Will basketball find success in 2015 playoffs?


bleacher_talk_by_ryan_trexler

The excitement of the 2015 Division II college basketball playoffs is upon us.

This year, both the men and women’s teams have a shot at grabbing a playoff spot with four games left to play in the regular season.

The women’s team sits at 16-9 on the season, and holds third place in the PSAC East with a 12-7 record. Only Bloomsburg (19-3, 16-2 PSAC East) and West Chester (19-4, 15-4 PSAC East) lead the Lady Raiders.

The men’s team sits at 12-11 with an 8-10 conference record, good for fifth. In DII basketball, only the top four squads in the division move on to the playoffs. The team the Raiders must beat is Millersville, who leads them by one game with a 9-11 division record.

Can both teams make the playoffs? If they do, will they have a shot at a state title?

Your sports editors have run the numbers, and have some expert insight into how far each team will go in regards to the playoffs in 2015. Cale will talk about the women’s team and Dave will discuss the men, giving you an in-depth analysis of each team’s potential.

Dave

bleacher_talk_2_by_ryan_trexler
Photo by Ryan Trexler

The men’s team this year has got to be one of the most improved basketball squads of all time. If there were a title for “Comeback Team of the Year” they would have earned it.

This is a lineup that finished the 2013-14 season with a 3-23 record. They posted an atrocious -10.7 scoring margin, giving up 278 more points than they scored, and by the end of the year the team’s best player by 155 total points, Joe Lococo, had transferred to a different school.

Quite frankly, head coach Chris Fite must have been concerned with his chances at putting together a contending squad in 2014-15, his second year at Shippensburg University.

Less than a year later we are talking about the Raiders making the playoffs.

I actually think they have a shot, but it looks like it is all going to come down to one game.

SU plays three teams in the PSAC East to close out the season, and this week was the team’s hardest test. The team took on Kutztown (16-10, 13-7 PSAC East) this Saturday, and the No. 3 in the division, and lost 67-51.

However, they still have a shot. Shippensburg needs to put its money where its mouth is this Wednesday when the squad travels to Millersville to play for a postseason berth. Millersville lost on Saturday as well, to 8-15 Lock Haven, so SU is definitely still in the mix. If the Raiders beat MU, they almost certainly will make the playoffs; the teams will have each won a game, so the fact that SU beat East Stroudsburg, the No. 1 in the division, earlier in the year means that the Raider squad would make the playoffs in the case of a tie.

Cale

This has truly been a coming of age season for the Red Raiders, as the players have really stepped up and grown into their roles throughout the season. Despite having holes to fill after some key senior players graduated, the team enters Tuesday with a 16-9 record, going 12-7 in PSAC play.

After struggling to find consistency to begin the season, the Red Raiders found themselves with a 7-7 record going in the beginning of January. However, the team was able to find their footing at just the right time and put together a 6 game winning streak, with all the victories coming against PSAC opponents.

Since the streak, the team has gone 3-2, and has three games left to play in the regular season. Yet, no matter the outcome of their final games, the Red Raiders have already clinched the No. 3 seed in the PSAC Championship Tournament. This puts them in great position for the playoffs, where they will have a chance to prove themselves and succeed. The team is deep and talented, and should have a chance to make a deep run in the tournament.

SU has rode its starting five to its postseason play berth, but has had standout performances from its bench players as well. Sophomore Morgan Griffith is averaging a double-double this season, scoring 11.8 points per game and bringing down 10.4 rebounds per game. The team’s sophomore point guard, Lauren Gold, has run the team’s offense all season, leading the team in minutes (765) and assists (107).

Freshman guard Vicky Tumasz has been a solid reserve for the Red Raiders, coming off the bench in all but one game for the team, and still leads the team with 37 three-pointers made. Tumasz even led the team in scoring in an early season win against Dominican, pacing SU with 20 points.

The Red Raiders return to action on Wednesday when they travel to face Millersville. SU won the team’s previous matchup this season, winning 67-55. The team will hope for the same performance in this game and the rest of their season, as they prepare for the playoffs.


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