Defensive struggles continue as Jackets fall to 0-4

The first four games for Waynesburg University’s men’s basketball team are ones that they will want to forget. Saturday, Nov. 23, the Yellow Jackets lost their fourth straight game to begin the season against Kenyon, 81-60.

Defense has been the primary focus of the Tim Fusina era thus far, and the first-year head coach wasn’t pleased with how his team defended Saturday. 

“I don’t think that we defended to our capabilities,” Fusina said. “They scored on their first six or seven possessions and that put us in a hole. We didn’t defend to our standards for the program.”

Star shooting guard,  Matt Popeck was not in action for the second straight game due to having an MRI Friday. The results of the MRI have not been announced.

“Hopefully we get a good result on that and he is back soon,” Fusina said.

Waynesburg’s leading scorers were sophomore Isaiah Alonzo [23 points] and Brennan Smith [12]. Freshman Ryan Felberg also got a lot of playing time [26 minutes] and finished with three  points which all came from free throws.

“Offensively we did a nice job,” Fusina said. “Brennan Smith and Isiah Alonzo played off each other very well. We were also able to get Ryan Felberg some nice touches. I thought that he was very good on defense too against their best player.”

Alonzo was a perfect 10-10 from the free throw line. He also had five rebounds, an assist and a steal to go along with 23 points. That’s a career high for Alonzo in a Yellow Jacket uniform. As for Smith, he finished with four assists, three rebounds and one steal. Smith is averaging 17.5 points per game.

“I thought Isaiah and Brennan did well,” Fusina said. “It was the first time this year that Isiah had a lot of post plays and got to the line a lot. I though he played very well. Brennan played 39 minutes he defended and rebounded very well. I was happy with how those two played.”

Kenyon had a total of five players score in double figures. As a team Kenyon shot 49.2% from the field and 52.9% from beyond the 3-point line. These numbers are not ones Fusina wants to see. 

“To defend, we are trying to instill that mentality into those guys every day,” Fusina said. “I expect it to improve, but we aren’t seeing the result right now. We need to keep moving forward defensively.”

In the four games that Waynesburg has played, it has trailed for the majority of them. Fusina says two factors have contributed greatly to this. 

“Defensive commitment and being ready to play at the start,” Fusina said. “We have had some slow starts. Three out of the four games we have started out poorly on the offensive end.”

Waynesburg’s next game is Tuesday at home against Otterbein. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. The team is still searching for its first win under Fusina’s command. The Jackets haven’t been 0-4 since the 2015-16 season, when they started 0-6. 

“We have to keep defending and keep getting better,” Fusina said. “We need to understand the game plan and the results will take care of the system. We need to buy in and I think we are making progress. It’s just taking a bit longer.”