A two-week layoff between basketball games can result in a dead shooting eye. At least, that’s how USI men’s coach Rodney Watson looks at it. His team is halfway through such a break, with its next game Saturday night at home against Notre Dame College out of Ohio. So the Eagles have been shooting and shooting and shooting. “When you play four games and then don’t play for two weeks, you lose that purposeful edge,” is how Watson describes the problem. Still, USI took Saturday and Sunday off. I figure that two-day break will have the team ready to go full speed by Monday.
Time off also helps teams recuperate from injuries. In USI’s case, the injuries are to sophomore forward Austin Davis (ankle), senior guard Kenyon Smith (lingering foot injury), senior guard Melvyn Little (lingering foot injury) and, of course, senior forward Keith DeWitt (surgery on left knee). Davis, Smith and even Little, I understand, probably will be ready to go Saturday.
One more thing unrelated to any of that: coach Rodney Watson really likes it when his players get into their schoolwork. Case in point is Orlando Rutledge, who I write about in my Monday column in print and online.
Watson said that last week, after Rutledge scored 15 points in USI’s win over Philander Smith in the final game of the Bill Joergens Memorial Classic, the junior forward went upstairs to the athletic office, sat down at a computer and worked on a paper that was due in one of his classes. Watson found out when he was driving back home to visit his family in southern Illinois and got a call from one of his student assistant coaches, Blake Woodard. Watson sounded excited, happy and in awe all at the same time when he told the story.