By Gage Nutter
Assistant Sports Editor
Some people like taking on tasks one step at a time, while others prefer to tackle it head on. The freshmen on the Pride men’s basketball team have had no choice but to tackle their transition into the college game head on this season.
Last year the team had eight upperclassmen on their roster along with three freshmen. This year, the team has six freshmen, three sophomores, three juniors, and zero seniors. With six of the 12 players on the team in their first year, the team has had to do a lot of learning together, and as students know, learning in a group can sometimes be more effective, and fun.
“We all have had to grow up fast,” said freshman guard Trey Witter. “There have been pros and cons [to our youth], and I think that has shown this season. The juniors and sophomores have done a really good job showing us the way. Eckles, McNulty, and Diamond have done a great job as captains. Whenever there is something I am worried about or need guidance on something, I know I can go to them. [Stanley Davis] and [Kevin Durkin] have been awesome too.”
There are obviously dozens of differences between the high school game and the college game, but two major factors have stood out to most of the freshmen: size and mental consistency.
“Everyone is much bigger, and you need to keep yourself in the game mentally,” said freshman forward Heath Post. “In college if you take a play off, someone cuts back door, and it is an easy layup. In college you really have to be in the game for 40 minutes.”
Post, as described by head coach Charlie Brock, is a “glue” player. He sets well-timed screens to get his teammates open, makes the extra pass, is a consistent scorer, and is arguably the most vocal player on the court at all times.
“When I am on the court I want to bring energy, I think that is what I am good at,” said Post. “There are so many different things you can do on the court besides scoring that affects the game. You can set a screen, box out, or dive for a loose ball. I think it’s fun to do those things.”
Another player who may not be putting up eye-popping numbers but is definitely making his presence felt is freshman Keegan McDonough.
The outcome for the Pride’s game against Emerson on Jan. 25 was not in doubt for most of the game. The team overpowered the Lions from the opening tip and had the game in control the rest of the way. Someone must have forgotten to tell McDonough. McDonough was laying out for loose balls and playing spectacular off-ball defense late into the contest.
Although the game was decided, he did not let up. Playing with this type of grit is something that McDonough takes pride in.
“I just try to play my hardest every play,” said McDonough. “If I am not putting up great numbers, I want to find a way to affect the game in one way or another. Anything to get a win.”
The freshmen have had to dive headfirst into their college careers this season. With the guidance from their three junior captains, a good work ethic, and phenomenal coaching, they have not stumbled in their development. They have taken off sprinting.