Basketball Lions hope Fort Hays road trip a cure for continuing ills

Hobie Brown

The claws will be showing tomorrow as the Missouri Southern Lions travel to Western Kansas to engage the Fort Hays State University Tigers in a MIAA catfight.

The Lions came out on top the last time the two met.

“Anytime you play on the road, you have to play good defense,” Robert Corn, men’s basketball head coach.

The Lions’ defense will need to be strong if the team hopes to leave Hays with a win.

“We can’t afford to go over there with the mindset that we are going to outscore them because that’s not going to happen on the road,” Corn said.

Forward Jeff Pruitt has been a dominant force for the Tigers this year and caused problems for the Lions in their last meeting. Guard Anthony Grant, a transfer from Washington State University, scored 22 points against the Lions as well.

The Tigers have not lost more than three home games in a season since the 1992-93 season.

“We out-rebounded them and had a plus-10 turnover ratio last time we played them, and I think that will help tremendously against them,” Corn said.

The Lions were in action Jan. 27 at Truman State University.

The final five minutes proved costly as the Bulldogs handed the Lions their seventh loss in the league.

“We made plays down the stretch, but Truman made more of them,” Corn said.

Deonte Cox, junior forward, put up some numbers, even though he was under the weather.

“Deonte got to a good start,” Corn said. “He got the ball down low, and was able to use his spin move and convert a couple of times. He was playing with the flu, so his minutes were limited. We played him three to four minute spurts, and got him out to keep him rested.”

Cox finished with 20 points, going 9-10 from the floor.

The Lions will come home Wednesday to face Emporia State University.

For Maryann Mitts, the Missouri Southern Lions have fallen on hard times.

“We’re not on the same page right now,” Mitts, women’s basketball head coach, said. “Everybody’s trying to be. It’s just a situation where we are having a difficult time being proficient for 40 minutes, and it’s on both sides of the floor.”

Mitts hopes to use the four-day break time between games to get back to fundamental basketball.

“We have to start feeling comfortable in our offensive system,” she said. “We have been breaking our plays too early and playing one-on-one basketball instead of systematic basketball.”

The Lions look to improve their playoff potential as they take on the Fort Hays State University Tigers tomorrow afternoon. The first meeting between the two saw the Tigers hand the Lions their third consecutive loss 86-69 behind a 28-point performance from the Tigers forward Ashlee Gustin.

“Gustin was an all-conference player in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference last year,” Mitts said. “I’m not sure we gave her the respect she deserved last time.”

With forward Dana-Mae Robbs out with an injury at the time, the Tigers’ zone defense caused the Lions fits.

“I think the players believe the game was one that just got away,” Mitts said.

With the ups and downs of the playoff chase, the mindset of the team is not in question.

“The frustrating thing for the entire team is that this is not an issue of talent, or lack of talent,” Mitts said. “The problem we are running into in the mindset of the players is that talent alone does not win games.

“I think our team knows there’s a lot of basketball left, and there is a small gap between who comes out fifth and who comes out eight. We still have a chance to make this a respectable season and to have every player but Dana Mae return next year.”

Performances from guard India Wood, guard Danielle DeVader and Robbs weren’t enough Jan. 27 as the Lions shot 36.8-percent against Truman State Bulldogs and fell at the end 71-55.

“I thought we played a very competitive first half against Truman, a team on a two game winning streak, who’s playing really good basketball,” Mitts said.

Still recovering from a hand surgery, Robbs has played with determination since her return.

“I think what has elevated Dana Mae’s game is she has had to slow down and focus,” Mitts said. “When she was healthy, she would get in trouble when she was going to fast. Now she is settling down and has a lot more focus. Plus she has the realization that there’s eight more games left.”