Today: Jun 17, 2024

SCSU men’s basketball is ready to take on the season

Jen HofferSports Editor

Just a week and a half into their preseason workouts,  men’s basketball coach, Mike Donnelly said he has a really good feeling about this upcoming season for the team.

“In my 11th year of head coaching, this group is working the hardest of any group that I’ve been around,” Donelly said. “I knew that this was going to happen to our young guys and knew that the guys that we brought in would have excellent work ethic and be very competitive. They meshed well early on.”

What Donnely said really separates this group from past groups is the leadership.

“Our three captains, Luke Houston, Tylon Smith, and Greg Langston, are really providing great leadership,” Donelly said. “I’m really excited from what I see right now and can’t wait to get going in three weeks when we start official practice.”

Junior, Tylon Smith said he is looking to be the best leader possible and making whatever play is needed in order for his team to be successful.

“As a team standpoint to be successful,” Smith said, “we just need to bring it everyday and be ready for any adversity that hits throughout this grind that we are preparing for.”

The team has one game starred on their calander. And although it may only be a preseason game, it is still a huge motivator for the team and the coaches.

“We have a countdown to the pre-game against UConn going,” Donelly said. “I’m reminding the guys how many days we have left. But we use that as a motivator for us.”

Right now the coaches are only allowed two hours on the court with the players.

“We use that time to do grind work,” Donelly said. “It’s really weights, conditioning, sprints and doing a lot of things that challenge them not only physically but mentally too.”

The players have the same mindset as Donelly in regards to putting the effort in.

“Every chance we get we put in a little extra work,” Smith said. “We know that’s a great opportunity for us but we also know we are preparing for more than just competing with UConn.”

Senior guard, Greg Langston has two games he is looking forward to this season; one against UConn and the other against University of Rhode Island.

“It’s exciting to be able to experience these Division I games and it will be a good experience for the entire team,” Langston said. “The guys have been looking great so far. We’re all working really hard, and it’s good to see the freshman players adjusting to college basketball smoothly.”

As a team, Langston said, they’re not only practicing with a sense of urgency for UConn but for the rest of the season.

“We want to be more than ready for everyone in our conference,” Langson said.

The team is working to accomplish something, and Donelly stresses that to the team at every practice that the hard work is not punishment and will benefit the team in the long term.

Junior guard and captain, Luke Houston is also looking forward to the preseason scrimmages.

“It’s going to be a challenge playing against these high caliber teams, but it will definitely prepare us for our up-coming season,” Houston said.

From the practices that the Owls have had so far, Houston said he is very pleased with what he’s seen from his teammates.

“Greg and Tylon have been playing really well,” Houston said. “Stefon Williams came back in great shape so we’re looking forward to having him back on the court. But it’s really the freshmen that are going to help us in practice and help us win some games.”

With their star player Trevon Hamlet graduating last year, Houston said it’s going to take a group effort to replace him.

“I want to work on being a more confident player regarding my abilities this year because I think I can help our team fill this gap.”

Looking back at last years stats, there are some things that Donelly does want to improve on.

“We want to score more,” Donelly said. “We were third in the league of scoring last year with 75 points a game.. But I think in order to score more we need to create more possessions for ourselves and more opportunities for our team.”

Donelly talked a lot to the team this summer about being able to extend their pressure in the full court.

“We haven’t been able to do that since I’ve been here so I’m looking forward to trying that out,” Donelly said.

There were only four teams in their conference of 16 teams that averaged 70-75 points per game.

“If we can increase our scoring that’s going to make it tough for teams to play against us,” Donelly said.

Both Donelly and Smith said that this should be an exciting year for the team.

“I can’t wait unitl we start official practice, this group could have a special year,” Donelly said.

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