Despite a 16-5 record and the fact that his Southwestern Illinois College team is in the hunt for a Great Rivers Athletic Conference title, the 2012-13 season may be taking a toll on Blue Storm coach Jay Harrington.
Especially the one-point losses.
Playing before a large Saturday afternoon home crowd, SWIC saw an 11-point lead disappear in the final seven minutes as it fell 69-68 to Wabash Valley College in a key GRAC contest.
The one-point loss is the third of the season for SIC whose five losses have come by a combined total of 14 points.
SWIC dropped two one-point games to Mineral Area College -- 63-62 and 65-64 -- six days apart earlier in the season and also dropped 73-69 decision to No. 2 nationally ranked Vincent University.
SWIC's only decisive loss came 70-63 at Lakeland College.
"And that wasn't a seven-point game. We were within a point or two and they (Lakeland) hit some free throws in the final seconds,'' Harrington said. "As a coach, you can handle the 20-point losses better because on those nights, the other team is just better. The one-point loses stay with you a while. Looking back, we could be 20-1 or 19-2 and ranked in the top 10 in the nation.''
SWIC's offense was woeful in the first 12 minutes of the first half on Saturday. On its first 31 offensive possessions, the Blue Storm made just 5-of-19 shots and committed 12 turnovers.
Still, SWIC led by five at halftime.
"How? Well our defense was good. Defensively, we're very good,'' Harrington said. "Offensively, our rhythm was just off. Things like not getting the ball to the open player quickly enough or turning the ball over too much. We just didn't execute well at all on the offensive end of the court.
"Keanau (Post) had 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting. He played well. But when you've got a 7-foot player who is going to the University of Missouri, you have to get him more then eight shots. Our players just didn't find the right people.''
A perennial GRAC power, Wabash Valley also played well according to Harrington.
"Before the season it was supposed to be Wabash and us battling it out for the GRAC title. They have seven losses, but they got two of their best kids back recently -- one of which has signed with the University of Washington. They are a very good basketball team now,'' Harrington said. "Still we had the ball down one point with 2.1 seconds left with a chance to win it.
"If we run the play I drew up in the timeout, our guy has a clear path to the basket. Instead, one of the kids takes a 3-point shot trying to be a hero and we get beat. Again, its all about execution.''
SWIC faces a big week when it travels to Carterville on Wednesday to take on John A. Logan College at 7:30 p.m. The Blue Storm return home on Saturday at 3 p.m. to play Rend Lake College.
Cannon sparks women
Sophomore All-American Janelle Cannon scored 31 points as SWIC (14-4) ran its winning streak to three games with a 62-46 win over Wabash Valley on Saturday.
The effort was the second straight game in which Cannon, a Louisville University recruit, has been over 30 points. Cannon had 33 points in a 79-68 win over Olney Central on Wednesday.
"She (Cannon) didn't play against Lindenwood-Belleville on Monday because she injured her finger against Kaskaskia. But we got a big night out of Danielle (Duncan),'' Juenger said. "Against Wabash (Valley), I thought we played very well. That's about as well as we've played.''
SWIC's freshman have also shown improvement in recent weeks. Point guard Lateesha Deloach continues to play well and is becoming more aggressive on the offense end of the court while athletic Adrianna McNeal has shown recent signs that she could be a force on both ends of the floor.
"T (Deloach) has been shooting the ball well from the perimeter and Adrianna had a nice game against Wabash. If we can get our post players going a little more, we're going to be tough to beat.''
SWIC will play at John A. Logan College at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday and then will host Rend Lake at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at 239-2661 or firstname.lastname@example.org