Tom Conley ’15
Assistant Sports Editor
Basketball is finally here for our Warriors! After a long laborious off-season our Men’s basketball team is looking to improve from last year’s season after coming off a 9-17 record. With the talent they have their record from last year is tremendously misleading for this year’s improved roster. With top scorers for the Warriors returning, Gelvis Solano (21.2 ppg), Captain JT Strickland (11.5 ppg), and Anthony Barry (11.4 ppg), the sky is the limit for this young talented team.
This year’s Northeast-10 Conference Men’s Basketball Preseason Coaches’ Poll had our Warriors finishing in sixth place out of eight in the Northeast Division. When asked about the poll, junior guard, Chris Mendes said, “We don’t really pay attention to any pre-season voting because no one has proven anything yet. We are just trying to get better every single day, that’s the only thing we are worried about.” Despite the undermining assumption of the team, this talented roster has the potential and the ability to silence the critics. Mendes went on to address the difference of this year’s team to last year’s confidently stating, “Mainly, we’re all a year older. You can see it everyday in practice, everyone is smarter, more focused, and more mature than last year. A year of experience goes a long way in this league. We only lost one senior and added a great mix of transfers and freshmen who all add something that we need to take a step forward this year as a program.”
A step forward was an understatement for our men’s basketball program after their first exhibition game. They won the game by double figures against Saint Mary’s University, scoring an impressive 95 points. This offense displayed how well they can play and showed they are a potential force to be reckoned with in their division. Based on an interview with Merrimack Athletics, Head Coach Bert Hammel addressed the tough teams the NE10 has, and how respectable the competition is. He also spoke about the pre-season poll and he hopes to improve on where they were selected. The coach says he looks forward to see how his team competes against the other programs across the league.
With a new season comes new captains, and new leaders. The only senior on the squad, Trevon Berry-Rodgers, was appointed to be one of the captains with his final year with the team. Berry-Rodgers talked about his new role as captain stating, “As a captain and the only senior I just plan to help lead the younger guys on the court by keeping everyone positive when adversity hits, teaching guys how to move on to the next play no matter the outcome of the previous one, being a vocal leader, and making sure we maintain energy throughout every practice and game. Off the court I look to help my teammates understanding that getting the job done in the classroom is just as important as getting the job done on the court, and also to become more involved in the Merrimack community.”
The captain also discussed the difference between the struggling team of last year, to the team that has been assembled for this upcoming season.
“After last season I plan on bringing the best out of every individual on the team including myself, because we all have another level of intensity we can reach, its just the fact of how capable we are of reaching it. Also I plan on reminding the guys every practice and every game that we want to be better than before, we have the talent and comradery to do so, so the sky is the limit.”
The men’s first game of the season is Friday, November 14 at Bentley University against Holy Family. Our Warriors look to put all these underestimating critics to rest and play the game they love and play it the only way they know how to, tough, fast, and consistent. This team has the potential to shock the division, however for them it would be what they’re expecting.