Great things coming in basketball

There’s a buzz in Bartlett Gym these days. The sound resonates so loudly that they might have to rename it “the Hive.” There’s an aura of optimism and anticipation surrounding the Golden Gaels Men’s Basketball team as they prepare to begin the 2004-05 season.

“The enthusiasm and passion are there,” head coach Chris Oliver told the Journal. “Players have returned this year showing the results of a full commitment to off-season development, and the level of intensity at our practices has been encouraging.” After a disappointing 4-18 record in 2002-03, last year’s team improved to a 10-12 regular season record and playoff appearance. However, Oliver prefers to focus on the challenges ahead.

“It’s easy to go from bad to good,” he explained. “What’s difficult is going from good to great.” This year’s squad sees 10 members return from last year’s young and injury-plagued team, as well as six promising newcomers. Increased experience and maturity within the group has Oliver and many others looking to compete at a higher level this season.

“This is the most focused group of players I’ve seen in three years here,” Oliver said. “Every single guy has returned in better shape and with more polished skills.”

With more experience and maturity comes a better understanding among players of the goals and philosophy of this team.

“They understand that we’re not going to win on individual player strengths alone,” Oliver said.

Instead, Oliver said he promotes success through the team game.

On Sept. 5, Coach Oliver arranged for a pre-season visit from NCAA Division 1’s University of Tennessee-Chattanooga Mocs. “We wanted to challenge ourselves with the highest level of competition possible,” Oliver said. The Gaels fell behind early, but eventually settled down, playing with more patience and composure. Despite eventually coming up short in an 86-65 loss to the Mocs, the Gaels were by no means outmatched by the visiting Americans.

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