Today: May 25, 2024

Basketball expects big things out of new recruits

Mark Tillotson – Staff Writer

Coming off of a 14-13 record, the SCSU men’s basketball team has added two Hamden residents who can make solid contributions this season. Freshman forward Lucas Van Nes will team up with freshman guard Deshawn Murphy to help the team improve its record from last year.

Photo Courtesy |
Deshawn Murphy, a 6’4 freshman guard.
Photo Courtesy |
Lucas Van Nes, 6’10 freshman forward.

Van Nes, a 6’10 forward who is originally from England, has only been playing basketball for about four years and is still developing his game. Murphy, a guard, is a transfer student from Lehigh University where he played wide receiver for the football team. He still has four years of basketball eligibility left since he didn’t play at Lehigh.

He said he chose to attend Southern because of the love and encouragement he has received from his local community.

“Playing at home, you get much more support,” said Murphy. “For me, expectations were already very high because I was supposed to go to Yale.”

Van Nes credits coming to Southern to the coaching staff and the way they sold him on playing basketball for them. This, along with the school’s proximity to home, was a deciding factor.

“They called me a lot and really seemed interested in me,” said Van Nes. “I was excited and anxious to see what they had to offer.”

Van Nes, like Murphy, was also recruited by Division I schools which were much further away from home, which he said he was not too fond of.

“I was offered a scholarship to the University of Maine, but it’s too far away and it just didn’t seem appealing to me,” he said.

Now that Murphy and Van Nes are members of Owls basketball, they share similar goals for the upcoming season. They want to win, and they want to do it in impressive fashion. Murphy said he will do anything in his power to get his team to a championship game.

“Anything less than a championship is a disappointment, so we need to play our best and prepare to do the necessary things to win,” he said.

Head coach Michael Donnelly said his team will be much improved from last year and that he is really looking forward to improving on last year’s record.

“We brought in a very good recruiting class and we returned our starting five players,” Donnelly said. “We’re bigger, stronger, and faster than we were last year so I think we can be very good.”

The Owls will be a very different team than they were just a year ago. Last year, they lacked the necessary size to really challenge teams down on the block. This year, Van Nes will look to fill that void for the Owls and really make teams defend the paint. At 6’10, the freshman comes in as the tallest player on the team by three inches.

Donnelly said he thinks that a big man is exactly what his team needed.

“We can now throw the ball down low and play inside because now we have that inside presence,” Donnelly said.

The inside-out game can get many open looks for Murphy, who likes to shoot the three ball. However, he said his versatility is what separates him from many other players.

“I can shoot the three, play defense, and do anything else that it takes to win,” he said. “I work extremely hard and I like to lead by example.”

Other than the two Hamden natives, Coach Donnelly believes freshmen forwards Stefon Williams and Jack McCarthy will also be steady contributors this season. Williams is 6’7 and McCarthy is 6’6’’. Both will add even more height to the roster and help wash away the Owls biggest problem last year: their size.

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