Men's Sports Sports

Springfield men’s basketball ends season on high note at Coast Guard

By Garrett Cote

NEW LONDON – Despite coming up short in many of its preseason expectations, the Springfield College men’s basketball team ended the 2022-23 season with its best performance.

The Pride flushed all of their previous frustrations and set their focus on Saturday afternoon’s season finale against Coast Guard with one goal in mind: go out in style.

Springfield started the game on a 9-0 run and never looked back, defeating the Bears 92-65 to bring its record to 7-18 – one win better than last season’s total of six.

As the final buzzer sounded, it not only represented the end of the game, but it also represented the official end of Mike McClendon’s first season as head coach of the Pride.

“Phew, growing pains,” McClendon said, referring to how he would describe year one. “There was growth, that’s the important part. We progressed enough where we were a better cohesive unit, and we played a lot better as a team and a lot better together as the season went along. It’s tough for the buy-in factor, being a first-year coach with players who have already been here, but we definitely progressed and grew.”

(Photo by Garrett Cote/The Student)

McClendon’s first season at the helm was filled with ups and downs, but there were certainly more low points than high ones. The New Jersey native understands that many aspects could’ve gone a lot differently had he had more time to gel with the group, but he also knows there is no room for excuses to be made.

“I’m a big ‘look in the mirror’ person, I don’t look for other people to blame,” McClendon said. “I learned a lot about myself dealing with a group of players who are different in the sense of what I’m used to coaching. It was an uphill battle, but I think through the process I figured some things out – especially about myself.”

Heading into next season, McClendon knows exactly what is needed to improve on the past two years of underachieving basketball on Alden Street. 

He hasn’t tiptoed around the answer when addressing his team, either. McClendon plans on bringing in a plethora of recruits that can amp up competition levels in practice.

“This is no knock to what we have or who we have coming back, but we need more competition,” McClendon said. “I don’t think we were deep enough. I gotta deepen our bench and get some more guys in here who can compete for playing time, but at the same time when you compete with other people, you’re making yourself better. I want guys who are hungry to compete.”

On Saturday, Springfield said goodbye to graduate students Daryl Costa, Zach Falkenburg and Jack Cowan, while seniors Panayiotis Kapanides and Ty Garry still have the ability to exercise their fifth-year option to come back and play next season. 

First-year forward Josiah Evely led the way with 18 points against Coast Guard, while Kapanides (16 points) and Costa (14 points) were right behind.

Photo: Garrett Cote/The Student

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