With 10 seniors on the roster, Emerson’s men’s basketball team plans to use their familiarity and experience on the court to their advantage this season.
The Lions finished last season 11-14 overall and 5-9 in conference play, which was good enough to get them into the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference tournament. But for the second straight year, the men fell to Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the first round. In the loss, the team shot 34.8 percent from the field, which is one of the issues the men began addressing even before their first practice.
“Over the summer, guys really bought into working on their games,” Jack Barrett, associate head coach, said. “Everyone came back in better shape and a little stronger, which should really help us on both ends of the court. I’ve already seen a lot of improvement from the guys that we already have making shots.”
In all but three of the Lions’ losses last season they were also out-rebounded. With height as a spot of concern over the offseason, freshmen Mac Sashin and Will Lantier who stand at 7-foot-1 and 6-foot-11 respectively were brought in.
“[Sashin and Lantier] are two beasts on the inside,” senior guard Tyson Hallowell said. “They have very bright futures ahead of them.”
Head coach Bill Curley said his team isn’t going to change their offense despite the additions, but rather use them to complement what they already do well.
“We want to run,” Curley said. “I am hoping we can get them to rebound to help us run and if we’re not running, we’ll be able to pound it in because these guys are big.”
Senior guards Michael Thorpe and Mike Corcoran along with senior center Austin Pinckney have been named the Lions’ captains for the upcoming season.
“They’re three great ball players and excellent leaders,” Hallowell, a communication studies major, said.
Curley has expanded the Lions’ roster by two spots for the second straight season, which bumps it up to a 19-man squad. Sophomore guard Michael Sheng said the crowded bench works to the team’s benefit more times than not.
“Not everyone can play but everyone wants to play,” Sheng, a visual and media arts major, said. “Everything is much more competitive because everyone wants to be within about the first 10 spots.”
Along with carrying the most players in the conference, the club will also have the most seniors, with 10 of 19 players in their last season. Hallowell said that is what sets this team apart from others.
“It’s super important to have that,” Hallowell said. “During those winter months when it starts getting difficult, you need guys who know how to compete and know how to win and definitely we have done that. It’s just a matter of getting the job done.”
Barrett said he sees the seniors’ maturity as this group’s biggest strength this season.
“They allow us to do a lot more on both sides,” Barrett said. “Some of these kids have been running the same plays for four year so they pretty much know what we’re expecting of them.”
The Lions will take to the court for their first regular season game on Nov. 13 against Emmanuel College in the Coaches vs. Cancer Greater Boston Shootout held at Regis College.
“They’re always going to be tough,” Curley said. “We played them in the [Great Northeast Athletic Conference] when we were there. They throw a bunch of zones at you and presses; it’s just going to be a real good battle for us to open the season, especially since we have no film on what they’re doing.”
Emerson has had recent success against Emmanuel, beating them in four straight match-ups dating back to 2012. Barrett said he expects a good battle this year.
“[Emmanuel] is going to play fast-paced and have a lot of guys who will be capable scorers,” Barrett said. “They’ll be smaller than us so hopefully we can take advantage of our size a little bit.”
Curley said that he only sees one possible way this team gets held back from taking off this season.
“Our biggest obstacle is ourselves,” Curley said. “You get to a point where you get too comfortable with what you are and sometimes they mistake activity for achievement, they have to get to work every day instead of taking the shortcuts. But at the end of the day, it’s the little things that are going to get you up there.”
Hallowell added that he feels a sense of urgency with this being so many of the squad’s final year.
“Every year the goal is to improve,” Hallowell said. “But being as old as we are, we want to win the NEWMAC Championship and definitely compete for a top-four spot throughout the year. I think this is the best we’ve been.”