Men’s basketball aims for success

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by Ian Kea

After an 8-point loss in the GNAC quarterfinals to Saint Joseph’s College of Maine, the Suffolk Rams men’s basketball squad has been eager this offseason to make a deeper run in a conference that holds nationally ranked teams.

According to sophomore transfer John Patch,  the team tries for “consistency, chemistry and practice, every day and in every way. We have to, and will, get better.” That is the key to success for the Ram’s men’s basketball squad this season.

Although the team knows what must be done, Patch believes the team needs something more to make their name known in the GNAC.

“We have the intangibles to be heavily competitive in the conference but we need to execute plays as well as have guys step up on the court,” he said. “We need to just do it. We need an all-around skill player, we need that one guy we can always rely on.”

Entering his 10th year at the helm, Coach Adam Nelson believes his veteran- based team can make a name for itself in the GNAC. With Houston native Sam Nwadike returning for his senior year, the Rams will have a top 10 conference scorer to keep an up-tempo, consistent offense. But to be competitive in the conference, it all starts with team chemistry according to coach Nelson.

Courtesy of Suffolk Athletics

“Team chemistry is something that we have preached since we returned to school in September,” said Nelson. “We have a veteran group, and they all understand how important it is to be a team if we want to win games.  As a staff, we use the word ‘together’ a lot … we want our guys to know that we are all in this together, the closer we are as a team, and knowing that your teammate has your back will go a long way.”

The Rams’ chemistry, on and off the court, is a necessity to playing competitively against opponents such as last year’s conference champions, Albertus Magnus, who ranked sixth nationally in Division-III basketball. With a conference of nationally ranked talent, the Rams have to be on high alert at all times according to Nelson.

“We play in one of the best basketball conferences in New England,” said Nelson. “Albertus Magnus is ranked No. 6 in the country in the Sporting News preseason poll. They won our league last year and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16. We know that there are no easy games in our league – it is a battle day in and day out.”

For such a competitive conference there is a need for a competitive strategy for Nelson and the Rams. By mixing up practice times and workouts Nelson keeps the Rams on their toes at all time.

“We have almost five full weeks of practice before we start playing games, it can be very monotonous. We have made a very concerted effort to keep our guys mentally fresh and not having a consistent practice time.  Last week was a great example.  Monday we practiced at 4 p.m., Tuesday we went at 6 a.m., Wednesday we did partner workouts spread out during the day, Thursday we went from 8 to 10 p.m., Friday we practiced at 2 p.m., and Saturday we came in at 8 a.m. I think this helps keep us focused, we keep preaching ‘no wasted days’, and by having different practice times each day, we are able to get the most out of our guys during each practice session.”

When it all boils down to it, this fourth ranked GNAC offense from last season has to simply “keep grinding” according to Patch. In the simplest of terms, Nelson sees that this squad, as long as they play together, can win together.

“We need to compete every night, play with toughness, and play together,” said Nelson. “We are a veteran team with a lot of very good pieces.  If we can bring it every day, and continue to grow as the season goes on, we should be in a good position to make some noise in the GNAC.”

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