Team depth, a powerful inside game and veteran guards have helped the men’s basketball team start the season 6-0.

UR has dominated its opponents on the inside, outrebounding them 224-168. UR has outscored its opponents 250-130 in the paint and scored 33 more points on second chances, 86-53, than its opponents.

UR’s bench has outscored its opponents benches 211-94. That depth has allowed UR to tire out its opponents and outscore them 270-210 after halftime.

“Depth is real important for us,” sophomore forward Brian Jones said. “Coach [Mike] Neer likes the fact he can make subs and there is little or no dropoff in the play of our team.”

Junior guard Jeff Joss leads the team with 12 points per game. Freshman forward Seth Hauben is averaging 11.8 points per game and leads the team with 7.5 rebounds per game and eight blocks. Jones is averaging 10.8 points per game.

“We’re certainly where I hoped we would be and thought that we could be,” Neer said. “Nothing has surprised me at this point.”

Now the Yellowjackets must prepare for their league opener against Carnegie Mellon University at 4 p.m. Saturday in the Louis Alexander Palestra.

UR will probably have to win the University Athletic Association to reach the NCAA Tournament. The UAA champion receives an automatic bid to the tournament and there are very few bids available to teams that do not win their conference.

There is even less margin for error in the UAA because there is no conference tournament at the end of the season.

Whichever team finishes the regular season with the best league record will win the conference and the automatic bid.

“Winning your conference play is the big deal,” Neer said. “That clearly is our goal.”

The Yellowjackets have a good start to build on, but their winning streak almost ended before it even began.

Junior guard Tim Sweeney hit a running jumpshot as time expired in regulation against D’You-ville College Friday, Nov. 16 to tie the game at 64 and force overtime.

Jones scored five points and grabbed five rebounds in overtime as UR won, 81-72, in the first round of the Chuck Resler Invitational.

“We came face-to-face with our vulnerability right in the first game,” Neer said.

Jones had another big game the next night to help UR beat Bowdoin College, 85-67, and win the Chuck Resler Invitational.

Jones scored 37 points and grabbed 24 rebounds in the tournament to earn MVP honors, and Hauben had a breakout game in the final.

Hauben led the team with 19 points and 14 rebounds while playing 30 minutes in just his second game.

“I really didn’t know what to expect coming into this season,” Hauben said.

“It’s just nice being able to contribute.”

Hauben had another huge game Tuesday, on Nov. 20 against Nazareth College.

He scored 16 points and pulled down nine rebounds, but he had some help from the guards as UR beat Nazareth, 78-77.

Joss dropped in four 3-pointers and 20 points and freshman Ryan Mee did not miss any shots while scoring 17 points on five 3-pointers and two free throws.

“If our guards are sticking their shots from the outside then it forces the other team to play them tighter, which opens up the inside,” Hauben said.

The Yellowjackets came back from Thanksgiving vacation and stayed unbeaten by winning the Holiday Inn Airport Invitational.

UR beat Medaille College, 82-46, in the first round Saturday, Nov. 24 and Neer was pleased that his players stuck to the game plan even when the game turned into a blowout. The easy competition enabled Neer to play everybody on the team for at least five minutes.

“We’re expecting all 16 players to work very hard and play to the same standard we set in practice,” Neer said. “They want to play and we want to let them play.”

All five starters scored at least 10 points the next day as UR beat York College, 73-68.

Joss hit a three-pointer with 35 seconds left to snap a 68-68 tie and made a steal 10 seconds later to seal the win. He finished with 15 points and was named the tournament MVP.

“When we have been tested in tough situations in different ways, we’ve won those close games,” Neer said. “You take a look at any successful season, you win the majority of the close games.”

UR got 43 points from its bench to beat Hobart College, 70-51, Tuesday, Nov. 27.

Jones led the way with 13 points. Joss added 11 and freshman forward Matt Conacher hit double digits for the first time with 10 points.

The Yellow-jackets know that their hot start does not guarantee success during conference play, but they are confident in their play.

“I think if we continue to play hard and play smart and play together, I’ll take my chance,” Neer said. “We just have to control what we’re capable of controlling.”

Jacobs can be reached at bjacobs@campustimes.org.



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