Eight losses – Croup’s Corner

Written By Josh Croup, Sports Columnist

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The Point Park women’s basketball team has gone 54-10 over the course of the past two seasons.

In head coach Tony Grenek’s first year in 2011-12, Point Park went 23-7 and made an appearance in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Division II National Tournament.

Since that first season, Point Park returned to the tournament two more times and never lost more than seven games in one season.

Last Saturday against National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II opponent Slippery Rock University (SRU), Point Park lost its eighth game of the season, the most in the Grenek era.

With six regular season games remaining, Point Park may lose double-digit games for the first time since the 2010-11 season.

This season looked like a challenge from the beginning. The Pioneers unexpectedly lost three top players in Kelly Johnson, Sam Weir and Ja’Nia McPhatter. The starting five consisted of both young players and role players.

It wasn’t going to be an easy season.

Saturday was Point Park’s last non-conference test of the season. The Pioneers have six games left after Saturday’s 84-61 loss at Slippery Rock, including four straight home games starting Tuesday against West Virginia Tech.

What is the source of Point Park’s recent struggles?

It’s simply not the same dominant women’s team that we’ve seen in the past few seasons. The offense just isn’t there.

Against conference opponentsf last year, Point Park averaged 78.93 points per game. This year, the Pioneers have struggled to put up 60 points consistently, averaging 63.46 points per game.

Point Park has scored more than 60 points just once in its last five conference games.

The Pioneers did manage to hit the 60-point mark with one minute left against Slippery Rock last Saturday, but not after allowing more than 80 points against The Rock. SRU’s largest lead of the afternoon was by 27 points.

The Rock won by 23 points, but could have easily won by at least 30. SRU shot 50 percent from the field, opposed to Point Park’s 38.2 percent.

The Pioneers were outrebounded, couldn’t work the ball inside the paint, committed 16 turnovers and scored just two fast break points opposed to SRU’s 14.

SRU just outplayed Point Park.

But still, the Pioneers have some positive signs moving forward.

They actually moved up in the standings to second place in the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC) Colonial Division with Indiana University East’s victory over Rio Grande Saturday.

IU East has defeated Point Park twice this year, and the Pioneers bested Rio Grande in their first game of 2016.

Point Park hosts Rio Grande this Saturday with a one game lead over the Red Storm entering February.

Each of Point Park’s remaining six games are against KIAC opponents with less-than-impressive records.

Point Park’s final six opponents have a combined overall record of 49-76 (.392) and a combined 23-38 (.377) KIAC record as of Feb. 1 (see graphic below).

There is still time to climb in the standings to leapfrog IU East, who holds a one game lead over Point Park.

Despite all of Point Park’s struggles, it still has had a positive season with a 15-8 (8-3) record.

The Pioneers have held their own, and with a soft schedule ahead of them, there’s no reason why they can’t get a high conference tournament seed to possibly return to the NAIA National Tournament.