second straight double-double of the tournament. His running mate, Nate Maurer, added 13 points, while A.J. Straub chipped in 10 points. Off the bench, Brad Matta and Greg Gonzalez had big days as well. Matta contributed seven points in 12 minutes, and Gonzalez tied his career high with 13 points while pulling in 10 rebounds. For his efforts, Barlow-Wilcox was named tournament MVP.
The Tartans started slowly against Grove City. They shot just 36 percent from the field in the first half and took only an eight-point lead into halftime. But CMU came out firing in the second half, and went on a 9?0 run to break the game open. The game did not get close again, and head coach Tony Wingen was even able to give his first-years some playing time down the stretch.
With the win, the Tartans improved to 2?0 on the season, and seem poised for another big year. But the players know they have a long season ahead of them, and that things aren?t going to get any easier.
?This is a good start to the season with such a young team,? said Gonzalez. ?We know we still have work to do in practice to get ready for conference play when it starts.?
In Friday night?s game, the top scorers from last year, Nate Maurer and Clayton Barlow-Wilcox, led the way for the Tartans: Maurer scored 27 points, including six of nine from three point range, and Barlow-Wilcox chipped in 14 points and pulled down 13 rebounds. Sophomore starting point guard Geoff Kozak ran the offense and led the team with six assists, while senior Marques Johnson added 10 points and three assists in helping the Tartans secure a 96?68 victory.
CMU does not begin the bulk of its schedule until December 3, when conference play starts up. But at least for now, the Tartans are happy with where they are.
?With a young team we?re farther ahead than I thought we?d be,? said Maurer before this weekend?s tournament. ?But we won?t know how good we are until we start playing some games.?
The Tartans? real measuring stick will be fellow UAA foes such as Washington University, preseason champions Rochester, and Division I powerhouse Princeton. But the dominating wins over Grove City and Washington & Jefferson certainly bode well for the Tartans as they seek to replace the core of last year?s squad, integrate 10 new faces, and discover their identity as a team without faltering on court.