The exasperation and frustration on Columbia College men’s basketball coach Bob Burchard’s face was evident as he ran his hand through his hair, attempting to explain the inconsistencies that Columbia College has experienced this season.
“It’s been a pattern,” Burchard said, “If it’s going easy, we’ll play. As soon as someone decides to play harder, (we) won’t.”
It went easy for ColumbiaCollege early, leading to a 10-point lead in the first half. Then, the switch suddenly turned off Thursday night at the Arena at Southwell Complex, and the Cougars lost 87-68 to McKendreeCollege.
“I think you saw two different levels of team tonight,” Burchard said. “It was so evident tonight. For 13 to 14 minutes, you saw a good basketball team. Then all of the sudden we were not so good.”
McKendree, who had five players listed at 6-feet-5 and above, controlled the glass all night, outrebounding Columbia College 44-25, including 14 offensive rebounds that led to 21 second-chance points.
“They just killed us tonight,” Burchard said. “Defense and rebounding are the hard work parts of the game and our guys just weren’t interested.”
At 13-13 overall, and with just four games remaining until the American Midwest Conference Tournament, the sputtering comes at a critical juncture for the Cougars, who fell to 5-3 and third place in the conference. Their next three games are all on the road, including a trip to first-place Illinois-Springfield, which routed the Cougars earlier this season.
“There are three levels of teams. The ones that know they’re good, the ones that know they’re not so good, and the ones that are on the fence,” Burchard said. “We’re just fence riding.”
While unable to pinpoint why his team can’t play a consistent forty minutes, Burchard placed some of the blame on himself.
“I just am incredibly disappointed to not get these guys to play at a high level,” he said.