Men’s club basketball looks to return to nationals

While the men’s varsity basketball team has not had the best of starts, the club basketball team has picked the streak.

The men captured a title at Loyola three weeks ago in an eight-team tournament, going 5-1 in pool and tournament play combined.

“The tournament was pretty competitive,” club basketball president senior Sam Ryan said. “We played some teams that we haven’t played before, so that was challenging. But we also played a couple teams that we had experience against, which kind of helped.”

The team worked extremely well together over the weekend, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
“We were able to do so well because we play a lot harder than other teams on defense,” Ryan said.

“That’s where I think our club team sets ourselves apart, as well as with our communication. Everybody talks in the huddles and on the bench, and [they] points out things to make sure all the players know what to do.”

These tangible qualities were obviously a major key to the team’s success. Sophomore guard Jordan Jarrett believes the intangibles make the team click more than anything else.

“With the guys, there’s always a high morale,” Jarrett said. “We all seem to get along. There’s always great chemistry with any kind of lineup we decide to put on the court.”

The club basketball team is no stranger to success. Last season, it qualified for nationals in North Carolina, and according to the players, the goal for this season is to make it back.

“Last year, we were able to win one of the regional tournaments at Oakland University, which will kind of be like the Nebraska tournament,” Ryan said. “The Nebraska tournament is historically not as competitive. The tournament at Dayton will be tougher, but realistically I think we can win one of them.”

Their goal to return to North Carolina is certainly not unattainable. This core of players have played together extensively for the past two years and plays very well with each other.

“We’ve become a close knit group, so that’s a great part of playing club,” Jarrett said. “I consider those guys some of my closest friends here at school, too, after all the trials and tribulations we’ve gone through over the past couple years.”

The team will play its first tournament at the University of Missouri in the spring, followed by two regional tournaments at Nebraska and Dayton. If the team wins one of the tournaments in Nebraska or Dayton, it will travel to the east coast for a chance at a national title.