ORIGINALLY WRITTEN ERIC CLARK
The hardest thing about opening your season on the road might be the trip itself. Add the variable that you have to play the defending NAIA national champions and you might have a recipe for disaster.
The Tabor College men’s basketball team ran head first into that scenario Friday and Saturday in Orange City, Iowa, dropping two games at the Pizza Ranch Red Raider Classic.
“We just had really miserable outings,” coach Don Brubacher said. “In the first game, we had an awful lot of trouble with basic effort-we just didn’t play hard.”
The Bluejays lost to Saint Ambrose University Friday night 95-75. In the first half, the Jays shot 32.4 percent from the field and 36.4 from the 3-point line.
At halftime Tabor trailed 47-33.
The Bluejays shot slightly better in the second half, but were unable to close the Saint Ambrose lead.
“We couldn’t shoot the ball to save our lives,” Brubacher said.
Jimmy Janzen paced the Bluejays with 13 points, two rebounds and two assists.
“Jimmy had the best tournament of anyone,” Brubacher said. “Still, when your best offensive player is shooting less than 50 percent from the floor, and your leading scorer has 13 points, you better have great balance in your scoring, or you’re not going to get much done offensively.”
In their second game of the tournament, the Bluejays faced Northwestern State, the defending NAIA national champions.
The Jays fell hard, 111-50, and shot 31.4 percent from the field and 11.1 percent from beyond the arch.
“We played really poor basketball against good competition,” Brubacher said. “They’re the defending national champions, they’re a good team.
“They’re a team we lost to in a very close game in the national tournament a year ago, so obviously their game has remained on a very high level and gotten even better, and our game is gone.”
The Bluejays turned the ball over 28 times in the game.
“In both games, we had a lot of difficulties with execution,” Brubacher said. “We simply don’t have a game on either end of the court, we just don’t have anything to work with.”
Micah Ratzlaff, last season’s leading scorer, played in the tournament, but was held virtually in check by both teams.
Ratzlaff, who has been nursing bone spurs on his ankle for the last six months, was at best, 20 percent healthy, according to Brubacher.
“His physical condition slows him down,” Brubacher said. “He’s still in the rehabilitation process.”
Ratzlaff finished with 11 points in the first game and had two points against Northwestern.
With the double defeats, the Bluejays begin the new season at 0-2 and will host the Tabor College Classic Friday and Saturday.
Tabor will face Northwestern Oklahoma State University Friday and St. Gregory’s Saturday night.
Both games are scheduled for 8 p.m.
“We’ll do everything we can to change as quickly as possible,” Brubacher said. “We’re just going to try and get a game put together.”