Men’s Basketball: Behind a defensive front and Barcikowski’s threes, SU claims Optimist Tournament title

By Lucas McCoy

Staff Writer

The Salisbury University men’s basketball team defeated Johns Hopkins University 74-49 Saturday evening to win the Optimist Classic Tournament. The Sea Gulls improve to 3-0 on the season after two dominant back-to-back performances Friday and Saturday.

The Sea Gulls started off on-fire offensively, opening the game up with a 13-2 run in the first three and a half minutes of play. However, the key of the first half was Salisbury’s defensive efforts.

Salisbury came into the game locked in defensively, holding the Blue Jays to just 16 total points in the first half.

“It was a great effort defensively, I think we responded really well today,” SU Head Coach Andrew Sachs said. “It was a one-day prep for this game, really less than 24 hours, and I think we did a great job paying attention to the walk through and following the game plan.”

Salisbury’s offense took off in the second half with junior forward Chad Barcikowski leading the way with a game-high 25 points. Barcikowski totaled six three-pointers on the day, going 4-5 from beyond the arc in the second half.

“I just came into today with the same mindset, just with confidence and being ready to shoot,” Barcikowski explained. “My teammates give me the confidence I need to just always be ready.”

A big story of the second half was the impressive performance by senior forward Wyatt Smith.  Smith was sidelined all last season due to a shoulder injury, but he looked back to near perfect form in the victory against the Blue Jays.

Smith totaled 19 points, 15 of them coming in the second half varying from hook shots with either hand from inside the paint, to stepping out and making shots from three-point range. The six-foot six-inch lefty also grabbed nine rebounds as well as recording three blocks and two steals, showing his versatility has clearly grown.

“I just wanted to stay aggressive and be confident in the things that I don’t usually do,” Smith said. “Coming off of the surgery was an opportunity for me to use my right hand and to get good at going both directions. The season before last when I played, I was pretty much a dominant left handed player. I just wanted to try to prove I could do both things and be versatile.”

Smith’s 19 points is a season-high for him, and he is quickly becoming the dominant threat he was two seasons ago. Coach Sachs was also very pleased with Smith’s performance against Johns Hopkins University.

“That’s what happens when you work on your game.  When teams take away his left hand and he goes right, he becomes a much better player,” Sachs said.  “Hats off to him for working hard on something he’s not [necessarily] good at.”

The Salisbury University basketball team will look to keep their win-streak alive as they hit the road Tuesday night for their first away game of the season.  The Sea Gulls will take on the Virginia Wesleyan College Marlins on Nov. 22. The Marlins are preseason ranked No. 16 in the nation by D3hoops.com.

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