Wildcats win season opener
Season-opening games can often feature a high number of turnovers and fouls, but Saturday's game at Baker University took that to a new level.
Baker and Ottawa University men's basketball teams combined for 49 personal fouls and 30 turnovers in the Saturday afternoon game.
"It was kind of a foul-plagued game," Baker coach Rick Weaver said. "There were 49 total fouls. We tried to play up-tempo and play a lot of guys. Depth helped us, because we had five guys with two fouls in the first half."
The Wildcats won the game 85-79 to start the season 1-0.
Weaver credits much of the sloppy, foul-played game to the Wildcats not playing any preseason scrimmages. Baker will be playing Emporia State University and Fort Hays State University in exhibition games later in the month.
"I thought we played really hard," Weaver said. "I thought we made a few mistakes. Some were first game jitters, because we didn't have any scrimmages before the season. That might have caused a few mistakes, but at the same time we are looking forward to playing those two people."
Both teams battled back and forth during the first half, until Baker took a small lead later in the half. The Wildcats went into halftime leading 43-33.
Baker maintained its lead throughout the second half, despite only making two of 10 three-pointers. However, the Wildcats did knock down 16 of 17 free throws during the half to seal the victory.
For the game, Baker made 24 of 28 free throws and nine of 19 threes.
Weaver was very pleased with the attendance Saturday, since the game time was changed from 7:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. because the Baker volleyball team was hosting a conference tournament match that night.
"It was a good win," Weaver said. "I was surprised at the size of the crowd for a Saturday afternoon. We had late switch of the game time, but we had a good-sized crowd."
Senior Greg Allen led Baker with 22 points, while fellow senior Nate Pedrow posted a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Two other Wildcats scored in double digits. Junior Andy Hannon totaled 14 points and senior Marc Roberts added 12.
"I thought Greg Allen was a key for us, because he had six threes," Weaver said. "Andy Hannon and him played well offensively. Nate Pedrow played well down the stretch."
On Tuesday, Baker traveled to the University of Saint Mary to play its second game of the year. Baker came away victorious, as it won the game 87-71.
"It was a game of spurts," Weaver said. "We finished well down the stretch. It was a competitive game and a good win on the road."
The Wildcats return many players from last year, which has made the early season practices easier. They are also playing a faster-paced game this year, because of the athletic ability of the players.
"We are quicker than we have been in the past, especially inside," Weaver said. "All of our big guys can run. The guys we've added like to play up-tempo, so we are trying to play more up-tempo. It's going to result in a few more mistakes and turnovers, but we think we are deep enough to get after people and extend the floor on defense. That's the plan, so hopefully it works once in a while."
Baker will begin a road trip now that will last until late November.
"We've got about eight or nine on the road now," Weaver said. "You have to try and win a home game when you have the chance. I think our next home game is Nov. 28."
The Wildcats next play in the McPherson Classic on Friday and Saturday. Then they travel to Ottawa to play the Braves at 7:30 p.m. Monday. After those games, Baker will play five straight road games, two of which are exhibition contests.
"It's going to be tough," Weaver said of the schedule. "It's brutal, but hopefully we can survive. It's going to be brutal. We've got an experienced group and they are a competitive bunch, but I think we will be really tested in the next two or three weeks. It's going to be tough."