As the Stevenson men’s basketball team prepares for their upcoming winter season in the Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) Commonwealth, they are integrating fresh faces with the veteran players, with the hope of capitalizing on players’ various strengths.
Gary Stewart, the head coach of the men’s basketball team, is enforcing the idea of team-oriented play, encouraging the first-year and transfer players to blend their playing styles with the returners.
The Mustangs will host their season opener in the Owings Mills gymnasium against an out-of-conference team, Elizabethtown College at 8 p.m. on Nov. 15.
According to a MAC release on gomustangsports.com, this year the team is returning only five players, including Kyle Wooldridge, who was the leading scorer of the team returning this season.
Stewart said that he expects his returners to “convey the meaning of team-oriented basketball” to help the newcomers adapt to that style of play. The idea of team basketball will encourage the Mustangs to work together as one single unit, instead of five individual players. This method will create better chemistry on the court, building a competitive offense and a strong defense.
“We brought in nine new players who each bring a unique skill to the team, and those individual skills complement each other to help form a competitive group of players,” said Stewart.
Junior Korey Hayman Jr. said that the team is working on off-court bonding to help with their teamwork on the court. “Just going out to eat, or going to watch other teams’ games together has allowed us to get to know each other better,” Hayman said.
The players are pushing each other in practice every day to ensure that no matter who goes in the game, they are all ready to make a positive impact. An important focus for the team is daily improvement. “Each member of the team is concentrating on being able to contribute,” said Hayman.
Stewart believes that success starts at practice, and what they accomplish in practice will carry onto the court. He wants his players to be able to say at the end of each practice that they are better than they were when they walked in.
The coach is not only focusing on the player’s basketball ability, but also their character off the court. Stewart said that this concept “starts with recruiting high-character people.” It is important for him that his team represents the university in a positive way and contributes to Stevenson’s good reputation.
The players have committed to representing the university whether it is in the classroom, on the court, or at a rival school. The team is serious about community service and demonstrating Stevenson’s values no matter where they go.
Stewart’s plan for success is to have his players embrace the characteristics that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.