The 2017-2018 season is just right around the corner for the Men’s and Women’s Basketball programs. The two teams tip off their seasons on November 17th in the annual Scotty Wood Tournament. Both teams won each of their two games that were played in the tournament last year, winning the tournament championship. The men’s team, who finished at exactly 500 last season (12-12), look to improve this year with their new Head Coach, Kevin Hopkins. The women’s team added another banner to Memorial Hall, finishing last season with an unbelievable record (20-8), seek to pick up right where they left off as they aim to finish first in the Conference, as well winning a fourth consecutive conference championship.
Men’s Head Coach Kevin Hopkins, looks with high hopes for the Mules this up and coming season. “I have always enjoyed coaching and playing for Division III basketball,” said Hopkins. “I came to Muhlenberg because being a part of a close-knit community with a high level of education is important to me.” Hopkins stressed the importance of making sure that his players grow mentally and physically on and off the court. One of the main goals for the 2017-2018 season is to improve bit by bit each and every day. The Mules seem to be in good hands with Hopkins who was part of a National Championship team, as both a player and Assistant Coach at Amherst. As the 25th Men’s Basketball Head Coach, Hopkins looks to lead the Mules in the right direction with his leadership and knowledge of the game.
In the off season the team dealt with several injuries. Despite the adversity, the Men’s team looks to make a name for themselves behind the new program that has been established. Senior captains Nigel Long ’18 and JeanLee Biaz ‘18 will lead the team, while supporting Coach Hopkins new game styles. The Mules look to change their defensive strategies from a slower zone defense to a fast-paced, man-on-man defense. Hopkins stressed the importance of how every player on his team makes a difference. There are also high hopes for the five freshmen on the team who hope to make names for themselves in their first campaign as a Mule.
This season is going to be very special for the seniors, since they have yet to lose a single playoff game – Coach Rohn
Many athletes struggle to win just one championship with their team during their college careers. Not the Women’s Basketball team. Aside from the freshman and transfers, not a single player on the team’s roster has ended the season without being named conference champions. “This season is going to be very special for the seniors, since they have yet to lose a single playoff game,” said Rohn. “It would be quite the accomplishment for the seniors to win the Centennial Conference championship all four years of their college careers.” Rohn stressed the importance behind his team’s success. “My players are a great group of women that work hard day in and day out.” Most people would think that there is not a lot of stress on the women’s team this year, since they have won the championship three years in a row and did not lose many players. However, that idea is wrong as the women have to work twice as hard as they did last season if they want to achieve their incredible goal.
The team has also faced some minor setbacks in the offseason, as several players unfortunately went down with minor injuries. Before the Scotty Wood Tournament, the women face off against Moravian College next week to kick off the season. The injuries are being recovered from and the women are looking stronger than ever in their every day practices.
Rachel Plotke ‘18, Brandi Vallely ‘18, Christina Manning ’18 and Chelsea Gary ’18 are excited to accomplish a goal that is very rarely achieved. There is something very special about these girls, as they look to lead their team to fourth consecutive championship. All four of the seniors are captains of the team, which is a huge honor. They each bring qualities of leadership, skill and experience that will rub off on the younger girls. “The freshmen have adapted quickly to our type of playing and their knowledge of the game is very high,” said Rohn.
The men’s and women’s teams enter the year with high goals to achieve. A new head coach looking to take his newly acquired program to the next level and a streak of perfection for the other will surely lead to more storylines to come.