The West Liberty Hilltoppers have lost 2 of their last 3 games including an early exit in the MEC Tournament this past weekend. Both losses can be directed directly at poor shooting and getting out of their game plan. That will need to change as they travel to Virginia and take on Shippensburg on Sunday March 11th.
West Liberty comes into the NCAA Regional as a 4 seed but that could have been a little higher with a better performance this past weekend. In their loss to Charleston in the tournament,(home game for Charleston by the way) there were 3 instances in which the Hilltoppers high-powered offense was charged with shot clock violations. I don’t think they have had 3 of those all season. After the loss to Wheeling Jesuit on the final game of the season, Coach Howlett mentioned as he was finishing up his post game presser, that “crazy things happen in Charleston.” It was like he was planting a seed because crazy is what happened, although crazy was allowed to take place because of poor shooting and ugly officiating.
The guys in stripes were leaning Charleston’s way in nearly every crucial situation in that second half.
Something else to consider is West Liberty appeared to look a bit worn down in their regular season ending loss to Wheeling Jesuit, and although they destroyed West Virginia State in the quarterfinals of the MEC they would once again look like a team out of sorts in the second half of the Charleston game.
That will need to change as they take on Shippensburg whom was also upset in their tournament.
I was able to get Coach Howlett’s take on a few questions and thoughts I had in preparation for this weekends games.
Coming off the upset loss in Charleston where your team struggled offensively, now 2 of the last three… what do you and your staff need to do in order to get your guys RIGHT coming off the recent stretch losing 2 of 3?
“It wasn’t so much a rough stretch. We got beat by 2 good teams. That happens in this game. We need to continue to pay close attention to detail due to playing teams we aren’t familiar with. So there is a lot more film work, and x and o going into our scouting report.”
What players are you hoping will step forward to can help Monteroso out?
“I’m hoping we can get Jordan Watson his swagger back. He’s a guy that feeds off energy, so if the energy is good, I think he will be good! We also need Luke Dyer to step up. He probably wasn’t happy with the way he play played in Charleston and we will need him to play better if we want to go on a run!”
I wanted to get his take on my theory of his team tiring. Do you believe your team is tiring or is this just a tough stretch for them?(So much for that theory!)
“My team is not tiring. We put 130 points on the board vs WVS, and were up by 23 points in the first half vs UC. We have too good of seniors for this group to get tired and it’s my job to make sure we have energy vs Ship. I think it will be a heck of a game. ”
Here is the schedule for this weekends Games.
NCAA Division II
Atlantic Region Tournament
Saturday, March 10
(at Petersburg, Va.)
Saturday March 10th
No. 3 Wheeling Jesuit (26-5) vs. No. 6 West Chester (21-6), Noon
No. 2 East Stroudsburg (24-5) vs. No. 7 Gannon (22-9), 2:30 p.m.
No. 1 Virginia State (24-4) vs. No. 8 Virginia Union (18-14), 5 p.m.
No. 4 WEST LIBERTY (26-3) vs. No. 5 Shippensburg (23-7), 7:30 p.m.
SUNDAY, MARCH 11
Wheeling Jesuit/West Chester winner vs. East Stroudsburg/Gannon winner, 5 p.m.
WEST LIBERTY/Shippensburg winner vs. Va. State/Va. Union winner, 7:30 p.m.
TUESDAY, MARCH 13