With just seven games left in the season an inconsistent offense and untimely turnovers have left the Oswego State men’s basketball team with an inconclusive 9-9 record, and ninth place standing in the SUNYAC conference.
Through their first 18 games, the Lakers rank in the bottom third of the SUNYAC conference in offense at just under 70 points per game. The Lakers have struggled to find a consistent second option to leading scorer and team co-captain Chad Burridge, who is averaging 19.7 points per game. The team’s offensive does not come as a surprise because of the talented senior class that graduated last spring.
Their two leading scorers from a year ago, and the system run by first-year head coach Adam Stockwell is one that focuses less on offense and more on defense and rebounding.
While the offense has struggled, the new focus on defense and rebounding has paid dividends right from the start for the Lakers. The defense has performed strongly this season and currently ranks at the top of the SUNYAC in points allowed, with 64.2, and has held opponents under 70 points 12 games this season.
In addition to turning around the defense, Stockwell and his staff deserve a lot of credit for turning Oswego State into one of the best rebounding teams in the conference. The Lakers are currently the best offensive rebounding team in the conference, averaging an impressive 40.8 per game.
This season has been a transition year for Oswego State. Coming into 2010, Oswego State had finished outside the top four in the conference in scoring only once in the last seven years. Last years team, which returned seven players, went from averaging a conference-best 81.4 points per game in a fast-break, guard- oriented offense to now playing in a system built around rebounding and defense.
After Burridge, the team’s two leading scorers are Conor Monaghan at 9.6 points per game and Ryan Sheridan at 8.8 points per game. If the Lakers are to make a run over the last seven games they will need these two players and others to step up and make offensive plays to help ease the burden on Burridge.
As is the case with any young team, the ability of the coaching staff to develop and mold the players to fit their system will be critical if the Lakers are to have success going forward.
In Monaghan, the Lakers have a player who can get to the rim and finish, as well as shoot three pointers. Monaghan has shown flashes of offensive potential throughout the year. Over the last seven games, Monaghan has scored 10 or more points five times, including a season-high 20 points in a 70-54 home victory over SUNY New Paltz on Jan. 26.
In addition to scoring Oswego State has also had trouble handling and passing the ball at times this season. The Lakers are in the bottom third of the conference in assists and assist-to-turnover ratio, with rankings of seventh and eighth, respectively.
The Lakers have at times played three point guards this year, but in recent weeks Ryan Sheridan has moved back to his more natural position on the wing, leaving most of the minutes at the point guard position to sophomore Mike Mcsloy and freshman Sean Michele.
After playing consistent minutes through the first third of the season, Mcsloy sat on the bench for six straight games prior to rejoining the rotation. Like many of their Laker teammates, both Michele and Mcsloy have shown flashes of brilliance followed by stretches of sub-standard play this season.
While a substantial run in the SUNYAC tournament is unlikely this year for Oswego State, the team has time on its side. Oswego State is a young team who will graduate only two players from this year’s team, which will allow Stockwell and his staff to have another year with essentially the same team to refine and perfect their system.