By Jimmy Kelley
The road can be a lonely place, but for the Springfield College men’s basketball team, the seven-game road trip they began the season with has been fruitful in more than just one way.
The Pride opened their home schedule on Thursday with a 64-49 over Trinity at Blake Arena to improve to 7-1 in the early going. As tough as road trips are, sophomore Josh Altman believes it has helped them grow as a team.
“It’s really helped us get closer,” said Altman. “The bus rides are long but we make it as fun as possible.”
Springfield played seven games in three states during that stretch, playing in tournaments at Bridgewater and Westfield State University and winning road contests at Keene State (N.H.) and Lyndon State (Vt.).
A product of a rotating schedule, coach Charlie Brock understands the way it works, but doesn’t necessarily like it.
“I’d rather not play seven games on the road,” said Brock. “But we always play a tip-off tournament away and the Pioneer Valley Classic was away so that’s four road games right there.”
Blake Arena was packed with fans eager to get their first look at one of the better teams Springfield has had in years. Parents, brothers, sisters and friends were in attendance and the Pride did not disappoint.
Home court is a funny thing. It can elevate some players for the better, but for some the atmosphere can be a bit too much.
“I went in and told them before the game that it was going to be very exciting and that maybe they would try to show off their individual skills instead of their execution as a team,” said Brock. “You can get carried away, but I thought we did a good job of going out and not doing that and playing in front of our home people.”
A 9-5 start by Trinity may have had the Pride on their heels, but they managed to turn the home court crowd into an advantage with a 14-0 run that effectively ended the game. Tails between their legs, the Bantams went home to a state that Springfield has avoided thus far: Connecticut.
The Pride’s home stand would be a short one, playing just one more game – a loss to Williams two days later – before heading back on the road for two more games before the close of the semester. Where many teams would have burnt out or folded, Brock’s boys did the opposite and stayed strong throughout the trip.
“You get used to it,” said Altman of life on the road. “The first couple games were kind of rocky but we were able to turn it around.
“It’s been great [to be home]. We’ve just been on the road and everyone was psyched to be home in front of our fans and in our gym.”
With the New Year come new challenges, but also a home-heavy schedule that should be a welcome change for these road warriors. Five of the Pride’s first six games in January will take place at Blake Arena.