Titans Take Care of Business at Home
Written by WZND Newsroom on February 8, 2022
Image courtesy of Kodiak Creative
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – After two tough back-to-back losses, the Illinois Wesleyan Men’s Basketball team managed to find their defensive groove, getting back in the win column against North Park with a final score of 73-49.
“With our team, it’s all about effort,” said Head Coach Ron Rose. “We’ve had a defensive mentality the entire year… this team has five guys that are out there playing defense fully engaged.”
The Titans claimed their 17th victory of the season with the help of a familiar face, forward Matthew Leritz. Leritz posted a team high 19 points with a shooting percentage of 63% from inside the arc. Leritz currently sits at averaging just below a double-double per game, with 17.7 points and 9.8 rebounds on average.
“Matt works really hard,” said Coach Rose. “I think it’s a testament to his preparation, his conditioning, and he’s a player who plays hard all the time… It’s a luxury to have a guy like him.”
Leritz wasn’t alone in his quest to dominate the paint however, as forward Cody Mitchell has found his footing as of late. Against North Park, Mitchell managed to post a team high 12 total rebounds, and in the team’s victory against Carthage this past Saturday he posted 14 points.
“Cody takes us to another level,” said Coach Rose. “I thought he played a tremendous game last night. He’s an elite rebounder and he can bring different things to the table, last night it was rebounding, and two games ago it was scoring.”
With starting guard Peter Lambesis dealing with a hand injury against North Park it gave room for other Titans to step up in his place. One of those who rose to the challenge was Ryan Sroka. Sroka posted a near season-high 14 points all while coming off of the bench for IWU.
“I always say he has a slow burn,” said Coach Rose. “He’s out there and he’s brewing. He’s got an intensity about him. It’s been fun to watch his development this year.”
Not only did the Titans excel on the offensive side of the ball, the team was firing on all cylinders on the defensive end as well. North Park had a true shooting percentage of 36.9%, with nine turnovers forced by IWU.
“When you can get a turnover and turn it into points on the other end there’s a momentum piece to that,” said Coach Rose.
The much needed win comes in large part due to a week long break between games, giving the team some much needed rest before the final stretch of the season.
“We had not had two consecutive practices since our first semester,” said Coach Rose. “Last week we were able to get back in the laboratory, fix things and work on what really allows us to be successful… You can see the difference in our last two games with how we’re playing.”
Ultimately the win against North Park was a crucial one to gain, as the Titans are only one game ahead in first place of the CCIW, with Wheaton and Elmhurst nipping at their heels.
“We’ve put ourselves in a really good position at this time,” said Coach Rose. “You can’t win four games in one night, you can only win the one you’re playing so that is always our focus and what we’re addressing.”
The Titans will head on the road to play one of their final away games this season against Millikin tonight at 7p.m.