After winning their first two games, the men’s basketball team has lost four of their last games and are coming up against two of the top teams in the Centennial Conference. One is Johns Hopkins University, who sits at the top, and Ursinus College, who are 3rd in the standings. Coming off a tough 4-point loss to the Swarthmore College Garnet, the team looks to find their identity and play fundamental basketball.
“Our focus during practices has been on competing and figuring out how quickly we can ‘Do The Next Right Thing,’” said Head Coach Kevin Hopkins. “If we make a mistake, which we know is going to happen, instead of focusing on the mistake we want to see how quickly we can re-focus on the present moment so that we can ‘Do The Next Right Thing.’”
While the team may have gotten off to a slow start, this is their first time playing games since 2020, with last season cancelled because of the COVID pandemic. The team has ample time to improve and fix what they need to. “Coming off a loss to Swarthmore, where a game like that comes down to one or two possessions, we have been focusing on trying to create more possessions for ourselves and just tightening down on defensive rotations to eliminate some easy shots teams have been getting off against us,” said center Dallas Hoffman ‘22.
The team is using their time wisely and are focusing in practice on not only how they can improve as individuals, but also as a team. “Our team’s biggest strength is the number of guys on our roster that are finding ways to make a positive impact on our program both on and off of the court. There are a number of guys in our program that have had a huge impact on our team this year without playing big minutes on the court during games,” said Hopkins.
“Our older guys have done a tremendous job of teaching the younger guys and creating a strong team chemistry and culture this season. This is one of the most connected and hardest working groups that we have had during my time at Muhlenberg and it is a privilege to have the opportunity to coach them and see the growth that they have shown on and off the court not only as individuals but as a team,” he said.
“What’s exciting about getting the opportunity to play in the Centennial Conference, is that every game means as much as the next,” said Hoffman. “On any given day any team competes with any in this conference. So going into this week’s games, we really are focusing on playing our basketball, which for us is getting steals or rebounds.”
This week will be a big test for the Mules as they are playing the top C.C. teams. Wins here will be huge for the team and will get the season back on track. Coach Hopkins knows the importance this week will have on their season and is making sure the team is ready to go. “Our approach going into games this week versus. Ursinus and Johns Hopkins is the same that it has been all year. We are going to trust that if we stay committed to our process and keep showing up and working on the right things, such as finding ways to make a positive impact on ourselves and other people, then we are going to give ourselves the best chance of being successful.”
Hoffman added to his coach’s sentiment saying, “We need to focus on pushing the ball in transition. We have plenty of guys on the team that can shoot the ball and cut to the basket and score, so the mindset is really focusing on playing hard and trusting each other to do the right thing.”
The Mules know what it takes to be successful and this will be a great opportunity to show how dangerous they can be in the Centennial Conference.
The team fell short of a victory against Ursinus College Nov. 30th 77-71 at Memorial Hall, they will return to host Johns Hopkins on Saturday, Dec. 4.