Basketball teams embrace new
TNE Editor

Basketball teams embrace new

Published 9/25/17

Valeriia Efimenko

TNE Writer

Both NSU men’s and women’s basketball teams confidently stepped into preseason. Half of the women’s team is new this year. There were six new players recruited, including two freshmen and four transfers. There are also two new coaches and one returning graduate assistant coach. On the men’s side, there were 13 new players brought in, some of them high school transfers, some from junior colleges and some 4-year transfers. The head coach and assistant coach are also new.

“We have a lot of blending styles this year, but what is important is that the team really wants to be successful, have a great year and get this program in a better place in the conference,” said Heidi Messer, NSU women’s basketball assistant coach. “Everybody is ready to work hard and adopt these new styles, and they are ready to be coached, ready to learn because there is a lot of new stuff. It is a whole new style of play compared to what they have done in the past.”

According to NCAA rules, teams are not allowed to spend as much time on the court in preseason, which lasts until Oct.15. Until then, coaches work on getting their players physically ready for the actual season. Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.

“As coaches, we try to make practices harder than actual game situations,” said Nathan Kennedy, NSU men’s basketball assistant coach. “We want them to do drills that are going to put them in a disadvantage, so when they get into the games, it will be easier for them. We try to push our guys to the limits. They have done a good job coming to practice, putting a lot of effort and challenging themselves every single day at practice, conditioning, workouts and weight room. We want them to get to the game and be confident. They do not always bring the same mindset to practice, as they do to the game. Everybody looks forward to the games, everybody likes playing the games, but practice is when you really do your homework and get after it. That is where you become a better basketball player. So, we try to prepare them by making practice tougher. It has been very encouraging this semester.”

The team goals have been set up, and both the men’s and women’s teams are working hard in order to achieve them. Courtney Robinson, NSU women’s basketball graduate assistant, said that the team wants to shock some people this year. They want to be a surprise to other teams and other communities.

“Our expectations are to prove a lot of people wrong,” said Robinson. “We are trying to change the mindset that has been out here lately. We are excited to bring some energy and some fun into the games and communities around us.”

Preseason is one of the hardest seasons, and it is a time when players’ toughness is tested. Preseasons have the highest injury rates compared with in-season periods, and the basketball teams are not an exception.

“The team already looks pretty good and strong,” said Robinson. “They are just fighting some injuries right now, hopefully, nothing too major. All the aches and pains of the preseason that is what they have right now. They are fighting pretty hard through that, and they are coming together really well, like a family.”

Besides the high-intensity training process, coaches make sure their athletes stay on top of their academics. They teach them how to prioritize their time, studies, sleep and nutrition.

“Something off the court, that I feel will help freshmen throughout their college career is time management,” said Jamir Andrews, NSU men’s basketball graduate student. “If you’re able to manage your time as a freshman, it makes the rest of your college career easier. I’m a student-athlete, so for me, grades first and then hoop.”

In addition to preparation, hard work and time management, trust and motivation are other components of successful team.

“Motivating the team starts with trust,” said Kennedy. “We want players to know that we are all into them, so in return they have to trust us with what we are trying to get their roles to be, what their responsibilities are on the floor and off the floor. We put everything that we have into our family. The way we approach it is as a family – I have got your back, you have got my back. We fight for each other, for our teammates, our brothers.”

As a newcomer at NSU, but also as a graduate student with a big experience, Andrews shared a little piece of advice for freshmen on the team.

From the first day we all got along well, and it shows on the court when we play,” said Andrews. “This is, probably, the fastest I’ve gelled with a team before. We play with each other as if we all played together before. I think the ceiling is high for us. Also, something I learned as a freshman on the court, that I think will help to be successful, is to play your game, do what you are good at. Do not try to do things you are not capable of to impress your teammates or your coaches. Just be composed and do what you do well.”

Coaches are trying to rebuild these teams to do better in the conference than they have done previously. They want to increase the amount of their conference wins compared to what they had last year. They are going to take it one day at a time.

“Enjoy the process, enjoy the workouts, the tough times because those are your brothers and those are the guys you are going to the war with, and that is what you are going to miss the most,” said Kennedy. “You are going to miss being part of the team and doing everything together, so enjoy it and do not leave any regrets.”

The first scrimmages of the season are coming up at the end of October. The first home game is at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday Nov. 15 at the NSU Event Center for the women. The men will follow at 7:30 p.m.

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