Wednesday marked the season opener for the men’s basketball team when the Grizzlies faced the Tigers of DePauw University. The men look to have a good run under the leadership of four seniors, a strong freshman class and a healthy roster.
“We are healthy, and one of our goals is to remain healthy,” said Kerry Prather, head coach. “Some of that is controllable and some of that is not.”
Last year, senior Robbie Prather suffered a shoulder injury to the point when surgery was needed, but he remains optimistic on this season.
“Coming off a pretty intense shoulder surgery, my main goal is to reach the level of aggressiveness and confidence I was playing with prior to the injury,” Robby Prather said. “After that, I’m just determined to do everything that I can to ensure that I put the team in the best position to win as many games as possible.”
After months in the off-season, the team had time to develop overall techniques, as well as continuing strength and conditioning reps to prepare for the upcoming season. From what can be seen in practice, the work put in this summer had “paid off” and Robbie Prather is “really excited to get the season underway and prove what we’re capable of.”
Sophomore Blake Oakley was able to experience an ample amount of playing time when he appeared in all 25 games as freshman. Entering this season, he wants to make contributions to the team that set them up for success.
“Individually, I want to be the best player I can be, on and off the court, and be a positive influence to our team,” Oakley said. “I want to provide leadership and be the best player I can be.”
Although individual goals make contributions to the overall well-being of the team, the team brainstormed goals to ensure they stay motivated.
This season, the Grizzlies welcomed seven freshmen. Some issues freshmen face when entering college basketball is the lack of physical development, but nevertheless Kerry Prather and the team believed they could make an impact for the years to come.
“I think our freshman class has a great group of guys that are really skilled already, and they are fun to be around on and off the court,” Oakley said. “They love to learn new things from coaches and older players, which is key for a freshman. A couple of them will have big roles on our team.”
After the team registered an 86-74 season opener victory against DePauw Wednesday night, they will travel to the Sunshine State to play against Florida College and Eckerd College during Thanksgiving break.
Grizzlies return home on Dec. 3 to face Defiance College at 4 p.m.