The 2014-15 season could mean big things for the CCSJ men’s basketball team. Last year, the Wave finished their campaign with a 15-16 record in a brutally tough conference which boasts teams such as nationally-ranked Conference Season Champions Cardinal Stritch, as well as Tournament Champion St. Xavier University.
However, with many key players returning, including its “Big Three” of Robert Jackson, Brian Brilmeyer, and Franqlin Gatson, leading the way for an experienced Crimson Wave team now sporting a much stronger supporting cast, highlighted by the addition of freshmen Michael Brooks, expectations for this season are much, much higher, both from outsiders as well as the team itself.
When asked, Coach Ryan Sexon said this year’s team can be characterized as “experienced and hungry,” while still “looking to get better every day while giving maximum effort.” He also stressed that the team embraces a “defense-first mentality.” It comes as no surprise then that last year’s Crimson Wave were in the top ten in many key defensive statistics (6th-blocked shots, 5th-devensive rebounds, 7th-PPG allowed, 10th-steals), something they will be looking to lean on, and improve upon this season.
Not to be overlooked, however, is the CCSJ offense. The Crimson Wave have the good fortune of returning three starters who ranked in the top thirty in the conference in scoring last year (R. Jackson -3rd, F. Gatson- 18th, B. Brilmeyer- 28th). Safe to say, there should be no shortage of offensive firepower on this team.
“I feel like we have every right to believe we can compete for a regular season conference championship and a post season,” stated senior forward Brian Brilmeyer. Guard Franqlin Gatson echoed this belief, stating that he believes CCSJ can finish within “the top 4 teams in the conference.”
“We’ve got the scoring to compete with anybody, and our defensive mindset will give us a chance to win every night…this year we have more depth as well,” continued Gatson. Continuing on the topic of mindset, each player I spoke with echoed an ‘us against the world mentality.’
“I think wherever we go, people look at us as this small school in little Whiting, Indiana and they expect to roll over us. We always have to come out with a chip on our shoulders…we have to prove them wrong,” added senior guard Alante Crawford.
With such a strong returning core, now backed by one of the deeper benches in the conference, our Crimson Wave men’s basketball team is set up to make some noise this season. At the end of the year, I have every reason to believe that this team should be competing for a CCAC conference title.
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