Hawks Conditioned for Long Successful Season

Sophomore Bryan Donovan brings the ball up the court in their scrimmage Sunday, Nov. 4.

Brett Johnson, Sports Editor

Basketball’s regular seasons are starting up this week thanks to a new NCAA rule which is allowing teams to play games a week earlier than in the past.

The RWU men’s basketball team is excited for the season to start up and to improve upon their 18-9 overall record from just a year ago. In Commonwealth Coast Conference play, they finished 11-7, falling to tough opponents like Endicott College, Gordon College and Nichols College. The Hawks lost in the semifinals 75-89 to Nichols, who then defeated Endicott in the CCC championship.

“We’ve had a good record the past two years… obviously, we want to get back to that this year but we also want to exceed it. We kind of talk about that at practice like, ‘Oh, are we going to the same thing every year to get back to that 18 or 19 wins again, or are we going to do the extra stuff that’s going to get us to 20, 21, 22, or 23 wins?’” senior captain Austin Coene said. “I just want to get back the championship and win it this year. We got there freshman year and we haven’t gotten back since so that’s the main goal.”

“We’re a different team…every year is a different team,” Head Coach Michael Tully said. “It’s a new year, it’s a different team. I’m sure same thing will be said for [Nichols].”

The Hawks graduated three seniors in 2018—Nick Marini, Jaylen Jennings and Conor O’Brien—but they’ve added four new players to their roster. Freshmen Eli Harris, Jenya Medvedev and Will Pineo are all motivated to get better and help the team, according to tri-captains Coene, Jake Heaton and Ben Stone. They also welcome sophomore Rudy Jean to the squad who was cut during tryouts last season but came back this year and made the team.

“They’re talented kids and they all bring different qualities to the program,” said Coach Tully.

“[The new players] all fit in well with us,” Heaton said.

One of their main focuses this year is defense. Coach Tully and the tri-captains agree that they’re talented offensively but their weak spot is their defense. They’re conditioning their legs every practice so they can stay in their defensive stance, slide and have a good first step on a drive.

The Hawks will be looking to not only their senior leadership but also their large sophomore class.

“We had guys last year who were younger guys who were learning the system and this is the year for them to start filling those voids. The sophomore class got some experience playing last year and this year, their roles are going to expand,” Coach Tully said. 

“I think they’re just becoming more mature as basketball players. Their bodies are filling out, too,” Coene said. “They’re learning the offense more and they’re going to be ready for the season.”

The Hawks are at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy on Thursday, Nov. 8 for their first game, then open at home against Worcester State University on Nov. 11.