By John Rohlf – Staff Writer
The St. Ambrose men’s basketball team is well into their regular season schedule, and if the first 20 games are any indication, it should be a fun ending to their season.
After a disappointing season last year ending with a record below .500, the Fighting Bees look to have put that season in the rear-view mirror. The Bees currently sit at 15-6 on the season. They played a variety of teams in the non-conference portion of schedule, which Head Coach Ray Shovlain thinks helped prepare them for the conference schedule.
“We played a wide range of teams and styles,” Shovlain said. “The vast majority of our conference schedule was against ranked, quality opponents that provided us different opportunities and different styles. I think that will help get us prepared for the conference race.”
One of the strengths of this team is the depth they carry into each game. They consistently play around 12 to 14 players in a game, which is a huge advantage.
“I think one strong attribute of this particular team is how deep we are,” Shovlain said. “We really feel like we can play 12, 13, 14 players that would do a fine job in a given situation.”
The Fighting Bees have carried over their early season success to the conference season. They currently sit at 4-1 in the Midwest Collegiate Conference. Their only conference loss was a home loss against Mount Mercy in the first conference game of the season. The Bees were able to remain competitive despite being without the full compliment of their players. Since this setback, they have won their last four conference games.
As nice as it has been for the Bees to start off the year strong, the home stretch of the season is the most important part of their schedule. With many teams in the MCC jockeying for position for seeding in the MCC tournament, each and every game is crucial for the Bees.
“If you win as many road conference games as possible, whether it be one point in overtime or whatever, it will make a significant difference where you are at in the conference race at the end of the season,” Shovlain said. “Everyone wins the majority of games at home. It just comes down to who’s going to be able to win a significant number of road games.”