Men’s College Basketball: Trinity Christian showing improvement
By Steve Millar For Sun-Times Media February 13, 2014 5:24PM
Updated: March 17, 2014 11:13AM
Trinity Christian began 2014 with four straight losses, bringing its losing streak to six.
The losses notwithstanding, Trolls coach Brandon Nicol saw things start to change for his team when the calendar changed to the new year.
“We’ve been playing significantly better this whole semester,” he said. “In January, we had a double-digit lead against Benedictine (Jan. 2 in a 72-68 loss), we had one bad game against St. Xavier, then we lost in overtime to Calumet and had a close loss to Holy Cross. We knew we were making progress.”
The losing streak was broken Jan. 18 with an 84-80 overtime win over St. Francis. The Trolls have gone 5-3 since, improving to 9-18 overall.
“We finally turned those close losses into wins,” Nicol said. “The St. Francis win was huge. We were down (16 points) at the half and had a huge comeback. We made all the plays down the stretch. Then we came out and played a really good game against Purdue-Calumet (an 84-70 win on Jan. 22).”
That was followed by back-to-back losses to Robert Morris and Olivet Nazarene, but those were beneficial as well.
“We played really well in both those games,” Nicol said. “We had Robert Morris beat and lost it in the final minute. Those games really helped our confidence, too. It was the guys seeing how good they could be.”
The Trolls topped Trinity International 96-81 on Saturday and knocked off Purdue-North Central 86-79 on Wednesday.
Freshman Jared Jones leads Trinity, averaging 17.4 points per game. Freshman Joe Hehir (Lemont) is averaging 11.1 points and has come on strong over the last month. Jake Van Den Berg, the team’s only senior, averages 11.7 points and 7.5 rebounds.
Battling the best
Two area teams will get their shot at one of the top two teams in the nation in their respective divisions Saturday.
Trinity will host Cardinal Stritch (Wis.) — the top-ranked team in NAIA Division II — at 3 p.m.
Lewis, ranked No. 19 in NCAA Division II, travels to face No. 2 Drury at 3 p.m. in Springfield, Mo.
South Suburban College will hold its Community Day for its doubleheader Saturday against Carl Sandburg College.
The South Suburban women’s team will play at 1 p.m. The Bulldogs men, ranked No. 5 in NJCAA Division II, will tip off at 3 p.m.
Residents of the SSC District 510, local businesses and their employees are encouraged to attend the games for free. There will be raffles and a split-the-pot to support the Bulldogs basketball programs.