OU men's basketball unleashes defensive attack on Spires

Greg Mast
The Ottawa Herald

Defense is not a glorified part of basketball, but necessary to be a consistent winning team.

The Ottawa University men’s basketball team turned a liability into a  strength this season. The Braves have been a defensive juggernaut this season.

Ottawa University senior Juquan Daniels tossed in 15 points, snared six rebounds and dished three assists in the win over Saint Mary

Ottawa has held the past three opponents under 60 points and three others below 70 this season.

The Braves may have had their best defensive effort of the season in the 84-57 win Tuesday over Saint Mary at Wilson Field House.

“That was some really good defense for a pretty long stretch,” Ottawa coach Aaron Siebenthall said. “Saint Mary’s motion is a lot different than we have seen so far this year. I was extremely worried about us guarding. They really move well without the ball. They set a lot of baseline cuts that we have not seen yet. Our guys responded very well.”

Ottawa opened the game taking Saint Mary out of its attack. Ottawa jumped to a 12-4 lead and never looked back.

“That first group set the tone,” Siebenthall said. “It was a good team effort. We used our depth. We kept on them and kept on them.

Everybody stepped up defensively. Everybody was guarding somebody 3 or 4 inches taller than them. We did a good job on their bigs.”

Ottawa rolled to a 50-32 halftime lead and cruised to its seventh win of the season. The Braves continued their share the wealth system on offense. Four players finished in double figures.

Perry Carroll paced Ottawa with 18 points. Jaquan Daniels netted all 15 points in the first half. Joe Johnson III tossed in 14 and Ty Bland added 10.

“We have to share the ball,” Siebenthall said. “They trust each other. If somebody gets hot or if somebody has a mismatch, they will give them the ball. They will trust us to run a play to get them the ball. That means a lot because you can’t play the style we do unless you buy into it 100 percent. That means sharing the ball.

“A lot of it is our unselfishness. We are nine deep. All nine of those guys are capable of leading us in scoring any night. You can’t leave any of those guys open because they will make you pay. It is a lot of fun to coach these guys.”

Ottawa (7-0, 3-0) heads into the holiday playing well.

“It is nice going into Thanksgiving with our record and playing the way we are,” Siebenthall said. “We have a lot of returners back. We have put together 20-, 25-minute stretches of really good basketball.”