Assistant Sports Editor
It’s fitting that the Winter Olympics start Thursday because the Scranton men’s basketball team is skating on thin ice.
After a heartbreaking Senior Day loss against Juniata College on Saturday, the Royals find themselves on the bubble for a Landmark Conference playoff berth.
Scranton (10-11 overall, 6-4 conference) sits tied with Catholic University (12-9, 6-4) for the fourth and final spot in the playoffs with four regular season games remaining. This Saturday’s home matchup against the Cardinals is a must-win.
“We’re at a point where we kind of need to win out for us to have a good chance at third or fourth, and that’s something I think we can accomplish,” senior guard Ethan Danzig said.
The 6-foot-5 captain is having his best season, averaging 15.2 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. Danzig is likely a future Wall of Fame inductee with over 1,000 points and the program record for career 3-pointers on his resumé.
Senior forward Drew Schankweiler is also seeing career highs. in scoring (12.9) and rebounds (9.7) in his final season. He had been in the shadows of premiere post players for years before taking on an increased role, and he has been a stalwart in Scranton’s interior.
With three other seniors and a surplus of talented underclassmen, this roster has no shortage of experience. The Royals are excellent scorers, but they are not creating enough opportunities to score, turning the ball over 14.5 times per game.
“We have a problem with just making it really hard on ourselves to win games sometimes, and right now we’re just turning the ball over a lot,” Danzig said. “We can run up and down and make shots and play with any team, but if we don’t take care of the ball we’re not going to win any games, and it’s been addressed.”
Winning home games is paramount to any team’s success in the Landmark. Since they dropped their last two home contests to playoff contenders, the Royals are in danger of missing the Landmark playoffs for the first time ever.
But being on the bubble does not mean eliminated, and the Royals are no strangers to overcoming adversity.
Multiple players missed significant time due to injuries. In fact, the Royals hardly have been able to use all five seniors on the court at the same time.
“We started off slow, but I think we really found ourselves right before conference started with that win against Ursinus,” Danzig said. “And we had two starters hurt to start the year, so that never really helps.”
After that slow start dropped them to 2-8, the Royals won their next 6 games and proved they can still compete.
The Royals hit the road to face current Landmark No. 1 Drew Thursday at 7 p.m. Danzig posted 30 points in an 84-73 victory in Scranton’s last matchup against Drew on Jan. 24.