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‘Up and down year’

Hampden-Sydney College (H-SC) Head Men’s Basketball Coach Dee Vick described the 2016-17 season as “an up and down year” for his team.

The campaign came to a conclusion for the Tigers on Feb. 23 when they lost 63-53 to top-seeded Guilford College in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) tournament quarterfinals in Salem.

The Tigers finished with an 11-16 overall record, including 6-10 in the ODAC during the regular season.

“It was a little frustrating, to be honest with you,” Vick said of the season. “We just couldn’t seem to put it together in long stretches.”

He pointed to the close games H-SC was a part of. There were six games in which the Tigers lost by less than six points. In those games, they had at least 13 turnovers and missed at least five free throws.

“In close games, you’ve got to make free throws and you’ve got to take care of the ball, and you’ve got to be great on the defensive boards,” Vick said. “And we talked about those things, we addressed those things, but they just continued to plague us throughout.”

He said a lot was learned through the experience, though.

“I think one thing we know is we’ve got to get a little bit bigger and stronger,” Vick said. “This offseason is really important to our strength development. And we’ve got to bring in some good recruits. We lose Jake (Duncan) and JaVonte (Reddick), who did a tremendous job for us — two terrific senior leaders, two of our better players.”

Vick noted that about three quarters of the way through the season, he and his staff changed the Tigers from being a traditional two-post offensive team to a four-guard offensive team to help with scoring. This hurt them a little bit defensively, but it led to some big wins.

Reflecting on the season, Vick said, “I think one of the high points has to be our home win against Virginia Wesleyan (College), a team we have not beaten in seven years.”

Wins against ODAC powers Virginia Wesleyan and Randolph-Macon College came after a difficult January stretch in which the Tigers went 1-6, their lone win coming against Guilford.

Vick said an open and honest team meeting that lasted about three hours precipitated the turnaround.

“We beat three of the top four teams in the ODAC, so we were close,” Vick said. “We just struggled to play at that high level consistently.”