Since the fourth game of the season in late November, the team has been without a full roster due to injuries and illnesses. Head Coach Hank Smith said at least two players have been out consistently since that time.,With the season entering its final weeks, the Emerson men's basketball team is getting healthy at just the right time.
Since the fourth game of the season in late November, the team has been without a full roster due to injuries and illnesses. Head Coach Hank Smith said at least two players have been out consistently since that time.
As the Lions prepare for Saturday's game against Norwich University, the last before the Great Northeast Athletic Conference playoffs, all 13 athletes are recovered, training and ready to compete.
"We have a stronger team now because we have these kids back," Smith said. "We are a better team because of the adversity we faced and the positive attitude we had."
Throughout the four months the season has been in session, at least five players have missed games. Freshman guard Tom Messinger fractured his collarbone during a match against the University of Massachusetts, Boston, benching him for nine games.
"We are a little out of sync since the team adapted well without us in the lineup," said Messinger, a marketing communication major. "They have been very supportive and we are physically and mentally prepared for anything that comes our way."
Messinger sat alongside sophomore guard Tim McGhee, who broke his thumb in practice, and sophomore forward Bryan Rouse, who broke his foot playing basketball on vacation.
"We had about two kids out most of the time," Smith said. "It was disappointing but they still came to practices and did whatever they could."
Despite the time missed by some key players, the Lions have outlasted the adversity. The team is 21-3 (14-3 in the GNAC), with the playoffs beginning on Tuesday. Joe Boylan, one of the team's three captains along with fellow seniors Will Dawkins and Ben Chase, said the season has been about recovering from the setbacks the team has faced.
"It has always been about getting back to where we were," said Boylan, a senior writing, literature and publishing major. "We have had injuries but everyone is healthy and back on the same page."
Smith, who has been coaching the Lions for 14 years, has led teams to two GNAC wins in 1997-98 and 1998-99. This year, Smith will be looking to add a third title.
"There is no special goal except to continue to play well and hopefully win every game," Smith said. "The players are good, they play hard and are disciplined."
In his final year with the team, Boylan is looking for his first GNAC title. However, he said that he feels this year's team has a good shot to run the table in the playoffs, mainly due to the camaraderie between players.
"This has been the best team I have ever been a part of, record wise and team wise," Boylan said. "Every guy on the team gets along and wants to win. Its rare when you can get a group of guys like that."