The SVSU men’s basketball team opened up conference play with back-to-back losses at the hands of Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan this past weekend.
The road defeats at the hands of Upper Peninsula opponents dropped SVSU to 2-6 overall for the season.
Against the Huskies, SVSU fell 75-67. Redshirt freshman center Sebastiano Lamonato continued his strong start to the season. Against the Huskies, Lamonato led the team with 16 points and added six rebounds off the Cardinal bench.
“(Lamonato) competed,” head coach Randy Baruth said. “He needs to do that for 40 minutes.”
Another young player, freshman DJ Hoskins, put up eight points, two rebounds and two steals against the league rivals.
“With this being my first college basketball season, things are different,” Hoskins said. “Just getting adjusted to the speed of the game, playing against the best competition every day. It’s a great learning experience.”
Even without the outcome the Cardinals would have wanted, they’re taking a learning stance on the loss.
“Our team competed for a good amount of time. Not score competed, but effort competed,” Baruth said. “With this team, competing with all-out effort is the only way we are going to get better.”
On Saturday, Northern Michigan took down the Cardinals, 86-69.
The Wildcats had the game’s leading scorer in Isaiah Johnson, who put up 29 points, and nine rebounds. After struggling early and heading into halftime down 39-21, the Cardinals played a much improved second half, outscoring the Wildcats, but ultimately fell short to round out the weekend.
Hoskins was key in the second half run, putting up 14 points and five rebounds. Lamonato, a native of Australia, also added 13 points and six rebounds.
Hoskins was complementary of Lamonato and SVSU’s three other Australian-born players. Another Australian player, freshman Liam Evans, added 10 points and three rebounds off the Cardinal bench.
“I think the other players are adjusting well,” Hoskins said. “The Australians are getting better with the pace of the game; they are more confident and stronger than when they first stepped onto campus.”
Saginaw Valley is on a three-game losing streak but has shown signs of strong play as they continue to work on filling the void of players lost from last season.
“We just need to continue to get tougher,” Hoskins said. “Like Coach Baruth said, we have to trust the process. Everything won’t be so great at first. We are looking at longevity. Things can change at the snap of a finger.”
SVSU continues play this week as it hosts Lake Superior State at 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7, and Ferris State at 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9.