A basketball coach never knows whether a technical foul is going to be a terrific motivator or a troubling hindrance.|
For the Alleman Pioneers in their Quad-Cities/Wheaton Shootout opener against Wheaton St. Francis at Wharton Field House on Saturday, the one on Coach Pat Rangel played to the Spartans' advantage.
Instead of Alleman getting the ball out of bounds with a chance to cut a deficit to four, St. Francis cashed in, going on a 15-6 tear en route to a 57-39 victory.
Not that there could be any blame attributed to Rangel, since he wasn't exactly sure why he was whistled for the "T."
After an out-of-bounds call was made near midcourt, Rangel said to the ref, "If you don't know what to call, don't call it." Those words followed the official looking for help from the other side of the court where his cohort in stripes shrugged his shoulders, and then the ref gave possession to St. Francis.
"There are times when I might try to get a technical to fire up my team, but I can't say that this was one of those strategic technicals," said Rangel. "I can't honestly say that was one of them. I don't even know why I got the 'T.' Maybe he thought I was talking too loud, but he was on the other end of the court."
The timing of the technical, with 1:30 left in the third quarter, was impeccably advantageous for the Spartans. The Alleman offense, which had shot over 50 percent through three quarters, went into a funk, hitting just 1-of-10 in the fourth.
St. Francis (15-3) hit 5-of-7 field goals to open the fourth in pulling out to a 50-35 lead.
More of an issue, though, for the Pioneers (6-14) was identifying the Spartan outside shooters. Andrew Kimball hit 6-of-11 3-pointers for a game-high 18 points. Over half of St. Francis' points came beyond the arc.
"They moved the ball around, but we were prepared for that," said Rangel. "The problem was that we were not able to close out on them quick enough from the top of the zone and that made it hard to react.
"We had a number of things that we are optimistic about," among them the strong rebounding of Alec Diab with a dozen boards and the outside shooting of Kevin O'Keeffe, who led Alleman with 14 points. Adam Hoogerwerf had another nice all-around performance, with 12 points and two of Alleman's four assists.
Alleman will need that a lot more in February as the Pioneers face the prospect of starters Dan Cutcomp (foot) and John Tracey (shins) not returning to the lineup. "It's looking unlikely," Rangel said, noting that Alleman's other sidelined starter, Joey Mihm, should return next week after batting flu-like symptoms this week and thus missing key practice time.
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