Despite recent losses, Owls feel poised to make LEC tournament run

If you talked with Keene State College Men’s Basketball Coach, Rob Colbert, almost a month ago, he would tell you he was disappointed with the team’s play.

However, that is not the case anymore, as the team’s play has picked up considerably over the last three games.

The Owls have not had the results they wanted. They lost three very close games to Rhode Island College, Middlebury College and Eastern Connecticut State.

What the Owls have taken away from these games is a positive energy. “There’s a feeling of momentum going in terms of our execution and our effort. Unfortunately, it hasn’t resulted in a ton of W’s [wins] but from the approach standpoint I really like where we’re headed,” Colbert said.

One main reason for the team’s improved play is the team’s post play.

Brian Cantore / Photo Editor: Sophomore center Nate Howard blows by a defender in a recent home win over the University of Massachusetts Boston on Saturday, January 25.

Brian Cantore / Photo Editor:
Sophomore center Nate Howard blows by a defender in a recent home win over the University of Massachusetts Boston on Saturday, January 25.

“I think our post play has been really solid between Nate [Howard] and Jaquel [Edwards]. They have dominated the post categories in terms of rebounding and scoring,” Colbert said. The team’s starting center Nate Howard is averaging 13.7 points per game and 11 rebounds per game as of Feb. 17.

In addition, starting power forward Jaquel Edwards, as of Feb. 17, is averaging 8.9 points per game and is rebounding the ball at a clip of 7.1 rebounds per game.

Also, Colbert attributed the Owl’s success to the team’s depth.

“We really have a good level of depth that perhaps we didn’t have early,” Colbert said.

The players are very upbeat about their most recent stretch of games that resulted in losses.

Sophomore guard Tre Tipton said, “I think we’ve played our best stretch of games this past month.”

Tipton has also noticed how the Owls are finally starting to gel as a team.

“We’ve started to put the pieces together. We just have to complete the puzzle,” Tipton said.

Edwards agreed with Tipton.

“I think we are finally jelling as a team. We have a lot of freshmen and now we are getting into it,” Edwards said.

An aspect of the game the Owls need a little work in is the mental side.

“I think our ability to stay mentally focused when things get stressful, whether it be a tight game or a big swing—our ability to stay mentally focused is definitely something we need to continue to work on,” Colbert said.

Colbert said the Owls have struggled, at times, to play two full halves. “It’s been a ‘tale of two cities’ between the first half and second half in a lot of big games,” according to Colbert.

Freshman forward Jeff Lunn said he sees the inconsistency as something the Owls are getting better at as the season moves on.

“We have one good half and then the second half is not as good. As the season is starting to get further in we are starting to get a lot better at that,” Lunn said.

Third-year veteran and junior guard Tom Doyle said the team is improving.

“You can see we are getting better. That’s the best part. If we keep getting better, hopefully in the tournament we’ll win those games,” Doyle explained.

The Owls have struggled on the road more when compared to games at the Spaulding Gym.

The Owls are 6-6 at Spaulding and just 1-8 on the road. Colbert does not think much of the road record.

“We’ve played a really tough schedule and a lot of those games so far have been on the road. I don’t really have something that I’d pinpoint it to,” Colbert said.

Colbert also said a home game for the first round of the LEC tournament is not a must.

“It would be nice, but is not our season goal, but that would definitely be nice. It would definitely improve our chances of winning if you’re playing the numbers,” Colbert said.

Many players cannot figure out why they’re not finding success on the road.

“I can’t really put it in words. We play hard every game, it just seems like on the road we struggle,” Lunn said.

“I really don’t know, maybe because it is away. It makes a little difference. [At home] we practice here everyday,” Doyle said.

With the level of play right now, the coaching staff is hoping that the Owls can close out the season with a bang.

“I think a strong finish is important. We’ve been going since October first. The finish is a summary of the work you’ve done this year,” Colbert said.

The Owls remain confident as the season winds down.

As of press time, the Owls are 7-15 overall and 4-8 against the Little Eastern Conference, which puts them in sixth place in the conference.

Some players, like Tipton, even feel that they could potentially upset a higher-seeded team in the conference tournament.

“Everybody on the team is feeling real confident that we can actually do this. We could be the most dangerous team in the league,” Tipton said.


Brian Clemmenson can be contacted at

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