CHICAGO - Two players for one position is adding up quite nicely for the Illinois Wesleyan basketball team.
While sharing the off guard spot, seniors Jason Fisher and Mike McGraw have both played key roles in the Titans' 4-0 start.
"Both those guys have elevated their game," said IWU coach Scott Trost, whose No. 1-ranked team meets the University of Chicago today at 3 p.m. in a nonconference game at the Ratner Athletics Center.
Fisher has started all four games and averages 6.0 points in 23 minutes per game. McGraw, who also backs up Adam Dauksas at point guard, is scoring 6.3 points in 19 minutes.
"So far, it's been going pretty well. It's kind of like we pick each other up," said McGraw, a 6-foot-3 native of Litchfield. "If we continue to do that, we help everybody else out and it helps the team."
The 6-2 Fisher said he and McGraw have noticed one of them tends to play well each half of a game.
"For instance, against Wabash I came alive the second half and he had a really good first half," said Fisher, a Delavan native. "We're getting a lot out of the position. It's been really workable for us as a team."
With proven scorers Keelan Amelianovich (averaging 18.0 points), Zach Freeman (17.5) and Dauksas (16.5) around, Trost doesn't need a lot of scoring from his off guard. What he does need from Fisher and McGraw is defense.
"Everyone is going to have a good perimeter player offensively. They both have responded to the challenge as far as being able to guard somebody," said the IWU coach. "They've done that and that will have to continue."
In the absence of senior guard Matt Arnold, who has served four games of an eight-game NCAA suspension, McGraw has proven capable of giving Dauksas a break at point guard.
"It's something kind of new. I played a little point guard in high school and a little here," McGraw said. "When I get the ball in my hand, I feel confident. I'm doing all right with it."
Trost is pleased to see McGraw has committed just two turnovers in 75 minutes of play.
"He's done a good job handling the ball," said Trost. "He's kind of cerebral in the sense he really understands what we're trying to do. He's made good decisions. He's not going to try to do something he can't do."
Something else McGraw and Fisher both can do is shoot. McGraw is 5 of 11 from 3-point range and 8 of 14 overall thus far. Fisher is just 3 of 12 from beyond the arc but was 39 percent on threes last season.
"A lot of attention is given to Adam, Keelan and Zach," Fisher said. "That leaves Mike and I open on the perimeter a lot. We have to knock those shots down."
Chicago had won four of five before a 68-57 loss to Wheaton Wednesday.
"We played horribly at Wheaton. I'm not sure why. I thought we were really flat," Maroons' coach Mike McGrath said. "Before that, we played pretty consistently and pretty hard. We've got good size. We won't be giving up anything size wise (to IWU). We've rebounded well."
Chicago's starters have been 6-7 senior Clay Carmody (11.8 points), 6-3 junior Jesse Meyer (10.0), 6-2 junior Brandon Woodhead (9.3), 6-5 sophomore Nate Hainje (8.8) and 6-8 senior Jason Hicks (8.5).
Hicks averages 6.3 rebounds and Carmody 5.7 to help the Maroons outrebound opponents by 11.4 boards per game.
"They've got some good players, and Mike does a good job with them. I expect a tough, hard-fought game," Trost said. "Carmody is a pretty efficient low post player, and Meyer shoots the ball pretty well."
McGrath scouted Wesleyan's 81-61 victory over St. Xavier Monday.
"I think that's as good of a team as they've had down there. I think they're a little grittier defensive and rebounding wise," McGrath said. "They're good when they run. Their energy level is significantly higher.
"But their experience is showing. They are pretty focused and disciplined. We have to find a way to score and rebound with them."
There will not be a junior varsity game today.