By Devon Jeffreys
The season hasn’t opened the way coach Bo Clark and the Flagler men’s basketball team would have hoped.
The Saints opened the season on Nov. 16 against Northwood University. The game was only the second in the history of Northwood basketball, but this wasn’t a normal first year squad.
Under the direction of NCAA great Rollie Massimino, the Northwood Seahawks had several players on their team that, according to Clark, were NCAA Div. I-type players. Flagler was overmatched and fell by a score of 94-81.
In the first half, the Saints committed a plethora of turnovers to fall into an early hole.
“I thought we came out nervous, which is kind of expected with the first game of the year,” Clark said. “Their pressure bothered us in the first five minutes of the game.”
Northwood was able to take a 14-6 lead early, but Flagler battled back to tie the game at 18. The game remained close throughout the first half with Northwood holding a 48-41 lead going into the locker room.
“I thought in general their athletic ability both inside and outside hurt us,” Clark said.
In the second half, the Seahawks came out strong and a 14-2 run in the middle of the half put the game away. The Saints struggled in places where their game is usually at its best. They shot just 3-14 from three-point range, one of the biggest parts of their game. Northwood also out rebounded Flagler 40-31.
“I think we have to shoot the basketball better,” Clark said. “Offensively I thought we needed to execute a little more and just be stronger with the ball. To beat a team like Northwood we have to rebound a lot better too.”
Sophomore center Ben De La Cruz had 17 points on 7-10 shooting for the Saints.
“We need to just take care of the ball,” De La Cruz said. “We need to rebound a lot better than we did and just shoot better from the field, three for 14 from three, that’s a big part of our offense, that inside outside game.
On Nov. 18, the Saints went to Winter Park to take on Rollins College. Again the Saints seemed over matched by the No. 5 team in NCAA Div. II. Rollins came out strong and although Flagler hung with them most of the game, even cutting the deficit to one in the middle of the second half, it wasn’t enough. The Saints would fall, 95-81 and are now 0-2 for the season.
Senior forward Sam Jozenville led the Saints, recording a double double with 25 points and 11 rebounds. Junior forward Bryan Borstelmann had 22 points, racking up six three pointers. De La Cruz also had a double double, with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
The season doesn’t get any easier for the Saints. They’ll host Saint Leo and Webber International next week and then Embry-Riddle comes to town after Thanksgiving. The game will be the only one between the heated rivals this season. Riddle remains the favorite to win the Florida Sun Conference this season, although Northwood may give them a run for it.
“Our schedule is really tough. There’s not a lot of easy games on the schedule,” Clark said.
“It’s going to be a long road for us,” De La Cruz said. “If the guys stay together, play as a team, move the ball around, we should be fine.”