The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

January 5, 2013

Changes on the way for Vikes

BY CHAD DARE
Commercial-News

DECATUR — Danville first-year basketball coach Ted Houpt has seen enough.

Changes are on the horizon for his Vikings after they suffered their eighth-straight loss on Friday night.

Decatur MacArthur, behind a game-high 18 points from junior Marcus Bartley, defeated Danville 60-51 in a Big 12 Conference boys basketball game.

“We need to go in a different direction,” Houpt said. “We have to try some different combinations.”

And junior guard Marcus Merriweather, who has started the majority of the Vikings games this season, acknowledges it’s something that has to happen.

“I think we need to be playing the people that are going to play hard all of the time,” said Merriweather, who had a team-high 14 points, nine of those coming during Danville’s 25 point fourth quarter.

The Vikings, who fell to 2-12 overall and 1-6 in the league, went scoreless for almost a full eight minutes against the Generals.

During that stretch, MacArthur (8-7, 3-4) turned a one-point lead (17-16) midway through the second quarter into a 38-17 advantage with just 11 minutes left in the contest.

“For the most part, no we didn’t have good effort,” Houpt said. “I think we had a decent effort to start, that we lost it. When we went with the second group, they gave us a good effort in the second half.”

And while that might be a positive for some teams, Houpt said Danville is too far into the season to be looking for a silver lining.

“There is a lot of work that needs to be done,” he said. “We all need to take responsibility here. I have to put them in some different situations and they have execute our game plan and they have to run the offense.”

During that nearly eight-minute scoreless stretch, the Vikings missed 10 shots and committed six turnovers.

“I can’t made adjustments and I can’t figure out what is wrong if we don’t run an effective offense,” Houpt said.

And compounding the Vikings problems during their offensive drought was Danville’s inability to keep MacArthur guard Reggie Anderson from driving into the lane.

Anderson, who had 16 points in the contest, scored six during the Generals 20-0 run to go along with a pair of assists.

“They got a layup and it was like the Red Sea opened,” Houpt said. “They kept getting the layups. There is no excuse for that. The guards can’t get beat that easily and if they do, the big guys need to step up.

“We are jumping and swinging. We have too many bad habits, it’s been killing us.”

After falling behind by 21 points in the third quarter, Danville turned to a full-court press in the final eight minutes and the result was a 25-point fourth quarter as the Vikings forced the Generals into four turnovers.

“Defensively, we were pretty effective with the press at the end of the game,” Houpt said. “We had a sense of urgency, so maybe we need to start the game like that.”

Merriweather admitted the team turned up its intensity.

“We didn’t want to get beat so badly,” he said.

But, why did it take falling behind by 21 points for them to play with that kind of intensity?

“I don’t know,” Merriweather admitted. “I think it’s going to take some of us getting benched when we don’t play hard to change that.

“That’s what coach says he is going to do and hopefully, we get this thing turned around.”

Houpt admits that losing is difficult on everyone.

“It’s not easy for the players or the coaches,” he said. “We can’t hide from it. We are disappointed, but we shouldn’t be ashamed. We are staying together and we will keep trying.

“It’s the responsibility of everyone on this team to get this turned around.”

The next opportunity for the Vikings to snap their eight-game losing streak will come next Friday when Danville plays at Normal West.

The sophomore contest against MacArthur was similar to the varsity game. Danville trailed by nearly 30 points before rallying in the fourth quarter. The Generals held on for a 62-56 victory over the Vikings.

Kemony Lucas and Aubrey Duncan shared team-high scoring honors with 17 points each, while Anthony Thomas chipped in with 11.