Muhlenberg basketball showed up at home Friday, Nov. 5, with a decisive 94-71 victory over the Moravian University Greyhounds. Dan Gaines ‘22 led the team in scoring with 24 points and also had nine rebounds and six assists. Dallas Hoffman ‘22 contributed as well with 23 points to help the Mules secure a victory.
Four players scored their first career points: Bryce Nash ‘23, Brandon Goldberg ‘24, Micah Coates ‘25 and Jayson Williams-Johnson ‘25.
Head Coach Kevin Hopkins spoke about the team’s performance and praised his group. “It was our first game back in Memorial Hall since February [of] 2020 when we played Washington College in the first round of the Centennial Conference playoffs, so I was excited to see our guys flying around the court communicating, competing and making plays for their teammates. I thought that our defensive effort and activity, especially to end the first half and to start the second half, were instrumental in jumpstarting our offense and helping us build a lead.”
He also expressed what he felt his team needs to work on. “We need to continue to work on doing a better job of rebounding and taking care of the basketball, but overall I thought the guys did a great job and it was exciting to start to see some of the results that are a product of all the hard work that they have put in over the last year and half.”
Gaines, given an honorable mention on the Division III preseason All-American team as well as the Centennial Conference player of the week on Tuesday Nov. 9, is pumped to return to the hardwood court. “I think the whole team was just excited and eager to get out there and play a real game. Our assistant coach, Coach Hallman, kept reminding us of the weeks that we couldn’t even use balls during practice, so I think we were all just grateful leading up to and during the game against Moravian.”
Hopkins also talked about what it is like to build team chemistry. “The guys on our team have told me that this is the closest team we have had, both on and off the court. I think that our older guys, especially our senior group, have done a tremendous job of connecting with the younger players and making sure they understand what our Muhlenberg basketball program is about and what our expectations are for them as people and as players. I think that their camaraderie off the court is clearly visible and carries over once they step on the court to play.”
External expectations for the team may appear high, but the Mules’ expectations of themselves are much higher than any outside group. “We expect the people in our program to keep showing up, to be curious, to keep finding ways to make a positive impact on ourselves and others, and to keep doing the next right thing,” said Hopkins.
“Our coaching staff is grateful for the opportunity to work with this group of guys and we are excited to see the journey that this season takes us on.”
Gaines shared a similar response to his coach. “I think all of the freshmen have done a great job and have bought into what our program is trying to accomplish. We are all a tight-knit group on and off the court and all have confidence in each other. Our coaches have also done a great job building chemistry amongst the players.”
Although it may be easy to think about long term goals, Gaines and the rest of his teammates are focused only on short term ones. “I think our goal as a team is to improve each day in practice/games and ultimately compete for a Centennial Conference championship and make some noise in the national tournament as well. Personally, I want to do my best to be a leader on this team so that we can attain these goals,” Gaines said.
Instead of praising himself after receiving a preseason All-American honorable mention, Gaines chose to highlight the teammates and coaches who’ve gotten him to where he is. “I was honored to be considered an honorable mention but at the same time give almost all the credit to my teammates and coaches,” Gaines said. “They consistently put me in positions to succeed and make it much easier for me. I am excited and hopeful to make a positive impact on the underclassmen and help them as much as possible as they feel their way through their first college games.”
When asked about winning Centennial Conference player of the week, Gaines said, “It was a team effort.”
On Nov. 9, the Mules traveled to Madison, NJ to take on the Drew University Rangers where they pulled out a 81-76 victory. They will participate in the Rinso Marquette Invitational on Friday, Nov. 12 at 6 p.m. when they take on Penn State Harrisburg at Lebanon Valley College.