It’s November at the Merillat sport and fitness center. The gymnasium floor is freshly polished. Sneakers create a high pitched squeak as their bearers trot the floor and cut to the basket. A mellow “swish” brings euphoria to the competitors and their fans whenever points are scored, culminating with the drone of a loud buzzer on the scoreboard keeping the pace.
Basketball season is back at Adrian College, and not only are the fans looking forward to the potential of this year, but also the teams. Both the men’s and women’s teams are primed for action with fresh rosters, a clean slate and nothing but performance capacity. Some things haven’t changed though. Men’s team guards Jordan Harris and Sam Colbert put up solid numbers in their freshman campaigns last year. Now they’re in their sophomore seasons with more experience under their belt, posting an average of 20.0 PPG and 14.0 PPG, respectively. On the women’s side, sophomore Sha’Trice Graves comes off a fantastic freshman season that solidified her as one of the most prolific defenders in the MIAA, leading the nation in blocked shots for a Division III NCAA team.
In fact, defense, according to head coach Kathy Morris, seems to be a top priority for the women’s team in the coming season. Morris said the whole team, not just Graves, is looking to improve their defensive stature.
“Yes, she (Graves) does a great job at blocking shots,” said Morris. “Our overall defense still needs to improve. Each day is a room for improvement. At the top of our list is defense.”
Coach Morris’ philosophy on defensive reform seems to be working so far, as the women’s team is allowing only 61.1 PPG from opposing teams.
On the men’s side, that statistic still remains high. So far the Bulldogs allowed an average of 73.0 PPG this season. With a team average of 75.4 PPG, it seems as if the men’s team’s offense needs to be at the peak of its game in order to make up for their defensive struggles. However, men’s head coach Kyle Lindsey aspires to make defensive enhancement a top priority for the rest of the season. Some 16 freshman have been added to the roster that have talent on both sides of the ball, creating a high ceiling for team progression due to the growing field of young talent.
For the women, nine freshmen have been added to the roster, and coach Morris says that things are already looking up for the new players.
“They (the freshmen) have been adjusting well to the transition into college basketball,” said Morris. “There’s always going to be a learning curve but they are working hard.”
Both teams are already having their ups and downs as the first games of the season have already gotten underway. The men’s team has an overall record of 3-2 at the time of this writing, while the women’s team stands at 2-3. While the records might not have been the desired outcomes either team wanted to start off their seasons, one must be reminded that it’s a long way before championship games begin to spring up in March, and the turbulent starts can provide a great basis for what needs to be addressed before MIAA league play begins.
Both basketball teams look to compete at the highest level possible each and every game. Sure it might not be a perfect start, but basketball has a long season, and plenty of moments for reflection along the way.
Men’s basketball competes at home against Case Western Reserve on Dec. 4 at 7 p.m., while the women’s team hosts Alma on Dec. 5 at 7:30 p.m.