The GC men’s basketball team aims to be a competitive force this season with an abundance of new and returning talent that will allow them to pose a noticeable threat in the PBC rankings.
Having ended the 2017-18 season 11-17 and just missing out on a chance to compete in the PBC tournament, the Bobcats plan to bounce back with a positive mindset and a strong will to compete at the top.
“Last season was a learning year for the guys,” said head coach Mark Gainous. “We were relying on more freshman than we ever have since I’ve been apart of GC basketball. I appreciated that they hung in there and competed, and we still had the chance to make the tournament. It’s not easy to do that when you’re playing primarily freshmen and sophomores.”
The team ended their last season ranked No. 9 in the PBC. Gainous plans to utilize the team’s strong lineup of returners in addition to its newly acquired talent to secure a solid team that will set the precedent for seasons to come.
“I want to get back to being the best defensive team in the PBC like we were two seasons ago,” Gainous said. “We have a better shooting team this year, so hopefully if we’re able to make more shots and play better defense, then we’ll definitely be in the competitive mix.”
In order to achieve the most success possible, the team decided to make slight changes to their style of play that differs from that of previous seasons.
“We’re planning to be more up-tempo this season, whereas the last couple of years we’ve had to play at a little bit slower pace,” Gainous said. “It’s going to be a lot like we played in 2015 and 2016 when we led the league in three-pointers. We want to play a little bit faster, shoot earlier in the clock and make more threes.”
In addition to the numerous returning players, the Bobcats picked up six freshmen and junior Colton Collins, a transfer student from Emmanuel College.
“Colton will be one of our best shooters because he’ll give us a consistent three-point threat,” Gainous said. “I also really expect the freshmen to contribute this year, though we do plan to redshirt a couple to help them develop more through the program.”
Preparing for his first season competing as a Bobcat, freshman guard Wesley Simpson said he expects the team to have a very successful year filled with conference wins and team bonding.
“We have our eyes on the NCAA tournament,” Simpson said. “With the success we’ve been having in the preseason, I know that’s achievable. I’m really looking forward to getting some team chemistry going and just getting involved with the guys.”
Notable returners include seniors Desmond Mitchell-LaFlam and Isaac Thomas, junior Kohl Roberts and sophomores Jordan Thomas, Chapin Rierson and Justin Cave.
“It’s a good feeling to know that we have around seven or eight starting players but can only start five,” Gainous said. “Our quality of depth is the best it’s been since I’ve been head coach.”
Thomas, who’s set to claim the title of all-time leading rebounder in PBC history, is eager to compete in his last season as a Bobcat and knows the team possesses the ability to obtain their anticipated success.
“Normally, it’s sometimes hard to predict what the season will be like, but we just have so many returners this year, so we’re very excited,” Thomas said. “We’re definitely going to run the ball more up and down the court and take more shots.”
The Bobcats’ home opener will be on Nov. 13 against Shorter University at 7 p.m.