GODFREY — For L&C men’s basketball coach Doug Stotler, making a diagnosis as to his team’s needs was the easy part.
Now he’s working on the cure.
“We simply have turned the ball over way too many times,” Stotler said. “One of the biggest adjustments when players move from high school to college, even junior college, is how fast the game speeds up with a shot clock and man-to-man pressure defenses game after game. That has caused problems on offense and that has led to turnovers.”
The Trailblazers sit at 4-8 as they hit the annual extended Christmas break. They last played Dec. 15 at John A. Logan College in Carlinville and won’t play against until Jan. 5 at St. Louis Community College at Forest Park.
“It’s good and bad,” Stotler said of the time off. “Teams can use it to mend injuries and get some rest, but you’re away from the game, too.”
L&C’s players will return to the practice court Dec. 30 to prepare for the remaining 15 games.
“We’re not happy with where we stand at this point,” Stotler said. “We haven’t won a Region 24 game yet and that’s disappointing. But the good part of that situation is that we still have 14 region games remaining.”
Stotler said he can trace just about any of his team’s woes to turnovers.
“We haven’t won a region game, but we’ve had region games we could have and probably should have won,” he said. “We lost by six at Shawnee and we lost in overtime at Lincoln Trail. But for us to be relevant in Region 24, those kind of games are the ones we need to win.
“Possessions are critical. Both those games came down to possessions we turned the ball over on. You have to be able to get shots on possessions, but many times, we aren’t. Some of the problem is because of youth and trouble dealing with the pressure defenses. We only have one player who has more assists than turnovers.
“We have dribblers instead of drivers at this point,” he said. “Many of the problems come on the dribble. We need drivers.”
Dawson Berry, a 6-foot-4 freshman from Centralia, leads the Trailblazers in scoring with an 11.9 points-per-game average. He’s the only L&C player averaging in double figures. Delany Ortiz and Jalen Morgan each average 9.7 ppg.
L&C opened 2-2 and was 4-3 when its current five-game skid started with that 111-108 double-overtime loss to Lincoln Trail in Robinson. The Blazers’ 101-36 victory over Lindenwood-Belleville’s junior varsity on Nov. 26 was Stotler’s 400th career coaching victory.
The Trailblazers played SWIC close until falling away late 64-50 and most recently lost at Logan 76-55 on Dec. 15.
Not all is “woe-is-me” around Trailblazerland.
“There are definitely positives,” Stotler said. “We’re competitive and when you’re competing with schools like SWIC and John A. Logan, that’s good sign."
“I don’t want to step out on a limb and say we would have won those games if we’d eliminated turnovers, but we would have been even more competitive.
“And we’re guarding really well defensively,” Stotler said. “We held Logan to almost 20 points below its average. Some of that is our deliberate offense, but some is that we can get out and guard people.”
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