The Men’s Basketball team started off their season with a 1-1 record last week against Cameron and Texas A&M-Commerce.
Last year, the Jets went 9-19 overall with a conference record of 7-11. The Jets are working under a new coach this year, RJ Allen, who is looking for guys who are willing to compete and work hard, said sophomore Anthony Harvey.
“Practice is tough, as it should be, but we practice tough so the game isn’t difficult,” Harvey said. “With the conditioning and the late game situations, he’s prepared us to be the best team possible.”
The team has eight new players who Harvey says bring a lot of talent to the team.
“They all bring good energy to the team. We have a better team chemistry this year and we work together better on the court,” he said. “We are a more disciplined team. That came with the coaching change. The staff really focuses on valuing the ball and having no wasted days.”
Senior Kevin Bryant said the team has more depth and experience than it did last year.
“This year, we have Ben who is a point-guard who can create and score, Demetrius who is a good player on both ends, and Andre who is injury-free and a force down in the paint,” Bryant said.
Two players are out for the season with preseason injuries which has opened up spots for competing players.
There are a few returners who have established themselves as leaders on and off the court, Harvey said, like senior Aaron Samuels .
“He might not always say much, but he leads by examples and does the little things right all the time. In a team setting, that’s huge.”
The team has set high standards for itself this season, but Harvey said the team wants to change the culture of Newman basketball.
“The goal is always to win a ring and put a banner up in the gym, but we want to improve our road record and be the best rebounding team in the conference,” Harvey said. “We want to be the toughest playing team in the country, diving for loose balls, playing hard defense, and being tough on the glass is what we’re big on.”
Harvey said the team is focused mainly on defense this season.
“We worry about offense second this year and the biggest focus is being super tough on defense and rebounding the ball like crazy,” Harvey said. “We want to win the rebounding numbers every game.”
The pre-season polls put the Jets at second-to-last in the conference and Bryant said he and the team love it.
“I love being the underdog and proving people wrong and I think my team is on the same page with me on that,” Bryant said. “We want to come out and compete and make a statement that we are just as good as the other teams in the conference.”
The Jets take the court again at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday against Pittsburg State University in Kansas City, Mo.
This story first appeared in the November 16, 2017 issue of The Vantage.