From turnovers to empty possessions to "knucklehead plays," Marshalltown Community College men's basketball coach Brynjar Brynjarsson had a laundry list of items his team needs to address.
Despite those deficiencies, the Tigers headman had plenty of positives to take away from another win - many of them stemming from a singular quality he's seen from his squad daily.
"You can't fault the effort. Whether they were mistake-free or not, that's beside the point. The effort was there and that's what I'm happy about and proud of," Brynjarsson said.
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
Marshalltown Community College sophomore Chris Caird, right, battles for a loose ball against NIACC at the Student Activity Center on Tuesday night during the Tigers’ home opener. Caird scored 20 points in the victory for the Tigers.
Burying four triples, Chris Caird scored 20 points and grabbed 14 boards to lead the Tigers (3-0) past NIACC 86-63 in non-conference play at the Student Activity Center Tuesday.
Pouring in 15 of his points in the first half, Caird's third trey capped a 29-9 surge for the Tigers, giving the home team a 38-15 lead with 3 minutes left in the opening frame.
"Chris has a good composure about him. He understands the game and gives us great presence," said Brynjarsson of his second-year forward who had been out of game action for 13 months with a knee injury.
"He's just going to keep getting better, he's not even 100 percent yet."
Chris Davis, who had a game-high 24 points, buried back-to-back 3-pointers and drained a pair of free throws to pull the Trojans (1-1) within 44-28 at intermission. The Trojans trimmed the deficit to 14 but wouldn't draw any closer the rest of the way.
A three-point play and triple from Matej Delinac punctuated a 12-0 run for the Tigers to widen the gap to 56-30 five minutes into the second stanza. One of five MCC players to finish in double figures, Delinac tallied 11 points and five assists.
Limited by foul trouble, Troidell Carter still flirted with a double-double adding 13 points and eight rebounds, while Marlon Williams had 11 points and Rahiem Holloway chipped in 10 points and six assists. Williams' final bucket gave the Tigers' their largest lead at 72-39 with 9:10 to play.
The Tigers' defense forced a six and half minute scoring drought from the Trojans mid-way through the first half, though some miscues at the offensive end kept MCC's lead from ballooning even more.
"We had so many empty possessions offensively, after we play so hard defensively. That's the good news is that we can get better offensively, but the effort is there. We just have to polish some things and we'll be okay," said Brynjarsson.
It was a similar theme for the Tigers in their 64-61 season-opening win over Iowa Central in which both teams struggled but MCC came up with enough hustle plays to earn the victory.
"That's been our bread and butter all year so far. We've got a group of guys that have bought in to everything we've asked them to do. They come out every single day and work their tails off for us," said Brynjarsson.
That work ethic has paid dividends so far, but the Tigers know there's plenty of room for growth.
"It's only the third game. I'm pleased with where we're at, but we've got a long, long ways to go. And they know that too," said Brynjarsson.
The Tigers host Kirkwood Friday with tip-off set for 7 p.m.