In his grand finale after 39 seasons as Maryville College men’s head basketball coach, Randy Lambert should feel good going into the season with the number of returners he has. Lambert has 13 players returning to this year’s team, while adding some big additions to the team from freshmen.
The Scots are ranked 22 in the nation in pre-season polls, also they are coming off of a playoff appearance from last year which will add motivation to repeat and go further this year. Throughout Lambert’s tenure as Maryville’s coach, word around campus is that this is one of the best teams he has coached. This year’s team excels in experience, leadership, grit, determination, and most importantly scoring.
To recap last year’s season, the team had an overall record of 22-7 going 14-2 in conference play. On top of that, the Scots were nearly unbeatable at home, going 14-1, with an insane student section to give them the edge they needed. The team as a whole shot 46.3 percent from the field while shooting an impressive 38.1 percent from three lead by Calvin Songster shooting at 48.1 percent.
With that high 3pt percentage lead by Songster, the team averaged 82.4 points per game. This is not only the last rodeo for Lambert as Maryville’s coach, but also for the seniors who will lace up the shoes for the last first time on Nov. 17. When asking some of the seniors how it feels to be ranked 22 in pre-season polls, starting point guard Kaleb Estes stated that “he appreciates the knowledge, but it means nothing if we don’t perform when time comes.” This goes in hand with the determination he is leading the team with to have to repeat from last year’s success. He added, “We are trying to repeat as conference champs, and go further in the NCAA tournament to potentially win the whole thing.” Estes has seen the floor a lot over his career, and last year he averaged 24.9 minutes per game in his junior campaign.
Dante Hoppa is another senior who is trying to send himself and Lambert out on the right note. “It’s cool to know that my class will be Lambert’s last class he will coach, and that the seniors and I will do everything possible to send him off on top,” Said Hoppa. He also commented on being ranked #22 in the nation, “It is a great accomplishment, but it is only pre-season and there is a long season ahead.” Hoppa had the third highest three-point percentage on the team, while adding length to the defensive side being able to guard anybody on defense.
Every team needs inspiration and motivation which is what Joshua Brooks and Daquan Summers bring to the table. Brooks has been out of play for a while after suffering head injuries that put a halt to his season last year. This year, Brooks is adamant on contributing to the team on the floor, adding another defensive presence and his slashing mentally on offense.
His conscious effort to get back on the court with his teammates has added extra fuel to the fire to give the team inspiration to overcome any obstacles set ahead. Brooks is excited that the team is bringing back eight seniors that all have the same goal in mind: chasing a title.
Summers is a feisty combo guard who is willing to take the challenge to guard the opponent’s best perimeter player. Summers is from the heart of Nashville, TN and his play on the court represents that. He is always in the face of the opponent discouraging them to play “their game.”
Summers is a pest on the court. Some say he reminds them of Patrick Beverley, the former Houston Rockets guard. He has a natural instinct for the ball and a quick trigger to jump the passing lane for a steal and take it coast-to-coast for a bucket.
The Scots are set to host the Maryville College Classic on Nov. 17, and tip-off is at 3:00 p.m.. All support is weclome as we would like to send the Coach Randy Lambert and our seniors out “on top.”