Liberty basketball team looking to get defensive
Things aren't fully in place for Liberty's basketball team, but another week on the calendar can hopefully shift the Hurricanes into the right direction.
Liberty (9-5, 6-2) ended last week on a high note by winning two straight after dropping another Lehigh Valley Conference contest in as many weeks, when Central Catholic (13-2) downed the 'Canes 68-56 last Tuesday.
After a loss to Parkland previously, coupled with a loss to Central, Liberty has lost to the top two teams in the conference. It's not the type of trend that head coach Chad Landis wanted to see out of his group that coasted through the league season during the month of December, but he knows that if Liberty wants to get on a run here to close out the regular season, it's going to start on the defensive end.
"Defense is where we definitely need to get better at," Landis said. "Some of it is effort and some of it has to deal with scheme. We just have to be able to get stops on the defensive end if we want to get back to playing like we did before."
The most points Liberty gave up through December was 59 points to Arch Bishop Carroll, a game they lost 59-55 on December 29.
Ever since the New Year came to the forefront, four out of seven teams have eclipsed the 60-point plateau on Liberty. And it's not just tipping the 60-point mark, it's eclipsing the 70-point realm, as Parkland, Central Dauphin, Central Catholic and Reading have averaged 73.25 in those four contests mentioned.
Liberty lost three of those games, with last Saturday's 80-68 win over Reading, being the only victory they've seen when giving up over 60 points in a contest this season.
The win over the Knights was also the first nonleague victory over an opponent outside of the LVC this year.
"It was definitely nice to get a win over a team like Reading," said Landis. "To get one on the road was important for us. We had something to prove to ourselves in that game and I'm happy that we were able to get the win."
With Deshawn Oyeniyi back into lineup since last week after being a week out with the flu, Liberty is back to their normal selves and have a week that features Emmaus (last night) and Nazareth on Friday night.
Both games are on the road, as well as Sunday's Lehigh Valley Hoop Group Showcase at Parkland when they open up the five-game slate at noon against state power Council Rock North.
Freedom ends the showcase with a 6:40 p.m. tilt against Hudson Catholic from New Jersey.
"Emmaus is 6-2 in the league and they've been tough all year," Landis said. "Then we go to Nazareth for Todd Rothrock-Derek Kehoe night, which is always an emotional night for everyone and then close out the week against Council Rock North. None of these games are going to be easy."
Bethlehem Catholic (8-7, 2-6) got one of two wins they needed last week when they upended Nazareth 66-42, but lost to Whitehall for the second time this season on Friday night, dropping a 56-51 scoreline, as Freddie Simmons led the Hawks in scoring with 17 on the night.
Becahi needs three wins to clinch a district berth and the remaining road isn't favorable at all, as they took on Parkland (12-3) last night, followed by Friday's game against Emmaus (8-6).
The Hawks travel to Dieruff (5-10) next Tuesday in the only game left on the calendar against a team with a below .500 record.
Liberty senior center Greg Noack was nominated last week for a chance to participate in the McDonald's All-American game to be held on April 3 in Chicago's United Center, the home of the Bulls.
Noack is one of over 800 players from across the country nominated for the contest with the final roster being announced on February 14 at pm on ESPNU.
Noack has already committed to Monmouth University and is the second Liberty player during Chad Landis's coaching career to have been nominated for the team.
Darrun Hilliard, a sophomore guard at Villanova, was also nominated for the McDonald's team in 2011.