With conference play around the corner, Rod Barnes admits he's growing increasingly concerned with his team's inability to close tight games.
After another tough loss to Idaho Saturday, a 76-70 overtime defeat in which it squandered a six-point lead with under 2:30 to play, the Cal State Bakersfield men's basketball team enters late December with a 4-8 record.
The loss dropped CSUB to 0-4 in games decided by single digits and each loss has produced a different type of disappointment.
A double-overtime defeat to South Dakota State was created by a missed rotation on defense that allowed the Jackrabbits to hit a tying 3-pointer with under a minute to play. The Roadrunners then allowed seven dead-ball rebounds in a Dec. 3 game against UC Santa Barbara, which helped pave the way for a 64-60 loss.
Defensive breakdowns also put CSUB in a bind Saturday. Barnes was particularly disappointed with a foul that was committed on a driving Scott Blankey, who converted a layup and a free throw that got the Vandals within a point with 1:27 to play.
"It's been different things. It's been different plays that have affected us," Barnes said. "We're not doing the little things and that's what bothers coach Barnes at the end of games."
With just three games left before the start of WAC play, Barnes says the pressure is mounting to correct the late-game issues.
"We've got to grow and develop in closing games," he said. "We haven't done that. Some of that's on (the players) from the standpoint they've got to believe in themselves, but also with our coaches. We've got to do a better job.
"Just as a team overall, we've got to do a better job...finishing games. We're not where I would like to be at this point of the season."
The 'Runners will look to rebound starting with a Thursday home game against 6-4 Montana State.
The Bobcats are led by all-purpose guard Harald Frey, who leads the team in scoring at 16.6 points per game and is second in the Big Sky Conference averaging 5.5 assists. Despite standing just 6-foot-2, Frey also pulls down 5.4 rebounds per contest.
"He's going to be probably one of the best guards that we'll see this year as far as...shooting the basketball, passing the basketball, rebounding the basketball," Barnes said off Frey. "He's the type of guy that can take over a game."
Barnes is hopeful that guard Cam Allen (back) and center Shawn Stith (ankle) will be able to play big minutes after recent injuries have limited their availability. Allen has played just nine minutes in the last two games, while Stith didn't play at Idaho.