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The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

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Knox Men’s Basketball works to alleviate road woes

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The Prairie Fire recently won their first road conference game in four years. Now, it’s on the men’s basketball team to show some consistency in the last month of the season. 

Road games are challenging. In most of them, you’re traveling by bus for 2-3 hours and have to play as soon as you step off the bus. However, you have to win those away games to be the best team.

Knox finished 2-10 on the road during the last full season before the pandemic, and is currently 1-4 in away conference games. Their win against Monmouth on Jan. 29 was their first conference road win in four years. With aspirations to make the conference tournament, Knox has to figure out how to cure its road woes.

“I say it’s mainly mental. It’s the biggest hump that we’ve struggled with this season,” senior guard Isaiah Lockett (who notched a double-double against Monnomouth with 14 points and ten rebounds) said.

The primary goal for Knox is playing at their best on the road. There are stretches where they’ve looked like a team primed to compete with any team in the conference, but they have not yet been able to sustain it.

“Our biggest issue was not pulling together a full game,” Lockett said. “In all of those games, we’ll have a lot of good stints, but there are a lot of stints where [the opponent] makes their run, and we have our lapses.”

Senior guard Jordan Rayner added: “We have a couple of possessions where we don’t execute offensively or finish a possession on defense. Every second matters in this sport.”

Basketball is a fast-paced yet methodical game. Your mind and body have to be in sync.

“While you’re competing at the highest level offensively and defensively, that’s where the lapses come,” head coach Ben Davis said. You’re competing hard, but you’re getting hit with a backscreen, and you forget how to defend that screen.”

In their four conference road games this season, Knox has been inconsistent. Aside from their blowout against Grinnel, Knox has played close games against their conference foes. In the first half against Ripon and Lake Forest, they were outscored by 9 and 11 points, respectively. In the second half, the script flipped: Ripon outscored Knox by two points, and Knox outscored Lake Forest by 10.

“We’ve done a good job as a team of making halftime adjustments,” Davis said. “Sometimes, on the fly, we see something new. We have to do a better job on the court where if we make a mistake one time of fixing it. Our guys have done a good job of when we get punched, responding to it.”

The players and coaches know it’s paramount that they’re at their best from the beginning of the game instead of playing catch up.

“It comes down to starting from the jump, solid,” Rayner said. “Our main thing as far as now putting together a 40-minute game has been not starting strong. We’ve shown flashes, but for the majority, we haven’t. If we start the game off strong, we can hold the lead; the game usually goes our way.”

Against Monmouth, Knox set the tone in the first half, outscoring them by four points before pulling away at the beginning of the second half. Playing with a lead allows Knox to slow down and control the game.

A slow, grind-it-out game is where Knox is at their best, particularly on the road, where you can’t let opposing crowds infuse their energy into the game. Three of their last seven are on the road, and every game at this stage in the season matters.

“Before this year, we never could come together as a full team,” Lockett said. “It was a lot of people trying to figure out their own thing. Finally, we’re a full team; we’re trying to make a run to win the conference.”

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