The Truman State University men’s basketball team returned to the court from quarantine last week, winning two games and bringing the conference record to 12-1.
Guard and forward Elijah Hazekamp had standout games both nights as he scored his first college career double-double, leading the team with 18 points and 15 rebounds against the Greyhounds.
“I thought we responded pretty well because it could have been really easy to make an excuse for not playing well from having that break and being rusty,” Hazekamp said. “But we just came out and did what we know we can do.”
Hazekamp said the games were important for the team because it was the first time back from quarantine, which means competitors were watching.
Hazekamp credited his success in both games to his teammates and an extra dose of aggression from the redshirt sophomore.
Guard Turner Scott was one of those players setting up the team for success, setting a new career high of 12 assists against UIndy.
Hazekamp said with forward Alex McQuinn out at the moment, he’s been stepping up to grab more rebounds.
Hazekamp added that in some ways, the team is slightly out of shape as a result of the two-week break. For some players, he explained, there was no access to gyms to conduct regular workouts and conditioning. Additionally, some players became sick with COVID-19 after being exposed, which means they have to work to regain strength and mid-season form.
Hazekamp said the single practice the team had before the UIndy game wasn’t too different from a regular practice.
The strategy, Hazekamp said, was to keep rotating Bulldogs onto the court, providing time for the starting lineup to rest and avoid getting winded.
This season, Head Coach Jeff Horner said the team has depth, making these quick switches easier to pull off.
“We all have the right mindset,” Hazekamp said. “We took that two week quarantine as just a little mental break because the season is pretty draining sometimes, but I think it did do some good for us, and we’ll just stride through the rest of the season and continue right where we left off.”
The Bulldogs now face three games in just five days. Hazekamp said the team is looking to stay healthy and avoid injury with such frequency of play.
As the GLVC Tournament approaches, Hazekamp said the ’Dogs are starting to prepare for the added pressure.
“These games coming up will be a good representation of the tournament because with the tournament you’re playing back-to-back days or every other day, so that will be something good for us,” Hazekamp said.
The men’s basketball team plays again at 7 p.m. Thursday at the University of Illinois-Springfield.