The men’s basketball team has recently started practicing for their upcoming season. The season opener tips off against Moravian University on Tuesday, Nov. 8. Following a disappointing 2021-2022 season–when the team finished with an overall record of (9-16) and eighth in the Centennial Conference (after starting third in the preseason poll)—the Mules are expecting to have a much better result to their 2022-2023 season.
One of the main reasons the team didn’t meet their expectations last year was because they lost their preseason All-American point guard, Dan Gaines ‘22 currently enrolled in Muhlenberg College School of Graduate Studies, to injury eleven games into the season. Now with Gaines fully healthy and returning for a fifth year, the team looks to follow his lead throughout the season. “With Dan returning back this year, he will make it much easier for the rest of the team, he’s got a lot of talent and experience,” says forward Brandon Goldberg ‘23. He went on to say that Gaines “may not be the loudest guy on the court, but he leads by example by going hard in practice and always having a positive attitude. I didn’t get to play with Dan at all last year because of his injury so I’m very excited to step on the court with him this year. He’s going to make it a lot easier for us since he draws so much attention on offense.”
During Gaines’ sophomore year, the team had a very successful season in which they finished with a record of (19-8) and a trip to the semifinal round of the Centennial Conference playoffs. Gaines talked about how the team can reach that level of success again saying, “[Last year,] I think that even though our record showed otherwise, as a team, we were still able to build on the positive things that came from my sophomore season. Towards the end of last season, we really put a focus on buying into your own individual role.” Each player’s individual investment led to the realization of the team’s overarching goals.
Guard Jayson Williams-Johnson ‘25 speaks for the team and their goals when he says, “We want to win the championship, but we have a lot of other goals and expectations. One is just improving from last year. We have a lot of guys who can make an impact and help us do that this year. And yes, of course we want to win the conference, but there are a lot of tough teams in the Centennial Conference. So, we all have to lock in as a team to achieve that goal.”
Raising a conference championship banner in Memorial Hall requires a tenacious team that is unwilling to let up the intensity throughout the entirety of practices and games. Goldberg emphasizes, “we just started team practices on Oct. 15, but we’ve been playing pickup together three times a week since the start of the school year. This has helped us create team chemistry and has allowed us to gel together. We’ve started to figure out everyone’s strengths and weaknesses, which has made the transition into practice a lot easier for us. Not only has it helped our team chemistry, but it has helped us stay in basketball shape. Many of us on the team feel like we’re in the best shape of our careers due to lifting three times a week, conditioning practices twice a week, and then also playing pickup. I’m looking forward to a very good season and think we can make a serious run with the talent we have.”
Their first home game of the season is on Nov. 12, 2022 versus the Susquehanna University River Hawks at 2 p.m.