By Todd Thomas, Staff Writer
The Truman Falcons have only won four games this year, yet they’ve still maintained a level of play that’s been competitive, and they continue to improve even as the season enters its final week.
At the beginning of the 2014-15 campaign the Falcons were lead statistically by freshman forward Ronald Cooper who was leading the team in scoring, rebounding, and blocked shots. Unfortunately, he was academically ineligible after just 14 games and missed the rest of the season. Several other players joined him on the bench due to injury and ineligibility, leaving them with just six players in uniform.
The situation could have been a disaster, leading to blowouts on the court, but they hunkered down and made the most of the situation.
“It’s strange, but it seems like the less players we have the better we’re playing,” said freshman guard Tavion Trimble, whose averaging 10.3 points per game. “With just six guys there’s more togetherness and I have had to trust the other players even more than with a full team.”
Guard Tony Enwiya, who leads the Falcons in scoring at 11.4 points per game, also doesn’t think having six players in uniform is a major setback for the team, except when it comes to foul trouble.
“There’s nothing wrong with it. The only thing I’d be worried about is foul trouble. Right now I’m confident with the six players we’ve got and we’re really playing well together,” Enwiya said.
The Falcons have been playing better lately, but on several occasions their opponent has pulled away in the latter stages of games.
Enwiya thinks they’re about to turn the page, however, and play through all four quarters at the same level.
“Toward the end of games we’re right there a lot of times,” he said. “We just have to close them out and we have to do it more consistently. I think we can.”
Playing with such tenacity, and coming up short in games is bound to cause some discouragement to set in over the season. But offsetting the pessimism is the basic love of the game of basketball.
“We didn’t go into the season expecting to have the record we have,” Trimble said. “But we’re learning everyday from our mistakes. It’s still fun because we’re playing the game that we love.”
“I never lose the motivation to play basketball,” added Enwiya. I love playing with these guys, and everyday they play just as hard as I do, and they’re looking to win.”
Most of the Falcons played several years of basketball on the high school level before coming to Truman. But 6-5 forward Somoto Okoye, who hails from Lagos, Nigeria, is relatively new to the basketball. Since he’s a newcomer to the sport he said he has no problem doing the less glamorous duties on the basketball court.
“Being my first year in basketball I’m not concerned about the flashy stuff. I’m more of a cleanup guy. I set the pick, and get the rebound – I let the guards do the flashy things. I know I’m not perfect yet, I’m just using my skill set to help the team,” Okoye said.
As the season comes to a close, many in the student body at Truman don’t know what the team has been going through for the past four months as the games are sparsely attended on most occasions. A bigger turnout would be nice, but it’s not something the Falcons dwell on because there are several factors that affect attendance.
“There are a lot of different ethnicities here at Truman and people from a lot of different backgrounds. They probably don’t look at basketball the way other colleges that have more Americans do. If it was soccer maybe they’d come out more,” Trimble said.
“It would be fantastic if more students came out,” added Okoye. “But some of them don’t even know we have a basketball team. And some have told me that games on weeknights are too late and the games on Saturday start too early.”
Whether it’s early or late the Falcons intend to keep playing hard for the remainder of the season and try to get some momentum going into the post-season Region IV Division 1 Tournament.
“I want to win the last games and have a good playoff run,” said Enwiya.
“I want to win – that’s basically it … nothing more,” added Trimble.