By Hanae Wada
The Roger Williams University men’s basketball team is excited to start a new season. The team returns with a veteran group containing a lot of experience and including many new players that will introduce new character and skills.
Last season the men’s basketball team was arguably the most successful winter sports team. The team didn’t have the most impressive regular season, finishing with a record of 12-15 overall, and going 8-10 in conference play. This record was enough to earn them the sixth seed in the playoffs. Even though RWU is a Division III team, the playoff run the team pulled off was similar to something seen during March Madness. The team stunned the third seeded Eastern Nazarene College on the road in the quarterfinals match. Next they played the seventh seeded Western New England University, and would cruise to the CCC championship match where they saw their season come to a disappointing end. They would lose the championship game to the fourth seeded Endicott College.
This season the team will look to bounce back and return to the championship match, but this time they do not plan on coming up short. However, while it may seem like the team is poised to make a championship run, they are setting the same goal as the women’s basketball team, which is to buy into the team culture.
“Everyone on the team has their head in the place and buy into our team culture. Our team culture this season is to think above the line,” said team captain Jake Syska. “We have the mindset to do everything, whether it is practice, games, or even school work and class, intentionally, purposeful and skillfully.”
This season the team has added five new players to the roster. Each of them look to make a statement to the team and perform well this season.
Among the new additions is Sophomore Jake Heaton.
“Jake is a tough, hard-nosed guard and a great defender and shooter,” assistant coach Dan Weidmann stated.
Dalton Pendergrast, who is a returning sophomore, missed the majority of the season last year due to illness. He will have a much expanded role this year. Following in Pendergrast’s feet are incoming freshmen Ian Carmichael and Rich Pugliese. Both of them bring a unique skill set that will help the program move forward in the next four years.
“Justin is a play-making guard, Ian is a 6’7″ athletic center, and Rich is an athletic guard who is proving to be one of the better shooters on the team. All three guys are learning the system and buying into our culture,” said assistant coach Dan Weidmann.
After falling short in the Conference Championship game a season ago against Endicott College, it is now up to the team veterans to motivate the team into action.
The men’s basketball team is led by three senior captains: Josh Syska, Andrew Wasik, and Jake Leprevost. All three captains are great leaders in different ways. Syska is the backbone of the team, he has been for his entire career. He is the team’s defensive leader and is the most vocal person on the team. Wasik has been a starting guard since his freshman season. He has grown into a great vocal leader as well, but both he and Leprevost are great lead-by-example type of players. All three balance the captaincy of the team. They will lead the players to do whatever it takes for the team to do well.
The team’s goal this season is simple: daily improvement. “We want to get better every practice and every game. To consistently take small strides and improve our habits necessary for long-term success,” said Weidmann.
Come support the men’s basketball team this season as they look to improve from last season. The first home game will be on Nov. 27 at 4 p.m. against Connecticut College in the upper gym.