Men’s basketball gears up for season

Senior Johnny Rhodes attempts to score in a home game against Elizabethtown College last season at Stevenson University Owings Mills Gym. (Photo by Sabina Moran)

The Stevenson University men’s basketball team is preparing to build off their returners’ experience and leadership to become a competitive team in the Middle Atlantic Commonwealth Conference (MAC Commonwealth) this season.

Sophomore captain Cam Harris attempts to make a pass, but is  blocked by an opponent from Albright College in a home game last season. (Photo by Sabina Moran)

Finishing 3-13 in-conference last season, according to gomustangsports.com, it is important for the Mustangs to prove themselves not only to the MAC Commonwealth, but also to the university and the community.

In the MAC Commonwealth preseason poll, the Mustangs were picked ninth out of the nine teams in the conference, earning only 17 total points in comparison to first-place Arcadia University with 61 points, according to www.gomacsports.com.

This season the Mustangs are scheduled to play over half of their games at home. Head coach Gary Stewart said it is important for the Mustangs to reestablish their home court advantage this season, which cannot be done without the students and community’s support.

“The Stevenson nation is vital to our success,” Stewart said. He emphasized that Stevenson has one of the best gymnasium environments, so it needs to be used to the team’s advantage.

The team won both of their preseason scrimmages, against Wilson College and Rutgers University-Camden. Sophomore captain Cam Harris said the scrimmages “are great for seeing what we need to work on, so we can prepare ourselves for the regular season.” He added that the two wins have raised the team’s confidence.

Senior Johnny Rhodes hoes in for the layup in a home game against Elizabethtown College last season. (Photo by Sabina Moran)

The team brought in five freshman and two transfers for the 2018-19 season. Freshman Jack Solano said coming into his first season as a Mustang, he is looking forward to playing in the MAC because it is such a competitive conference. Solano is a point guard from New Jersey whose team finished 25-3 last year.

The Mustangs have not only made additions to their roster, but also to the coaching staff. Ethan Engeman joined the squad as the team’s graduate assistant. Head coach Gary Stewart said the new coach is adjusting to the coaching style already in place. Stewart stressed the importance of his coaching staff being able to adapt and be flexible throughout the season as they are faced with adversity. The new graduate assistant graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in Parks, Recreation, and Sport with an emphasis in Sport Management and minored in business.

The Mustangs lost senior Danzel Wright from last season, a player who led the team in scoring. He averaged 20.3 points per game, had 14 games in which he scored over 20 points, and shot 90 percent from the foul line, according to gomustangsports.com. Stewart and the team are going to need a player or multiple players to step up and fill his scoring roll on the offensive end.

The Mustangs’ first home game is a non-conference game against the University of Scranton at 3 p.m. on Nov. 10. The Royals finished 13-12 last season, 9-5 in the Landmark Conference. The Scranton game is a doubleheader, following the women’s game at 1 p.m. against Washington & Lee University; during these games, the teams will be hosting a “purple out” to raise awareness for pancreatic cancer. There will be purple bracelets and ribbons available for purchase, with all proceeds going to cancer research.

The first conference home game is against Lycoming College at 1 p.m. on Dec. 1. For the complete Stevenson men’s basketball schedule, go to gomustangsports.com

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