Mike Cratty ‘20
Junior point guard Javaris Hayes is excited to lead Merrimack College’s Men’s Basketball team this year. The team finished last year with an overall record of 20-12, with 14 of those wins coming in conference play. The season is set to begin on Nov. 10 in a game against Holy Family in the East Region Conference Challenge.
Hayes has high expectations for the Men’s Basketball team and plays a growing role in its success. He enters the season as a preseason All-American in the annual Street & Smith’s Basketball Yearbook and in the Division II Bulletin. Hayes led the team last season in points-per-game (17.8) and rebounds per game (5.8), amongst other categories last season. He also led the nation in steals per game (3.88), total assists (255) and total steals (124).
Hayes is clearly an impact player that embraces his skills and is a leader as a result. Being an upperclassman and an All-American for a second straight year has Hayes motivated. “For the most part, it just makes me want to push myself even more, be the leader that I need to be,” said Hayes. The amount of action he has seen and what he has learned so far has been transformative for Hayes.“Being an upperclassman, I’ve already experienced most of what I need to experience, had ups, had downs, appreciate it all, but it made me a way better person and player for this year.”
Hayes’ teammates really look to him as a leader because he is someone who really pushes the pace on the court and has been a great addition to the team from the start.
“My teammates look forward to me grinding every day, and knowing I have that type of status, they kind of look for me to lead in practice and in the games, and just push them as well,” said Hayes.
His confidence in the group, and the team’s “Win Everything,” mentality has Hayes thinking big this year. “Our goal is to get back to the tournament and actually win everything.” The sense of comfortability and confidence is very much present and for good reason.
Newly appointed assistant coach Phil Gaetano share’s Hayes’ confidence heading into his first season with the program. Coach Gaetano brings plenty of experience from his past with Coppin State University’s men’s basketball program as well as experience as an assistant coach with the Boston Celtics’ G-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws.
“I hope to just bring some new energy,” said Gaetano. “Obviously, it’s new for me and they’ve done it the last two years so just a little new perspective, and a new voice, some new energy that hasn’t been there, and just helping guys get better.”
First-year team manager Joseph Leblanc comes into the program fired up to see what the Merrimack men’s basketball program can do. “The team is looking super good so far and hopefully will be very successful in the upcoming season,” said Leblanc, adding that based on what he’s seen, he shares the confident mindset that Hayes and Gaetano do.
When it all comes down to it, there is much to be excited about when it comes to Merrimack men’s basketball this season. With new faces in the fold and some familiar faces still in the mix, the expectations are high as there is less than a month to go until the regular season.