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Men’s basketball faces a series of player departures

By David Aizenberg

Section: Sports, Top Stories

April 28, 2017

Following their season in which the Brandeis basketball team finished with eight wins and 16 losses, several members of the team announced that they would not be continuing to play for the program, including star forward Jordan Cooper ’18.

A program that is led by the second winningest coach in Brandeis history, Brian Meehan, such departures are cause for wonder. Meehan owns a career record of 198 wins and 142 losses (in 13 years as head coach), and his tenure as coach includes four-straight seasons leading the team to the NCAA tournament between 2007-2010.

As the team looks to rebound next season, departures from players such as Cooper are means to wonder about the state of the program.

In his reflecting on the past season, Brian Mukasa ’19, who is quitting the team, mentioned that like any team, the basketball team had its issues. Without going into details, it became clear that the culture of the team was not up to par with what a top program should be. As Mukasa pointed out, “It may be time to start over and reimplement a culture toward success.”

Building on Mukasa’s words were Cooper, who echoed the notion that the culture of the team was not one to optimally breed success in a basketball program: “Coach [Meehan] pushed me to get better every year, but it didn’t help that there was no consistent assistant coach, so it was hard to build a bond.” As in any program, it takes more than one coach to lead a team. Each coach brings a unique perspective to the sport and not having a consistent assistant coach could be cause for concern.

However, both players pointed out that while their time on the team did not work out as they had hoped, the opportunities available at a school such as Brandeis are reasons for optimism. As Mukasa said, “Obviously I don’t wish it ended this way, but there is so much to do here, I am just moving on to a new chapter of my life.”

Much like Mukasa pointed out, Cooper voiced his positivity toward his future. “At this point, I have accomplished a lot and more than I thought I could. I have other things I am working on.” Cooper is currently working on a networking project to help student athletes be more set up for jobs after receiving their degrees. Student-athletes devote much of their time to their sports while also balancing their academic obligations, so Cooper hopes to make the job-seeking process easier for student-athletes.

The basketball team has seen better days, but with new players coming into the program, the team has a bright future in store. If a couple of the key issues troubling the program can be addressed, then with the experience of Coach Meehan, the program may once again flourish.

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