Men’s basketball looks to improve consistency to help break rough start to 2016

Jan. 25, 2016

Taylor Garcia
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Jonathan Toman
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Free throws are some of the most highly criticized shots in basketball because they are, well, “free.” So when professional players like Shaquille O’Neal or even Division II athletes can’t make them, it is an easy stat to point out.

For the men’s basketball team (9-9, 6-5 RMAC), those free shots have been a mirror of the team’s success since coming back from winter break.

In 2016, the team is 2-4 entering play on Jan. 22. In the two wins, the team averaged 75 percent from the free throw line.

In the four defeats, the Mountain Lions averaged 71 percent. That includes 61 percent in a four point loss to Westminster College, when UCCS missed 17 free throws.

“Everyone comes in to shoot extra free throws because we have lost close games because of that reason,” said Jay Crawford, redshirt freshman guard.

For the season, the team has shot 67 percent from the line. But for head coach Jeff Culver, it’s more about uneven team play.

“Our free throws are up and down, but the play is inconsistent overall,” he said.

The Mountain Lions have been scoring lots of points – 93, 86, 84 and 81 in the past four games, but so have their opponents, who scored 97,82, 90 and 73.

Culver remains positive about this season.

“We realized we’re good enough to beat anyone in the conference and anyone in the conference is good enough to beat us on any given night. We just need to bring attention and focus to every detail of every game,” he said.

Blackout Weekend Jan. 29-30 is the next time the Mountain Lions are at home, when they take on Western New Mexico and then New Mexico Highlands. Both games tip-off at 7:30 p.m. and are in the Gallogly Events Center.

“Right now the season is a grind and we are getting to a point where we can either sink or swim,” said Crawford. “We know how important the rest of conference play is for us to make a run.”