Without a go-to scorer, the Tigers must use a team approach to find success this season
By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD — After losing four starters, including two all-Wisconsin Valley Conference players, to graduation, the Marshfield boys basketball team headed into this season in rebuilding mode.
Nearly halfway through the 2014-15 campaign, the Tigers are still searching for the consistency they need to become what they want to be in time for the postseason.
Marshfield dropped its second double-overtime game of the season on Monday night at Eau Claire Memorial and then lost to Chippewa Falls on Tuesday, falling to 4-6. Three of the Tigers’ losses have come by five points or less, and numerous careless turnovers have been the culprit in each defeat.
Prior to the loss to Memorial, Marshfield has twice had a two-game losing streak followed by a two-game win streak. The inconsistency has come down to taking care of the ball and valuing each possession.
Without an elite scorer on the roster, the Tigers have to take advantage of every possession they have.
“Soundness with the ball would be my No. 1 thing,” Marshfield coach Bill Zuiker said regarding the team’s biggest need for improvement. “Some of these turnovers we are committing are inexplicable. Sometimes turnovers happen because of pressure, but other times they happen because we lose our mind for a second. Those are the ones we have to eliminate.”
During the past six seasons, three of Marshfield’s top seven all-time leading scorers—Luke Zuiker, Elliot Ashbeck and Cale Zuiker—have passed through the program. This year’s group does not have someone who can consistently carry the offense.
Senior guard Tanner Boson and 6-foot-5 senior center Will Spindler are the Tigers’ top scorers thus far this season, each averaging 9.1 points per game. Sophomore point guard Alec Hinson, senior guards Jordan Schlinsog and Caleb Alexander, junior forward Adam Fravert, and senior forward Kegan Fassler are all averaging between 5 and 7 points per game. All seven of those top players in the rotation have hit for double figures at least once this season.
While balanced, the Tigers have to seek out the hot hand to put points on the board.
“Every different night it’s going to be someone new,” Zuiker said. “It’s going to take a team effort for us. We just don’t have a guy that we can tab and say, ‘He’ll get us 20.’
“We have to identify that guy at that time. That’s what is really important for us. It may be driven by a matchup; (it) may just be a guy’s night. We have to take advantage of that as best we can.”
Other than Stevens Point, the state’s top-ranked Division 1 team, the Wisconsin Valley Conference looks balanced. After starting 1-1 in conference with a loss to Point and a win over Wisconsin Rapids, Marshfield has hit a key point in its schedule.
Four of the next five games are on the road, including three Wisconsin Valley Conference games at Merrill, Wausau East, and Wausau West. Sandwiched in the middle are nonconference games at Rhinelander and at home against Eau Claire North. The Tigers wrap up the regular season with six-straight Valley games, four of which will be at home.