Jerry Buccilla was blunt Tuesday night after watching his Tiffin University Dragons lose to Ferris State.
The first-year coach could look at the stat sheet, and see that his team let the Bulldogs get 16 offensive rebounds. He could read about how the Dragons allowed Ferris State 24 second-chance points, which doubled TU's total.
He could see that his team committed 18 turnovers. But Buccilla didn't need a stat sheet to tell him why the Dragons fell to 5-4, 1-3 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Tiffin’s Joe?Graessle goes up for a basket in the middle of a crowd of Ferris State defenders during Tuesday’s game at the Gilmor Center.
He knew why.
"They played harder than us, wanted it more than us," Buccilla said after the 84-81 loss. "They took the ball away from us four or five times, they took it right out of our hands. They just wanted this more than us."
Tiffin had leads throughout much of the first half, and led 53-50 at one point in the second half. But the Dragons were done in by an inability to contain Ferris State center Jared Stolicker.
The 6-foot-10 senior made 8 of 11 baskets, finishing with 18 points and eight rebounds. He helped the Bulldogs hold a 43-36 rebounding edge. The offensive rebounding especially was big.
"It's something we work on, so I guess they say you're good at what you concentrate on, so it showed today," Ferris State coach Andy Bronkema said. "But we weren't sure that was going to be the case. Tiffin's very athletic and physical, so I give our guys credit for really pounding the glass and grabbing a few of them."
Tiffin was led by Joe Graessle, who had 27 points, five rebounds and four assists.
But Buccilla said the numbers didn't mean it was a great game for his star.
"Joe made some shots, but there's too many times - this is his team, and it's not about his points, it's about this team winning," Buccilla said. "There was a few times in the second half, where I felt he was more concerned about trying to make something happen way too quick, instead of ensuring that his team got the best shot, and we scored on the possession."
Khaleal McCormick had 17 points, six rebounds and two steals for Tiffin, but his game also came with a troubling stat: five turnovers. Ashton Khan had nine points and six rebounds, but he had six miscues.
McCormick and Khan have both been playing the point at times. Between them, they had five assists and 11 turnovers.
"You cannot win a game against a good team with that ratio from your point guards," Buccilla said. "They struggled getting the ball to the wings, they struggled getting it to the offense. It's not all their fault. Our guys did not work to get themselves open on the wings. We were being lazy, and that contributed to them not being open."
While Tiffin only lost by three points, the score is a little deceiving. A Mike Boan dunk just before the buzzer capped the scoring.
Boan finished with 15 points, five boards.
Ferris State improved to 4-3, but 4-0 in the GLIAC. Drew Lehman had 16 points for the Bulldogs, while Josh Fleming had nine rebounds to go with 12 points. Matt Poches had 13 points and eight assists.