At the beginning of the year, the Bulldogs were determined to finally win more than seven conference games after three consecutive years of 7-7 finishes in Ivy League play. In this Saturday’s game against American (7-2), the Elis will be looking to avoid the number seven for an entirely different reason.
To prevent a potential seven-game skid, the Bulldogs (1-6) are hoping to notch their first victory in nearly a month. The last six-game losing streak the team endured was during the 2003-’04 season. The Elis responded to that disappointment by winning their last non-conference game en route to a respectable .500 finish in Ancient Eight play.
The current streak has been characterized by a handful of close losses and unfortunate finishes. The Bulldogs have yet to beat a Division I team this year — their lone victory came against D-III Allegheny on Nov. 12. Forward Caleb Holmes ’08 said the team was frustrated with its recent play but still has high hopes for the season.
“We are disappointed,” Holmes said. “But we always seem to bounce back and have a good practice after we lose … We think we have enough talent to win the league but we need to keep working and hopefully win a few games and get some momentum going.”
Head coach James Jones has experience in dealing with long losing streaks after his first Bulldog team lost 10 straight games to end the non-conference portion of their schedule. Jones said his team is still fighting and has not changed its expectations at all from the beginning of the season.
“Every time we’ve come off a loss, the kids have a heightened sense of urgency to do what’s necessary to get better,” Jones said. “We just have to try to be a little bit more patient on offense … and to play with more passion on defense.”
The Elis last game was a 90-80 loss against Sacred Heart in which the Bulldogs allowed the Pioneers to shoot 57.1 percent from the field. Although the Elis outrebounded Sacred Heart by a 33-22 margin, their perimeter defense was torn apart by the Pioneer guards. Sacred Heart shot 10-17 from behind the arc for an incredible 58.8 percent.
Things aren’t going to get any easier during this weekend’s two-game homestand. The American Eagles are 7-2 and are paced by guards Andre Ingram and Arvydas Eitutavicius. Ingram leads the Eagles with 23 three-pointers and shoots an incredible 50 percent from beyond the arc. Stopping the outside shot and keeping Ingram from getting into any sort of rhythm will be essential if the Elis hope to win this game.
The Bulldogs’ game against American represents yet another tough matchup in one of the team’s most difficult non-conference schedules in recent years. Despite the losing streak, Holmes said the team enjoys the high quality of competition and wouldn’t want an easier schedule.
“Everybody wants to play good teams,” Holmes said. “It wouldn’t be any fun if we just played teams like Allegheny.”
The game against American will be freshman guard Alexander Zampier’s third straight start.
“[Zampier] has been up and down,” Jones said. “He had a really good game against Wagner but he didn’t fare as well against Sacred Heart.”
This Saturday, Zampier and the rest of the Bulldogs will look to rebound from their inconsistencies and turn their season around.