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Basketball team holds high hopes for upcoming season

By web

Section: Features

December 7, 2012

The Brandeis men’s basketball team has been a force to reckon with over the last few years. They have had three consecutive second-place finishes in the University Athletic Association, four NCAA tournament berths in four years, two runs to the Elite Eight, the quarterfinals of the competition, and a national ranking of second place in the 2007-2008 season. The team consistently draws enormous crowds throughout the season, with 400-500 people appearing for home games. The conference games garner the largest number of spectators, as in most schools, with a consistent number estimated to be around 700. For the rivalry games, such as those against Amherst, Coach Brian Meehan says that they get “around 1,000 people out supporting the team.” According to captain Derek Retos ’14, “The atmosphere is unbelievable and we really appreciate the support we get from our classmates and we really feed off the energy they bring.”

Last year, the team had an up-and-down season, winning 13 games and losing 12. Their goal for this year is, according to Meehan, to “bounce back from the up-and-downs of last year and put up a good position for league play. Twenty wins almost guarantees a spot in the NCAA.” Retos has set his sights quite higher, saying, “I honestly believe this team can win a national championship. We have the talent and work ethic to overcome anything and I truly believe if we continue to play together we can win a national championship.”

He even states that, “this year’s team has really improved from that team [the one that finished second in the country]. Besides us gaining experience and getting better, we have added players who can truly help us.” This year, the team has already set up a streak of seven wins after their opening day loss against Rhode Island College, with a combined score of 551-478. The opening day loss was fought against a good defensive team and according to Meehan, “At the start of the season, defense always has an edge over offense.” Their home ground is quickly becoming a fortress, with the team winning all five games played at Brandeis.

The fact is that most schools have a schedule set up with a “community time,” or something of that sort, in which there is a break of two to three hours during which the extracurricular activities can take place, such as club meetings and varsity practices. According to Meehan, this gives other schools an advantage, as they don’t have to worry about scheduling conflicts as much as the Brandeis teams. The absence of this community time period “makes it difficult for athletes as they need to plan their class schedule around practices and the coaches need to plan practices around classes.” This lack of a community time period during the day keeps many people away from extracurricular activities, which, as Meehan says, is “unfortunate, because it is a big part of college.”

The team has welcomed three new first-years to its ranks this year. As Meehan states, “Recruiting has become harder because everyone is doing it, making it hard to compete with schools with top studies and programs.” As the school is a NCAA Division III member, athletes must be recruited for both athletics and academics. As of right now, the team has “three walk-ons, whereas everyone else was heavily recruited.”

Fortunately, the team has, by all standards, a large squad this year. Meehan said that typically, most teams have 12-14 players but this year the Judges have 17 on their roster.

“Typically more than 10 won’t play in one game,” Meehan said. The squad has good depth this year, allowing rotations to be fluid and practical, so that “fatigue [doesn’t] become a huge factor.” According to Meehan, the only times it catches up with the players is during exam periods, or “God forbid, if a cold, or the flu goes through the team.”

The team must balance its tiring schedule with school work, and, according to Retos, the members all know that it is their “responsibility to manage both as best as possible.”

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