Watching Saturday night’s close victory over the lowly UC Davis Aggies, I could not help but think about the level of consistency that comes from the the UCR men’s basketball team. I’ve noticed that these Highlanders have always played to the level of their opponents. I know that sounds like a good thing when one considers teams like Long Beach State, but it’s a terrible thing when considering awful teams like UC Davis.
I noticed that when the Highlanders played against Long Beach, they played the best basketball I’ve ever seen from this team. The Highlanders led during most of the game, but the 49ers came back to steal it in overtime. Despite the loss, Phil Martin called it their best game of the year. Indeed it was.
A few weeks ago, the Highlanders also performed well against the second best team in the conference. Taking on the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos, the Highlanders had an outstanding performance from Phil Martin as he scored a career-high 33 points. The Highlanders also went into overtime in that game and won that one by nine points
I think it’s great to see this team playing to the level of the opponents, but only when it’s against good opponents. I think that’s where the problem lies. UCR has the potential to be the second best team in the conference, but they only seem to be playing well against the good teams. Every single game has been a close and entertaining one, but UCR cannot do that with every team. There are teams that they must defeat pretty easily.
The UC Davis game was a perfect example. The Aggies led for about half of the game. This is not a team that the Highlanders should be giving up leads to. I would have loved seeing a double-digit win, but UCR only prevailed by five.
Having said that, I must give credit where credit is due. The team did play well without the conference’s leading scorer. They also were in control as they limited the costly turnovers and prevented the opposition from getting to the line. It was a good win. All I am asking for is a little more consistency.
So the Highlanders proved a point: they can play as well as the best in the league, but they can also play as poorly as any team in the conference.