The Muhlenberg men’s basketball team opened their season on Saturday, Nov. 11, with a dominant 86-64 victory over Rosemont College. When the game finished, four of the five starters for the Mules finished with double-digits in the scoring column, allowing the team to maintain their lead over Rosemont from the first basket until the clock hit zero.
After a strong 2022-2023 season, one in which the Mules made it to the semi-final round of the Centennial Conference (CC) playoffs, the team is looking to build off of it and go even further this time around. Coming into the 2023-2024 season, the Mules were ranked fourth in the CC men’s basketball preseason rankings, behind only Gettysburg College, Johns Hopkins University and the reigning CC champions, Swarthmore College.
However, if they want to finish with a record of 18-9 like they did last season, the Mules are going to need big contributions from their underclassmen players. The team lost seven players, including six seniors who graduated, from last year’s squad. Besides the five upperclassmen who started in the team’s win over Rosemont, all of the other players that saw action were either sophomores, who saw 50 or fewer total minutes last season, or first-years in their first-ever collegiate basketball game.
“From what I’ve seen, the underclassmen have definitely been bringing a different type of energy to practice and even against Rosemont on Saturday,” said Brandon Goldberg ‘24. “With so many young guys, they bring this young energy where they’re all competing for minutes and pushing everyone in practice to go harder. I think their success in practice will translate right into the games with the level of competitiveness they play with.”
Though the team knows that the first-years and sophomores are going to need to play a big role for them to have a successful season, they also know that the five who started the game versus Rosemont need to all play even better than they did last year.
Goldberg commented, “All five of us (starters) have a lot of experience playing together because we did so much last year so we all know everyone’s strengths and weaknesses. I think we just need to teach the younger guys that it takes a group effort to win. Doing the little things are the things that win you games.”
The Mules’ next game will be their home opener when they take on fellow Lehigh Valley rival, Moravian University. Despite this matchup being a non-conference game, tensions always seem a little higher for this matchup compared to your average non-conference game.
“This Moravian game is always a big game because we’re both located in the Lehigh Valley. They’re only a 15-minute drive away so it feels kind of personal, and you want to really win versus teams like them and DeSales. I’m expecting a big crowd and a good battle for the game on Wednesday,” said Goldberg. The Mules are looking to extend their win streak against the Greyhounds to four wins as they haven’t lost to Moravian since 2018.
Following their home opener versus Moravian, the team will then kick off in-conference play with four straight conference games, beginning with a matchup at Swarthmore on Wednesday, Nov. 22.