Assistant Sports Editor
When you’re young you will make mistakes, it is a fact of life. However, when you are young you have plenty of time to improve and learn. With six freshmen and no seniors on the Springfield College men’s basketball team this season there is no doubt there will be some bumps along the road, but there is also a golden opportunity for a young green team, to develop into an in-tune cohesive unit for not only this season, but for potentially seasons to come.
Head coach Charlie Brock, entering his 19th year as head coach for the Pride, not only likes the talent of his team, but the diversity in what they bring to the court as well.
“The nice thing I have found is that everyone on the team is a bit different,” said Brock. “There is no set way that everyone acts. Everyone brings their own skill sets.”
Half of this years team is compiled with freshman, even though it is still the preseason, Brock is happy with what he has seen from them so far.
“We knew we had to recruit a significant number of players that are ready for this level of basketball right away, and I think we did that,” said Brock. “They have adjusted to the college environment very well. In our last scrimmage some of the younger guys showed some great stuff, and we are going to build on that every day at practice.”
With no seniors on the team, one would think that the transformation from contributing sophomore to junior captain would be difficult. Brock is happy to say that is not the case with his captains.
“[Ben Diamond, Brandon Eckles, and Andrew McNulty] have been embracing the role since day one,” said Brock. “They have been totally focused and committed on being good basketball players, good people, and doing what’s in the best interest of the team. Their involvement and desire to be involved has been great to see. They don’t shirk any of the things that are necessary. It has been an easy transformation for them.”
Diamond transferred to Springfield College from Bard College in last year, and it is safe to say his transformation from an underclassmen transfer student to upperclassmen captain has been interesting.
“Just knowing that the younger guys are looking up to me as an example is definitely a role change for me,” said Diamond. “Last year I was a new player in the program and I looked up to the captains, and now one year later I have players looking to me for advice. Just being cognizant of the fact that players look to me as a leader is something that I have to be aware of now.”
With six freshmen, three sophomores, and three juniors on the team, the team is relatively young. There are some obvious negatives in that, but to Eckles, the good outweigh the bad.
“There is definitely a better connection as it pertains to this year’s team,” he said “Just because everyone is only two years apart from each other in age. It is hard to connect with teammates on a personal level when they are much older than you. So I feel that having a young team has really revitalized the program.”
The team is coming off of their first scrimmage of the year against Brandeis University. There were some big positives to be proud of, but there was also some rough spots.
“I think after our first scrimmage there was definitely a lot of positives to take out of it,” said McNulty. “We saw some great things and ran plays the right way, but there was also things that we have to work on and that is what we are trying to do every day in practice.”
With six days to go until the team’s first regular season game against Western New England on Nov. 15, the team chemistry during games isn’t perfect by any means, but that is what practice is for.
“The chemistry is great off the court, but on the court is something we need to work on,” said Eckles. “At this point it is all about trusting the process, and slowly but surely we will get to where we need to be. I think that is going to happen sooner rather than later, because everyone is buying into the same ideology of ‘win the next one’ and playing for the guy next to you.”
Everyone’s goal going into a season is to win as many games as possible. But Diamond wants the team to be known throughout the NEWMAC conference for more than just wins.
“As a team I want us to be the hardest workers in the NEWMAC conference,” he said. “I think that last year we tried to get by on our talent sometimes, but this year I feel like we have the chance to be the hardest working team, and that is something that is really exciting.”
With six historically talented and eager underclassmen, three seasoned junior captains, and one accomplished head coach. This men’s basketball season could be one that is looked back on with great memories and pride.
Gage can be reached on Twitter at @Gage32097