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Men’s basketball starts season off strong

Chloe Burdette

Sports Editor

For being the winningest NCAA team of the 2000s, The College of Wooster Men’s Basketball team of the 2018-2019 season only knew one way to live up to the achievements of their predecessors — to come out of the gates with a 4-0 record. The squad debuted their season with a 108-100 win against Muskingum University on Wednesday, Nov. 14, followed by a win against Mount St. Joseph on Nov. 17 to finish up the Annual Al Van Wie/Wooster Rotary Classic. Soon after, the Scots tallied two more wins on the road against Hanover with a score of 57-47 on Nov. 20, and against Ohio Northern University with a score of 61-52 on Nov. 25. 

The home opener for the Fighting Scots was not your everyday basketball game. The College had just finished major reconstruction of Timken Gymnasium, and this was the first time that the men’s team was performing in front of a huge home crowd in the new, improved arena. With this in mind, the Scots had an extremely rigorous off-season to come out prepared for a home win. “Our off-season was pretty rigorous and intense,” stated Danyon Hempy ’20. “We had open gyms twice a week, lifting four days a week, and we also did plyometric training twice a week.” Hempy added, “We wanted to make sure our bodies were physically ready for the long season ahead of us, and to start the season strong.” Keonn Scott ’21 was in agreement, stating, “This off-season, each player was sent individual workouts they had to do, and work on their game-skill training as well as weight lifting.” Hard work pays off, as the Scots came through to beat the Muskies by eight points to start the season with a W. 

However, a team cannot just succeed on pure strength. A team needs to communicate and work together efficiently, which is why team chemistry is an important aspect for the Fighting Scots on and off the court. “The team dynamic is great, we all get along great,” stated Hempy. “On the court, our chemistry is unmatched in my opinion, but that comes from our bond off the court. A lot of the guys on the team hang out off the court and it makes for a really strong connection when we’re in between the lines.” Scott harped on the idea of team chemistry, adding, “The team chemistry this year is through the roof. We are playing great team basketball right now. Everyone is touching the ball and is involved, and it’s fun to play with each other early in the season.”

The team knows that although they started the season off strong, they have to maintain their stamina in order to get past their toughest competitors. Outside of their division, the team agreed that Whitman College will be their strongest competitor. Ranked no. 4 in the NCAA DIII standings, the Blues will be the ones to beat. “They [Whitman] are always a top-ranked team nationally and they bring in new players every year that give them a shot at bringing home a national championship. We play them this coming winter in Phoenix,” said Hempy. When focusing on the NCAC, the tough opponent will be Wittenberg. Hempy added, “Wooster and Wittenberg have always had a very intense rivalry and they have a very good returning team. They were picked to win the NCAC this preseason and we were second, so it will be an interesting matchup.”

In order to remain a strong competitor throughout the season, the squad is eager to improve on anything that will hold them back. Hempy knows that the team isn’t perfect. “There are always things we can improve on. Our team defense and offense can always use improvement, and there are also individual things that each of us need to work on to put our team in the best spot possible in order to win. Luckily, everyone has a great work ethic and we all take coaching very well.” Scott added confidently, “The 4-0 start is not surprising because we are a more well-rounded team than last year. We are playing at a much faster pace this year. Because of this we don’t really set goals — we just prepare to go out on the court and take care of business.”

The College of Wooster Men’s Basketball Team look to grab a win on the road against the Hiram Terriers on Sunday, Dec. 1. Next, the Fighting Scots will bring the action back home on Dec. 5 against the Allegheny Gators at Timken Gymnasium. 

(Photo from Wooster Athletics) 

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