Tops concerned by rise in turnovers

Junior guard Ken Brown saves a ball from going out of bounds under Memphis’ basket Saturday night at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tenn., December 4, 2010. WKU lost 77-61.

Zach Greenwell

Senior forward Sergio Kerusch said it’s “back to the lab” for WKU after Saturday’s loss to Memphis.

The Toppers are probably hoping there’s a cure for the turnover-bug somewhere in that lab.

WKU (3-5) turned the ball over 20 times against the Tigers, including 16 in the first half, giving it 61 turnovers in its last three games. The Toppers also had 16 turnovers in the first half last Wednesday at Vanderbilt.

“It’s just glitches,” Kerusch said. “Everybody’s trying to find their role, and at the same time, we have young guards. We just have our guards trying to find their place in our offense. It was a hard-paced and a fast-paced game, and we had a lot of turnovers early.”

The turnovers were fast and furious for WKU in Memphis, as the team racked up six before five minutes had been played.

Head Coach Ken McDonald said that put the Toppers behind the eight ball faster than expected, and it also created what turned out to be an insurmountable 16-point deficit at halftime.

“You can’t allow teams to come out and be that confident after eight minutes because of us shooting ourselves in the foot,” McDonald said. “That’s stuff that we can control. As we learn that over time, we’re going to be better.”

McDonald said he was embarrassed after WKU’s loss to Vanderbilt because the turnovers were coupled with a lack of effort. He seemed more frustrated than ashamed after the 77-61 loss to Memphis, mainly because a rash of hustle plays were spoiled by “careless turnovers.”

The Toppers had 25 offensive rebounds in the game, but that translated into just 21 second-chance points. They took seven charges but shot 31.5 percent from the field.

“There was definitely more effort,” McDonald said. “The guys did some really good stuff in terms of energy … but you go into the half with 16 turnovers, and you’re spotting the team points.”

The Toppers have had a flurry of turnovers come very quickly.

WKU averaged 15 turnovers per game through its first five contests and had a season-low nine miscues in a loss to Davidson in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.

Since then, WKU’s averaged more than 20 turnovers in losses to South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Memphis.

“This is a game that we pretty much lost for ourselves,” senior forward Steffphon Pettigrew said after the Memphis loss. “Having 16 turnovers in the first half — you can’t have 16 turnovers against a team like this.”

Wednesday’s game at Bowling Green State will be as good a chance as any for the Toppers to break out of their funk.

The Falcons have won just one game this season and lost six straight. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.

Although BGSU doesn’t look too formidable on paper, Kerusch said WKU is in no position to walk into a game overconfident. He said the Toppers are trying to wipe away all turnovers flashing in their minds, but there’s a lesson to be learned from the way they spoiled good effort at Memphis.

“I can’t get on the bus and feel good about a loss,” Kerusch said. “I don’t believe the team’s mentality can feel good about a loss because we’re a winning program, and we want to win. I just think we’re going to take this knock on the chin, go back into the lab … and play our hearts out.”