Phoenix hopes to rebound after slow start
Russel Varner / Reporter
It’s amazing how one stretch of a game can define a
team’s season. While playing against the University of
Pennsylvania Quakers, the Phoenix played stifling defense,
stole the ball and passed it up to senior Chris Chalko for
the wide open dunk. But, just before he could slam the ball
in with authority, the referees blew the whistle and called a
traveling violation on Chalko.
This is the story of the season so far for the men’s
basketball team: sometimes playing great and sometimes very
sloppy. The team struggled in its early out of conference
schedule that included road games against national powers
Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt and Notre Dame. Having
a relatively inexperienced team does not help either, but
this is not a team that likes to make excuses.
“I’m disappointed at the season so far.
We’ve played many close games this year and
haven’t been able to secure more victories, which is
obviously the goal of any team,” coach Ernie Nestor
said, who is in his fourth season as head coach of the
Phoenix. “You always want to win more games and we have
been unable to do that this year for a few different
These reasons include inconsistency and
injuries—namely the loss of senior leader Montell
Watson, who is out for the year with a lower leg injury. The
injury is a big loss because the Phoenix not only loses his
points and driving ability, but his leadership and spirit as
To say this season has been a disappointment is an
understatement.. Coming off arguably Elon’s best season
ever, many people had high expectations for the Phoenix, and
with a 4-12 record (2-4 in the conference), they have not
been able to live up to the hype (though the past four losses
have all been by four points or less). So why has the team
played so streaky and inconsistent this season? Coach Nestor
believes he knows a few reasons why.
“First off, we turn the ball over too many times,
though we have cut down on them recently,” Nestor said.
“But we still turn the ball over at the wrong times.
Also, we need to improve our defensive rebounding and limit
our opponents’ shots. We are not a great shooting team,
so we need to take a lot of shots, and it’s hard to do
that when our opponents get so many chances. Finally, we have
been unable to handle the pressure this year and we have to
learn how to do that. This has made it real difficult for the
players to gain confidence and chemistry since we have to
switch up our lineup so much because of
Many of the players have also noticed this and are growing
tired of the close losses.
“We don’t win, so we can’t be
satisfied,” senior LeVonn Jordan said. “Our
margin of error is slim to none and we really need to start
limiting our mistakes. We’ve been too sloppy with the
ball all year. All those 1, 2, 3 point losses- limit
turnovers and we win those games.”
Sophomore Brett James believes the problem is in their
ability to play a full game. “We can’t play a
full game. We’ll play well for five or six minutes,
then have two or three straight turnovers.”
“We’ve been forced to put a big burden and some
of the weight of the team on them. It’s a big challenge
to adjust from high school to college,” Nestor said.
“They were thrown into the fire and lost some
confidence at first, but now they are starting to bounce
Even though the team has had a very slow start this season,
that doesn’t mean they are done. Remember, last season
the Phoenix started 2-9 before finishing the season 15-14 and
winning the North Division title in the Southern
If the Phoenix can take its weaknesses, such as their defensive rebounding, inside offensive game and ball control, and turn them into their strengths, they can turn their season around and finish the year with their heads held high.