Bulldogs' home woes a head-scratcher

By Steve Sell
February 20, 2015

McPherson College’s Sport Center home-court advantage for the Bulldog men has turned into a home-court disadvantage.

It’s one of the most confounding things I’ve seen in a long time. The Bulldogs are 9-20 on the season, but just 2-8 at home. Three of their five KCAC wins have been on the road, including scintillating successes at Bethany and Southwestern, with the other at Kansas Wesleyan.

During the Bulldogs’ four-year national tournament run, there was no place like home. The Bulldogs did go just 5-6 at home in their fourth and final appearance — that was the year they made nationals after finishing eighth in the conference — but before that Mac was 18-0, 11-4 and 12-4 at home — a 41-8 record. That’s a true home-court advantage.

Mac coach Tim Swartzendruber, who has done a remarkable job in his seven years at the helm, is staggered by his team’s inability to play well at home. In fact, even their “good” KCAC losses have been games on the road — 71-70 at Sterling and 68-66 at Friends to name two. 

The Bulldogs play their final home game on Saturday, a 5 p.m. clash against second-place Saint Mary. The Spires are coming in brimming with confidence, having unloaded for 102 points at Bethany on Thursday. They have the KCAC’s best player in Grant Greenberg, who could be a first-team All-American. The Bulldogs will have to be at their best, or they’ll finish an unsightly 2-9 at home.

The good news is that Mac has done just enough to be included in the eight-team KCAC Postseason Tournament. Remember, it was two years ago they were the No. 8 seed and then hopped on to their magic carpet to win the KCAC Tournament and advance to nationals.

Chances are, they’re going to play Tabor in the first round at Hillsboro. Maybe being on the road will be a good thing. The Bulldogs can go one of two ways — they can play with nothing to lose and relax or come out and mail it in.

One thing about this team, it hasn’t done the latter. Thursday’s game against Friends was a good indication as it shaved the 28-point lead to 11 late. The players also haven’t bickered on the court and showed attitude. They give it their best, but it just hasn’t been good enough.

Who knows, assuming Tabor is the opponent, that means the Bluejays already have their trip to nationals wrapped up and what it does in the tournament makes no difference. It could come out with a lack of focus and the Bulldogs could take advantage of it. Everybody starts the “second season” 0-0. Maybe the “second season” will go better than the first.