Stories from UE’s 103-69 win over Oakland City University, the Aces’ seventh victory in their last nine games:
—Courier & Press: Aces hit 100 in win over Oakland City
—Quotes from Marty Simmons, Ryan Sawvell and D.J. Balentine
—Princeton Daily Clarion: Mighty Oaks can’t keep up with Aces
—GoPurpleAces.com: UE earns victory over Oakland City
—Despite a lopsided victory in which UE never trailed, coach Marty Simmons again said the Aces didn’t bring a consistent approach to the Oakland City game. If they’re going to listen to Simmons, now’s the time. Not only is Butler the last non-conference game (BracketBusters aside) for UE, but it’s a chance to earn a signature victory before walking into Creighton Dec. 29. Wins over Oakland City, Alabama State and Western Illinois don’t exactly indicate a team can hang with Creighton. Knocking off Butler would — especially a Bulldogs squad that won’t overlook the Aces given what’s happened in the teams’ last two meetings. Simmons said his team has taken ownership of its season, accepting the message some of the time. For 40 minutes? Maybe Saturday will mark a first for that.
—The focus of my game story revolved around execution of the Aces’ fast break offense, something Simmons has asked of his team for a while now yet not seen. UE out-scored Oakland City 14-0 on the break, often hearing yells of “Go! Go! Go!” from Simmons before a defensive rebound was even fully in hand. And that is the key to establishing the run for the Aces: the boards. The Colorado State game comes to mind as one where UE couldn’t play with much tempo, and the Aces relied on lights-out shooing in half court sets from freshman D.J. Balentine just to stay within single digits. It’s no coincidence UE was out-rebounded handily in that game. But against Oakland City, the Aces took a 47-26 advantage on the boards. Especially in conference play, correlation between more rebounds/fast break points and victories will be one to watch.
—Sophomore Ryan Sawvell scored a career-high 16 points, but the forward is way more proud of his rebounding. He had seven against the Mighty Oaks — three on the offensive end — and again made sure to mention that in the postgame rather than his points. Sawvell said he met with Simmons for about an hour recently to discuss his role. Since then, he’s posted back-to-back games in double figures and really brought a different attitude. Sawvell is playing with a smile and yells for the ball, unlike the two games preceding — an average six minutes and one point. That outside shot is still something Sawvell is working on. Though he hasn’t hit a 3-pointer in a game yet, Sawvell will get a chance with more time at the four spot. He still chucks quite a few 3s in warm ups, and most go in.