DAVENPORT, Iowa — John Windham was quick to say it.
Friday night was a step back for his Muscatine basketball team.
“We’re not doing the stuff we need to do,” Windham said. “You call things we need to do and guys decide to do their own thing. That’s not how things are done.”
After doing the right things in the first quarter led to a one-point lead, Muscatine was outscored by 19 the rest of the way in a 55-37 road loss to Davenport West on Friday night.
After struggling to handle pressure defenses in the first nine games, Muscatine showed strides in that area in the first quarter on its way to an 11-10 advantage. The Muskies (0-10, 0-6) calmly worked through the Falcons' pressure defense to create open layups more often than not.
However, the next three quarters looked much like the first nine games for Muscatine.
“When teams put pressure on us we don’t know how to react, and we work on it every day in practice,” Windham said. “We become deer in the headlights so-to-speak. We just sit and watch and hope the guy who’s trapped can do something with the ball.”
Still, the Muskies hung close to the Falcons (3-6, 2-6) in the first half and trailed just 23-17 heading into the locker room.
But, the combination of Davenport West periodically switching between a 2-3 zone, 1-3-1 zone and a pressure defense combined with the attacking of Malik Westerfield and Jamil Haymond proved to be too much for the Muskies to handle.
Haymond racked up a game-high 18 points.
Davenport West scored the first eight points of the second half. It took five minutes for the Muskies to score a point in the quarter, which finally came on a layup by Josh Dieckman, who led the team with 11 points.
“We’re very inexperienced,” Windham said. “We don’t know how to handle certain situations. They changed up their defenses, and we just didn’t know how to react to it. The thing is, we’re 10 games in but the other team has seniors. They have that experience of being in the varsity game.
“Our juniors and seniors are learning on the fly.”
Muscatine pulled back within 11, 34-23, late in the quarter but Davenport West ended the period on an 11-0 run to put the game out of reach. From there, Windham trotted out every player on his roster while searching for answers.
“We were trying to see who wants to come in and play hard,” Windham said. “I thought Brady McDaniel played hard, and I thought Sean Brown came in and played hard.”
Still, the Muskies labored to score. Windham says he’s looking for more ball movement from his team to find open shooters. That happened at times in the first half but on too many occasions, Windham says, his team didn’t make the extra pass or passed up open shots to drive and get a shot blocked by Davenport West’s Aldane Barrett.
“They break down,” Windham said. “They don’t understand just make one extra pass. That’s the stuff we’re trying to get.”
However, the Muskies did get a late spark from senior Nate Diercks, who Windham calls “our instant offense.” Diercks scored all 10 of his points in the fourth quarter, but the game was well out of reach at that point.
“The better teams in the conference have more than one or two guys who can put the ball in the hole,” Windham said. “Hopefully somewhere down the road, not this year, maybe next year or the year after, we start having those three to five guys who can put the ball in the hole.”