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  • Writer's pictureJorie Allen

Men's Wheelchair Update - Mid February Rankings

1.University of Arizona

Arizona is coming down the stretch with a spotless record, but the squeaky-clean loss column did not come easy. The Wildcats played some nail biters in late January coming out on top against Auburn (76-73), Alabama (64-60), and Illinois (88-78). Against Alabama, Justyn Newman put up 23 points, Tyrone Griner had 14, and Benjamin Thornton added 12. A comfortable win over UWW (86-59) shows Arizona is still a dominant force in the league. As does the fact that the team is currently ranked #26 in CBT's Domination Rankings of all college teams of all levels. The Wildcats look to continue their win streak heading into the final weeks of regular season play.

2.University of Alabama

Alabama went 3-1 in their January tournament, beating Illinois, UWW, and Auburn. In the 58-44 win over Illinois, Ignacio Ortega had an impressive double-double with 22 points and 19 rebounds. Tim Houston added 13 points for the Crimson Tide.

Bama’s only loss in that tournament came from topped ranked Arizona. In that game, Ortega had 21, Houston had 14, and Peter Berry chipped in 11.

Head Coach Ford Burttram is happy with his team’s performance so far. “I think we are on track for continued improvement and peeking at the right time of year. We are a very close-knit group and have improved chemistry both on the court and off the court. I look forward to seeing how this team finishes the season,” Burttram said.

3.University of Illinois

After a hot start to the season, the Fighting Illini suffered some tough losses in January, but Head Coach Matt Buchi is focusing on the positive.

“This 22-23 season has been a special one for us. We have a large group of seniors that are playing their last season as student-athletes. We really had a great start in Wisconsin-Whitewater with a focus on hard-nose, menacing defense. After some losses in Alabama, we are still working on finding good line-ups to get the ball in the basket consistently.

“I think we are exactly where we want to be to make a run at a National Championship. Coaching these talented young men is always such a privilege for me and I am proud of the individuals they have become over their time at Illinois,” Buchi said.

In their senior night win over UWW on February 11th, senior Willy Moronchuk put up a 32-point triple double giving his home court a sweet goodbye.

4.University of Texas-Arlington

The Movin’ Mavs dominated Auburn twice this past weekend with two 20-point victories. Thought they have not seen the floor as much as other teams in the league, UTA is a historically good program and will be a threat with the national tournament on the horizon.

5.Auburn University

The Auburn Tigers played a lot of ball in January going 0-3 against Arizona, UWW, and Alabama on the 20th and 21st. Auburn added tallies in the win column on the 27th and 28th going 2-2, splitting with Mizzou and UWW after playing each team twice.

Losses against UT Arlington on February 4th and 5th leave the Tigers hungry for wins, the team still celebrated that weekend. On February 5th, Junior Evan Heller scored his 1000th career point.

“This milestone means a lot to me because not many players get to achieve (1,000 points). I can’t thank my teammates and my coach enough. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. War Eagle!” Heller said.

Head Coach Robb Taylor is excited to see what this group can do in back half of this season.

“We are in the middle of a five-weekend stretch of games right now that is a great challenge for our team. In different games we will need guys to step up. We can’t look for just one high scorer. This will be a great opportunity to work on our team depth,” Taylor said.

The War Eagles defeated Edinboro and UWW and lost to Illinois on February 10th and 11th.

6.University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (UWW)

UWW played two games against tough competition in January, losing to powerhouse Arizona and tough-nosed Alabama. Against Alabama, Jeromie Meyer had 14 points, Thomas Oberst had 12, and Talen Jordan added 10. With two wins over Mizzou and one win over Auburn, UWW

7.University of Missouri

Mizzou gave wheelchair basketball fans a show with close games on January 28th. A 77-73 loss to UWW and a 65-64 upset over Auburn leaves this team in the middle of the pack heading into the late season.

8.City University of New York (CUNY)

CUNY had a perfect collegiate debut in January, going 4-0 as the tournament host. With two wins over Edinboro and Eastern Washington respectively, they’ll look to take on more conference opponents in February and shake things up at nationals.

9.Southwest Minnesota State (SMSU)

The Mustangs did not meet any conference opponents in the month of January, but contests against professional wheelchair basketball teams have kept them sharp and ready for their next collegiate opponent.

10.Edinboro University

Edinboro earned their first conference wins of the season on January 20th and 21st with decisive wins over Eastern Washington.

“I see continued growth every day in practice and competition,” Head Coach Jim Glatch said. “This past tournament we went 2-2 and could have gone 4-0. We are still making little mistakes that are to be expected of a young team.

“This team is a really tight knit group, so I know that they will only get better.”

The Fighting Scots lost two tough games to Illinois and Auburn and picked up a win by forfeit against UWW at the Illinois tournament this past weekend. Edinboro will host UWW, Missouri and SMSU on February 17th and 18th.

11.Eastern Washington University (EWU)

EWU went 0-4 in late January, dropping two games each to CUNY and Edinboro. The Eagles struggled to put points on the board, but they’ll have the opportunity to win some games when they travel to the Arizona tournament on February 24th and 25th.

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