Tuesday, October 3, 2023

W&M looks to carry consistent effort to home tilts with Delaware

(Courtesy William & Mary)
(Courtesy William & Mary)

The point can be made that William & Mary’s best two performances this season, at least in terms of consistent effort, came last weekend at Hofstra. That the Tribe lost both games doesn’t change that.

Dane Fischer, W&M’s second-year coach, also saw that effort in practice leading up to the weekend.

“From Thursday through Sunday, I thought we had four really good days,” Fischer said. “Two really good days of prep and practice, and two games when we certainly did some good things. There’s a lot we can build on from that.

“I felt like these were the first two games this year where there wasn’t a time or multiple times when we had to talk to the guys about playing with more effort. I thought we were really dialed in defensively in terms of taking away their main guys.”

Fischer hopes that effort continues throughout this week’s practices and into the weekend, when the Tribe (2-5, 0-2 Colonial Athletic Association) hosts Delaware (3-4, 1-1) Saturday and Sunday — both at 2 p.m. Though home-court advantage has a new meaning these days, it’s still important to hold serve in conference games.

Fischer sees the Blue Hens, who split at home against Charleston last weekend, as similar to Hofstra in terms of inside-out strength and experience. Guards Ryan Allen (14.9 points a game) and Kevin Anderson (12.0 ppg) and 6-foot-10 Dylan Painter (10.9 ppg, 8.6 rpg) are seniors.

Anderson played only two minutes in Sunday’s game because of a foot injury. His status for the weekend is unclear.

One thing the Tribe cannot afford is another slow start. That’s been an issue the last four games, all of which have been losses.

Against High Point on Dec. 19, William & Mary fell behind 14-0 in the first 7½ minutes. Three days later, Virginia led the Tribe 17-6 eight minutes in. And last weekend at Hofstra, W&M trailed by 10 points near the 13-minute mark of the first half of each game.

“That’s been a real issue for us,” Fischer said. “We’ve talked about how much practices reflect games, and we’ve had a few practices where we’ve not been ready right from the start. Then we get ourselves there a few minutes in.

“That’s what we focus on a lot in terms of trying to remedy that. It’s really hard to go play well for 40 minutes if you can’t have a full practice at a high level.”

The Tribe has struggled on the offensive end by averaging 65 points a game and shooting 40 percent from the field, 30 percent from the 3-point arc. Mr. Steady has been guard Luke Loewe, who is averaging 18.4 points a game on 49.5-percent shooting from the field. He has only 10 turnovers in 257 minutes.

“The offensive production is what’s easy to see,” Fischer said. “The way he’s leading by example is phenomenal.

“His effort and focus on the defensive end is just incredible. He does so many things to help the team win a game.”

Fischer is pleased with the development of the youth on his roster. Six freshmen or sophomores are among the top nine players in the rotation. Rookie Connor Kochera had 16 points and a career-high seven rebounds in Sunday’s loss at Hofstra.

“What people don’t see is what goes on outside the games,” Fischer said. “They get in the gym a lot and they come in to watch film a lot. They really are trying to improve as players in the time they have outside the games, which is really an encouraging sign.

“They’ve showed some really good signs in the games throughout the season. Now, it’s a matter of becoming more consistent as the season goes forward.”

Dave Johnson is the “Tribe Scribe” for W&M Athletics.

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