The Blazers (8-9) finally end their 5-game cold streak with a win over Carver Bible College 88-80 Tuesday night.
The Blazers men’s basketball team has nine games remaining in their season and are forced to “play behind the eight ball” more than ever.
This phrase more commonly associated with the game of billiards, was used by Head Coach Mike Helfner to describe the difficult situation him and his team are in and their upcoming schedule.
The VSU Blazers sit at 8-9 on the year after snapping a five-game losing streak against Carver Bible Tuesday night in the Complex.
The recent victory might be what the Blazers need to revive them from what has become a very frustrating season so far.
“We have to play catch up a lot and figure out our identity, who we are and what we are,” Helfner said. “I don’t think our guys really truly understand that right now so we got to figure that out.”
Out of all the games left on VSU’s schedule, only one of them isn’t against a GSC team, meaning this last stretch can be a great opportunity to end the season with their heads held high.
Nevertheless, it will be anything but easy.
“I definitely think there are important games coming up,” Helfner said. “What we just got to realize is that we got to try to play better. Play for 40 minutes and do that against good teams. If we don’t were going to get beat.”
The Blazers next test will come at the hands of the West Florida Argonauts (13-7).
Next week, they face the top teams in the conference, the Division II No. 11 ranked Christian Brothers (14-3) and No. 15 Alabama-Huntsville (14-3).
VSU played both of those teams already this season and both resulted in losses.
VSU forward Josh Sparks agrees that team chemistry plays a factor, especially against the better teams.
“They have all been playing together for so long and that is something we lack,” Sparks said. “We’re coming together as each game goes on so hopefully we can start a streak.”
Junior transfer Michael Panaggio thinks although the win was unimpressive it might be just what they need to spark a sense of urgency so they can come out victorious and prove why they should be mentioned as one of the best in the GSC.
“Every game in conference is important so if we can get a few [wins] under our belt it would be good to carry over, “Panaggio said. “It’s a good feeling to snap that streak, but at the same time, in conference play, we’re still in a hole.”
The Blazers are currently 1-5 in conference play thanks to that losing skid that encompassed GSC teams in all five games.
Senior guard Tristan Steele, who leads the team in three pointers (32), is out with a “significant” shoulder injury and the Blazers could desperately use his assistance next week.
He hasn’t been cleared to play and has no timetable for when he will be returning.
“It’s been hard because we’ve had so many different lineups and different guys in and out,” Helfner said. “We just got to find a way to get better on the daily basis.”
Tip-off for the West Florida game will be at 8 p.m. Saturday night in The Complex.