Coaches/team captains address season expectations

Head men’s and women’s basketball coaches and team captains discussed strategies, expectations, and pressures the team faces this upcoming season, which begins Oct. 29 with the homecoming challenge against Concordia in the Bruce Hall Gymnasium.

William Anderson, head men’s coach, is entering his 17th season as the leader of the Magicians. Antony Partee, head women’s coach is entering his third season as the Lady Magicians leader.

“Our goal is to be successful, so I can’t say that it’s any pressure on us,” Anderson said. “Maybe no one else thought that we could get to the championship, but we knew that we had a chance. But, I guess now it may be more fans and people that expect us to be in the championship, and again, we don’t look at it as pressure, but as an opportunity that we hope to have again this year and hopefully we can finish it.”

The Magicians are coming off of a 16-15 overall season record, going 10-8 in conference play. They were just short of bringing a championship home to LOC, losing to Stillman College in last year’s finals.

“Being that every team is different, we are going to have to push, encourage, and motivate each other every day,” said Justin Street, men’s team captain. “And with this year’s team, we don’t have a “Big-man” so we are going to have to run the floor a lot.”

Street is one of three Magicians selected to this year’s SIAC Preseason All-Conference team. Teammates joining him are junior forward Rashawn Brown, and senior center Demba Konate.

“As far as strategy goes, we live by the motto: ‘If it’s not broke don’t fix it,’” Anderson said. “We’re really doing a lot of the same things that we did last year in terms of the way we want to play offensively and defensively. Offensively, we want to share the ball and play an up tempo style game. Defensively, we are focusing on man-to-man pressure, and a press-styled defensive. The only thing different in our preparation from last year is our strength and conditioning program. We have invested in our weight program, and I think that we will definitely be a lot tougher overall this year.”

Unlike the men, the Lady Magicians struggled last season, finishing with an overall season record of 7-19, going 5-11 in the conference.

“The pressure is always there,” Partee said. “You always want to do better than how you’ve done in the past as coaches, players, and as a program. However, we don’t get caught up with the pressure because we understand who our source is and we get our energy from God. Even though the pressure is there, we lean on God and we understand that if we just do our job and do what he’s called us to do, then everything will fall right into place and that’s the approach we take with the pressure even though it is there.”

The Lady Magicians had one player to join this year’s Women’s SIAC Preseason All-Conference team, senior guard Teresa Mays.

“With this particular team our strategy is to try and run in transition as much as possible,” Partee said. “One of our philosophies is that we like to score on defense, and so if we can get the stop, and get out in transition and score quick buckets, I think that will give us an advantage throughout the season. Offensively, we want to focus on creating one-on-one match-ups because we feel that no team in our conference and even on our schedule can guard us in isolation.

“So, those are some of the things we focus on offensively and defensively, playing to our strengths by creating those one-on-one situations offensively, and rebounding defensively so that we can outlet the ball in transition for the quick buckets on offense,” he said.

The Women’s Basketball team hit the road, opening up against the big division 1 SEC School, LSU Lady Tigers on Nov. 6.

“I love this team,” said Crystal Shields, women’s team captain. “This team is probably the best team that I have been on in all of my 14 years of playing, and I say that because of the chemistry and the bond that we’ve gained over the couple of months that we’ve been together. My expectations are very high because this year we have “hoopers” and “ball players,” not just athletic women who play basketball. I expect for our shooting, rebounding, assist, and free throw percentages to go up from last year. I expect an overall better year.”