Coming off of a spectacular season last year, the NIC men’s basketball team wants to carry that momentum into the upcoming season this year. Basketball Coach Corey Symons said that the entire coaching staff and team want to keep the momentum, but not the pressure.
“It’s tough to keep going after a season like last year, because going undefeated is pretty unheard of,” Symons said.
Despite this, Symons emphasized that having high hopes and wanting to do as well as last year is good.
“It pushes them, it gives them a goal,” he said.
Last year the team thrived on offense with crowd favorites Braian Angola-Rodas and Brayon (BJ) Blake, averaging 25 points a game each. These unstoppable players have set a high bar for the upcoming season and new players.
“Last year, coming off of the best season in school history, it’s pretty tough to do that two years in a row,” Symons said. “We’re going to try, and we’re going to work our tails off to do it.”
This year is a different team and they are going to play a different game. What the team wants to do improve this year, though, is to play a better defense.
“Last year we tried to start off the year as a good defensive team, and we were. But then we got to the point where offensively, we were so good that we were scoring 100 points a game,” Symons said. “(Defense) didn’t matter because we would just go and outscore teams… I don’t think we are capable of doing that this year, putting up as many points, so we want to really focus on the defensive end and try to stop teams.”
Fans will be happy to see returning players Sam Dowd and Zaequan (Ziggy) Satterthwaite. And these players will hopefully bring winning energy to the team this year.
“They both are really high energy guys, play really good defense, get after it and hold each other accountable,” Symons said. “It will be good for them to kind of lead us.”
Fans should also keep an eye out for new players such as Jaylen Burkett, who is high energy and can rebound the ball well, and Neko Bevens, who Symons said shoots the ball really well.
The Cardinals want to focus on playing at a high level all of the time this season. Coming into the first game of the season, Symons wants the main goal to be to keep that high level of intensity no matter who they play.
“If we can get into the habit of doing that, we should be pretty good,”Symons said. “It should be a fun year for us.”
The NIC men’s basketball team is currently ranked 18th in the nation for two year schools, and their first game of the season will be at a tournament at Portland Community College on Nov. 11.