By Jason Maholy
What a difference a week makes.
Chicago Christian came into their matchup against St. Francis (Wheaton) Dec. 20 on the heels of a huge win over Riverside-Brookfield seven days prior.
The Knights did everything right in that 66-61 victory: crisp execution on offense, strong defense that shut down the Bulldogs’ inside game, and overall good team basketball.
A week later, they did just about everything wrong, particularly during the third quarter when a 20-4 run by the Spartans turned a five-point halftime deficit into a blowout. St. Francis left Palos Heights with a 68-45 victory.
Knights coach Kevin Pittman told his team he didn’t have an explanation for the poor showing, other than altogether bad basketball against a quality opponent.
“We knew that was good team,” he said of the Spartans. “Their height gave us a little bit of difficulty, they moved the ball really well and they’re physicality, I thought, made us back away a little bit and do some things I thought we had taken care of.
“But I just didn’t like the way we responded to their physicalness. I’d give us an ‘F’ on both side so the ball tonight.”
Christian’s offense was out of sync, which Pittman attributed to “too much one-on-one nonsense” and guys forcing bad shots with the hope of being bailed lout by foul calls that didn’t come.
“We were doing things that are uncharacteristic of us,” he said. “I just didn’t like the way we played. I thought defensively we were worse than offensively, and we were terrible on offense. We completely lost focus defensively.”
Pittman reminded his charges that as big as the win over Riverside-Brookfield was, it was just one win; and as bad as the loss to St. Francis was, it was just one loss.
The Knights will regroup and try to get back on track during a holiday break trip to Orlando, where they’ll play three games before heading back to Illinois on Dec. 31. The trip will be a great experience for the team, Pittman said.
“For those guys to be down there in that atmosphere and get them out of here and be together with teammates, it’s great,” he said. “We did it a couple years ago and I still have guys who went on that trip that talk to me and say it was so much fun and they had such a great time.
“When you can combine basketball and the theme parks we get to go to and the team binding, it’s a great experience for our boys. We’re looking forward to it, but we’ve got to get over this [loss] first.”