When the Moline boys' basketball team trudged into the Christmas break on a five-game losing streak, the positive vibes were nonexistent.|
"We didn't have confidence much at all," Moline senior guard Jed Wood said. "We weren't playing very well, and we weren't knocking down shots."
Three weeks later, the Maroons are a different story.
"We've been playing so much better," Wood said. "We think we can contend with anybody right now."
Wins tend to do that to teams. In Moline's case, it provided the confidence it lacked when the season started.
An offseason featuring a coaching change combined with an inexperienced roster meant expectations were minimal at best. A 3-6 start and winless Western Big 6 Conference opening stretch provided credibility to the thoughts Moline simply would not have success this year.
"But you never go into a season thinking that way," first-year Moline coach Jeff Schimmel said. "We expect a lot, especially with the tradition of Moline basketball. Expectations are high here."
Schimmel said that the only expectations that mattered were from those on the court inside Wharton Field House. Most counted out Moline even before the season started, saying this team could not get it done.
One week into the new year, the Maroons are 8-7 and in the midst of a run that provides much-needed confidence.
Since snapping that losing streak in its DeKalb Holiday Tournament opener, Moline has won five of its last six games. Three of those five wins were decided by double digits.
"They're figuring out things now," Schimmel said.
More importantly, they are figuring out how it takes to win.
Inexperience showed during that five-game losing streak. Moline lost two of those games by five points or less, displaying the inability to finish games.
A winning touch the team now possesses has fixed those issues.
Schimmel says it has to do with the Maroons getting back to basics, doing "the simple stuff that gets overlooked." All that translates into a record above .500 halfway through the season.
"We're making progress," Schimmel said. "Yeah, our record could be better and it could be worse. The kids are still playing for each other and fighting for pride in this program."
The tenacity is evident. In their 47-30 win at Freeport last Saturday, the Maroons lost a double-digit first-half lead with spotty play before they played their best when it mattered most. The second half proved to be a microcosm of their winning ways.
Shots were falling more consistently.
Play was improved.
A victory was earned.
In the last six games, those appear to be the Maroons' defining traits.
"We want to put a product on the floor that's going to compete every night," Schimmel said. "For the most part, we've been competitive."
Plus, they have been successful in recent weeks.
The next step is using the renewed confidence to continue this run. It starts tonight when Moline travels to Rock Island as WB6 play resumes.Entering tonight, the Maroons are the lone winless team in the league.
"We're going to play our hearts out on the court," Wood said.
Effort never was an issue with this team. The main problem was confidence.
Right now, Moline has it.
"We all have a lot more confidence," Wood said. "Having that confidence and knowing we can win gives us all a big morale boost."
The results back that up.
Metro boys' basketball writer Daniel Makarewicz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @danmak57
Big 6 boys' standings
School W-L Conf.
Quincy 11-2 3-0
Rock Island 12-3 2-1
Galesburg 10-8 2-1
Alleman 5-8 1-2
UTHS 3-13 1-2
Moline 8-7 0-3
Tonight's games (all 7:30)
Alleman at Quincy
Moline at Rock Island
United Township at Galesburg
Milan, IL Details
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