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TMC teams are off track

Mustangs men’s and women’s squads struggling as they hit the final stretch

Posted: February 6, 2009 12:56 a.m.
Updated: February 6, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
Down the stretch they come.

Two wounded Mustangs in the final leg of two separate races.

With eight games left in each of their seasons, The Master’s College’s men’s and women’s teams are in danger of missing the NAIA National Tournament.

Flip the calendar page back to this time in January and that wasn’t the case.

On Jan. 6, the men were 11-3 and ranked 20th in the NAIA top 25.

The women were 8-5 and also in the top 25.

Since that point, each team has gone 2-6.

Men’s coach Chuck Martin gave a couple of reasons for the struggles.

“We just have struggled with the ability to bring energy and toughness to playing defense at the level we need to play,” Martin said. “And our struggles making baskets has compounded the defensive problems.”

The Mustangs men (13-9, 5-7) have lost three straight and were blown out in each game.

They currently sit at eighth place in the Golden State Athletic Conference.

Martin thinks three teams from the conference will likely go to the NAIA Tournament — the conference champion, the conference tournament champion and an at-large team.

Six GSAC teams have better overall records than TMC, with three teams being ranked.

Martin said Fresno Pacific, the No. 8 team in the nation, probably won’t be caught at 11-1 in conference.

The quality wins TMC has should help the Mustangs’ cause if they go on a hot streak going into the NAIA Tournament.

TMC defeated two NCAA Division II squads this season and 19th-ranked Concordia.

But going on that run will be a challenge.

The Mustangs still have Fresno Pacific, Concordia, and No. 14 California Baptist still on the schedule.

Compound the fact that junior swingman Dean Hadley has battled a cartilage tear in his right knee, and the odds are more in favor of TMC not making the tournament.

The Mustangs’ last trip was in 2000.

Hadley didn’t play in two one-point losses this season.

On the women’s side, the problem appears to be depth.

Since right before the season started, the Lady Mustangs have lost four players — one to a tracheotomy, one for disciplinary reasons, one to a transfer and another who quit playing basketball.

That has put more pressure on TMC’s foursome of Erica Inge, Amanda Durocher, Stacy Nanninga and Annie Gillespie.

All four are averaging more than 13.2 points per game.

First-year head coach Dan Waldeck said a major problem has been communication.

“I would just say we haven’t had consistent effort and consistent communication,” Waldeck said.  

TMC’s women (10-11, 5-7) have lost five straight games, four of the five by six points or less.

Waldeck said his team will likely have to win six of its final eight games to make the NAIA Tournament.

There are five teams from the GSAC that are in the NAIA top 25.

The Master’s has a chance to get back in the race as four of their next five games are against unranked teams.

The women have made the NAIA Tournament in each of the last four seasons.

cosborne@the-signal.com

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