Eshel-Mania: Men's basketball team is facing challenges

By Aaron Eshelman, Staff Writer

The Newman men’s basketball team, to put it nicely, has not had the season it hoped for.

The Jets had a stellar 20-9 campaign in 2018-2019 in which they arguably should have received an NCAA tournament at-large bid. They started out this season right where they left off, winning four of their first five contests, but things quickly derailed from there.

Newman has lost five games in a row and nine of its last 10 games for a record of 8-16.

Lots of excitement surrounded the Jets heading into a season in which they returned two of their top scorers in Marshawn Blackmon and Jawaun Davenport as well as starting center DeAndre Johnson. The Jets also added promising newcomers such as forwards David Javorski and Kaleb Allison and Guard Omar Boone.

However, when Johnson went down with a season-ending knee injury just four games into the year, it left a huge hole in the middle of the Jets’ offense.

Newman has also missed Johnson’s presence on the glass as he averaged 7.3 rebounds per game before his injury. Kaleb Allison has replaced much of Johnson’s scoring from the center position but hasn’t contributed nearly as much in the rebounding column.

Newman has also had issues turning the ball over and are now ranked 257th out of 303 NCAA Division II schools in turnovers per game.

The Jets’ next game is in Edmond against the Bronchos of Central Oklahoma.

In the first matchup this season, Newman couldn’t hold onto a nine-point halftime lead. UCO’s Dashon Bell, who was just 2-10 from the field on the night, hit a buzzer beater to beat the Jets 68-66 in heartbreak fashion at Fugate Gymnasium.

To beat UCO this time around, Newman will have to crash the glass as they were out rebounded 33-24 in the first game.

The Jets should also look to be more physical on offense and get to the free throw line more against the Bronchos, who had 11 more attempts from the stripe in the first matchup.

This is an area the Jets have excelled in so far, as Newman has shot the second most free throws in the MIAA this season.

PHOTO: Courtesy Photo, Newman Advancement