Confident. Experienced. Self-motivated. Mature. These are all words that UR men’s basketball head coach Mike Neer uses to describe his Yellowjackets that continued their unbeaten streak with a 79-62 win over Hobart College on Tuesday night.
The convincing victory over the Statesmen improves UR’s record to 6-0 and comes on the tail of the Yellowjackets’ home-turf success at the UR/Holiday Inn Airport Invitational, in which the team defeated Johns Hopkins University and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire to take first place.
“The fact that we have most everybody back from a successful season last year including four seniors gives us a real core of experience and a direction the ability to know what we want to do,” said Neer. “Our goals are very high. We would like to return to the Final Four and win. There are 390 Div. III schools so that is a pretty lofty goal.”
Hobart pulled ahead of the Yellowjackets early in the game with an outstanding performance by Hobart forward Davidek Herron, who scored a game high 26-points and shot 12 of 22. “We didn’t contain their best player and we allowed him to get hot,” Neer said of Herron’s play. UR was down by four at the 16 minute mark when senior guard Tim Sweeney hit a three-pointer and ignited an offensive burst that continued the rest of the half.
UR’s defense stepped up their play in the second half and began to resemble the tough defense that carried the team through the Holiday Inn Tournament. “We have the potential to be one of the best defensive teams I’ve coached over 27 years,” remarked Neer of his team’s defensive acumen.
Holding Hobart to only nine points in the third quarter, sophomore gaurd Gabe Perez hit a jumper and then assisted Sweeney on a three-pointer, putting UR ahead 43-31. Sweeney then assisted two lay-ups, one to Perez and another to junior forward Andy Larkin to increase UR’s lead. Larkin and Perez continued the offensive surge and carried UR to an easy 79-62 victory.
“Our key is going to be our defense,” said Neer. “Right now, there isn’t a category in which we aren’t doing statistically outstanding. Our offense is shooting over 50 percent, which is excellent. However, the nature of offense is that you can do a lot of things right but on certain nights the ball just doesn’t go in the hole. That’s why constants like defense and rebounding are so important.”
Neer also commented that we can expect to see more players coming off the bench in the next few games. “I have an idea that it takes about 10 games to get a good feel for your team. Until then we are going to be experimenting with different combinations on the court and seeing which of these people can be of significant contribution and who I can count on when we really need it.” He also added that “these are the people who will be playing for us in the future. If I look the other way then I’m not coaching them.”
The Yellowjackets play their first UAA game when they travel to face Carnegie Mellon University on Saturday, and they will close out the semester when they host Rochester Institute of Technology at 8 p.m. in the Palestra on Dec. 11.