Cards in second place tie
February 22, 2010 —
There isn’t a statistic for hard work.
If head coach Frankie Smith had his way, there would be.
The Cardinals defeated Ferris State 68-66 before losing to Grand Valley 66-53. Smith was pleased with the way his team competed in both games.
“We trailed in a lot of areas as far as rebounds and things like that against Ferris,” Smith said. “What we didn’t trail in was hard work and that won us the game.”
Neither team led by more than six points throughout. Ferris State led 28-22 with 2:46 to play in the first half.
A lay-up by sophomore guard Greg Foster followed by four consecutive points by junior forward Dan Genther cut the deficit to 32-30 at the half.
Junior forward Keithan Jackson, who came off the bench due to lineup changes by Ferris State, scored 10 points and had four rebounds. On a night where nothing seemed to favor the Cardinals, Jackson was pleased the Cardinals were able to edge out the victory.
“It was a dogfight,” Jackson said. “We never gave up, and that helped us get the win.”
SVSU converted on 7-22 three-point attempts while Ferris made only 2-21. Smith believes that was the big difference.
“Our defense didn’t give them very many looks,” Smith said. “The shots they took were all contested. It’s hard to make a shot with someone in your face.”
The Cardinals shot 50 percent from the free throw line, something Smith knows needs improvement.
“I don’t know if I have to bring in some psychologist to get in these guys heads to help them out or what,” Smith joked.
Jackson echoed similar remarks: “We hear about it everyday from coach. He makes us practice them all the time.”
Against Grand Valley, the Lakers got off to a quick start and never looked back. They led by as many as 11 points in the first half although SVSU cut the deficit to eight at the half.
In the second half, the Cardinals came out of the locker room on a 10-4 run after a dunk by Foster to get within 36-34.
From there, the Lakers began applying a half-court press that gave the Cardinals problems.
“We were just making bad decisions,” Smith said. “We have practiced the press before but we didn’t execute it.”
Senior guard Avery Stephenson, playing in his final regular season game at the Ryder Center, scored nine points. With 5.4 seconds remaining, Smith called a timeout to take Stephenson out for the final time.
“I told him ‘thanks for everything,’” Smith said. “He’s been here for four years and has been through a lot. He’s been a big part of our turnaround.”
Foster finished with 18 points on 7-11 shooting from the field. In the end, the Cardinals inability to hit open shots proved costly.
“As a coach, you know there are going to be games that you can’t buy a basket,” Smith said. “This was one of those games.”
The Cardinals had only 11 turnovers for the game, although they had a big impact on the outcome.
“When we turned it over, the majority of them were short of the free throw line,” Smith said. “When you turn it over in that area, it’s nearly impossible to have any transition defense.”
With the split, the Cardinals record is 15-10 overall, 12-8 in the GLIAC. They are tied with Ferris State for second place in the GLIAC, trailing Grand Valley by three games.
The possibility of hosting a GLIAC tournament game has Smith excited.
“It’s something that has never happened in school history. If we’re able to do that, it would show how much we have improved in the last couple of seasons."
With the split, the Cardinals have two regular season games remaining. SVSU travels to Northern Michigan for a 7:30 p.m. start Thursday. They close out the regular season Saturday against Michigan Tech at 3 p.m.
Smith is taking extra precaution against the two opponents who are near the bottom of the GLIAC standings.
“They have each beaten Grand Valley this year,” Smith said. “When we played them earlier this season the games were close. We know its going to be a fight.”