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After losing its fifth game in six, Phoenix Rising coach Rick Schantz admitted that everything — including himself — must be evaluated as the club looks to stop the skid.
A poor Saturday performance against Memphis 901 saw Rising remain in 11th place in the conference. Results elsewhere mean that Phoenix is now closer in points to last place in the West than the playoff line.
“Right now, it’s about evaluating everybody, myself included,” Schantz said. “The staff, the players, you know, we all have to look at everything. Have we made some decisions in the offseason on different things that we did or didn’t do for the team? We really have to start evaluating everything and keep moving forward. We can’t put our heads down.”
Once again, Rising came out sluggishly against Memphis. That matches up with an overall trend for Phoenix, which has conceded first in seven of the last nine matches.
“Our problem right now is we’re not up for the fight in the first 15 minutes,” Schantz said. “You have to earn the right to play. Then, once the game settles down, we’re really good, but we’ve got to get tougher and we’ve got to get meaner.”
Rising still has yet to nurse its squad back to full fitness. Channing Chasten returned to action against Memphis, but Niall Dunn and Arturo Rodriguez remain out.
Among those who did play on Saturday, some niggling injuries remained. Marcus Epps and Greg Hurst made it through the game without much more than cramping. However, a slightly elongated break until the next fixture should offer them time to return to full strength.
“I think it’ll be really helpful for Greg and Marcus, some of these guys to get a little bit stronger,” Schantz said. “We’ve got to start doing more fitness. We’ve got to get stronger and we’ve got to get tougher. I think everyone at Phoenix Rising expects more.”
Beyond that, Schantz is also looking to his bench to boost the team’s output. Among them are recent arrivals, and those that have simply been overlooked throughout the first half of the year.
“We’re going to have to start giving people more opportunities,” Schantz said. “I thought Lamin [Jawneh] came in, did a really good job. Koze [Donasiyano] was great energy in the second half. He’s got to play like that second half. I thought that Richie [Antwi] again comes on the field and looks like our most dangerous attacking player right now. I think he needs more opportunities.”
Now, Rising is settling in to a slightly longer break than usual. With a string of midweek games ahead on their return, the players have been granted extra time off.
“I think it’s a positive right now,” Schantz said. “All of us have got to get our heads clear. We have to get away from the game for a couple of days.”
Top photo: Eric Glemser
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