Men’s basketball team suffers five losses this season
Bobby Martinez – Sports Writer
With five losses heading into their matchup against Assumption College, Owls head coach Michael Donnelly, said those five losses have humbled his team much more.
“The losses that we’ve had,” said Donnelly, “we lost to four really good teams in my opinion and we lost to St. Michaels’ twice. I’m hoping that those losses in the long run will really benefit us. I know this last stretch we had where we lost back-to-back games, really humbled us to be honest. It really caught everyone else’s attention.”
Donnelly added, “We had it rolling, we had one five or six games in a row, we were 13-3 and we felt we were going to get on a roll like we did last year. For whatever reason, we have been a little bit off and it cost us.”
With just three losses last year, the Owls have reached heights that no one would have ever thought they would ever reach. A program that was one the worst D-II programs, elevated to one of the best in the nation since Donnelly and his assistant coach Mike Makubika took over. From 2007-10, the Owls had a combined record of 11-70.
But players like senior All-American point guard Tylon Smith and Luke Houston, have helped Donnelly reach the goal he so desperately wanted to achieve once he got hired: make this program a winning a program. And that he did.
Heading into this season, the Owls were ranked number two in the Nation. Everything was going well in Owl nation heading into the season. But with an early season loss at home to American International College 100-91, the Owls dropped in the rankings and eventually suffered four more losses as the season progressed.
But just like any strong team does, the Owls rebounded immediately and it all started in practice where Donnelly’s team has had a different mentality that has helped them get back on track.
From a coaches perspective, Donnelly said those losses have made him realize that teams can be just as good and it’s up to him to help better prepare his team for each game.
“What has helped me as a coach,” he said, “it brought me back down to earth. Every game is different. But you got to work the same, prepare the same in practice, and that’s how this program has been built because we have been so successful in practice.”
The Owls have been a unique team. A three headed monster at the guard position in Smith, Houston and sophomore Michael Mallory. The type of offense Donnelly runs, which is fast paced, has helped the Owls blow by teams’ majority of the time.
Donnelly acknowledges that other teams are, at times, bigger than his. He stresses to his big men to play hard every possession down low and help the guards out as much as they can because there will be games where shots won’t go in.
Players like junior forward Stefon Williams, sophomore Austin Carter and senior Jose Cruz, lately, have helped the Owls down low with scoring, and have played a major part in some of the Owls close wins.
Williams said in comparison to his first two seasons, he had a mentality coming into this season where he wanted to be much more physical than he has ever been.
“I’m,” said Williams, “trying to be more aggressive than I have been the last two seasons and play my role. From the moment I stepped on campus as a freshman, I have been called the ‘X factor.’ So I have been trying to be just that especially down this final stretch.”
Williams added in regards to the Owls finishing the season on a high note, “During the final stretch we want to keep ourselves in position to win the league. We are one game behind AIC so we want to be in position to secure the regular season title and we play them the last game of the season.”