The Maryville College basketball team featured a legion of young talent last year, with many sophomores and juniors seeing considerable minutes on the court. A year later, those same players are juniors and seniors and are mature starters for the Scots.
Junior wing player Spencer Shoffner was one of those young players that met his baptism by fire in the 2013-2014 season.
“We were young still, but we just came out and gave it our all,” Shoffner said when reflecting back on his sophomore year.
The 6’1” shooting guard from Oak Ridge, Tenn. certainly did give it his all last season, as he averaged 29.2 minutes of playing time and 12.1 points per game. Shoffner was a major contributor to the Scots season average of 82.3 points per game last year.
The junior was primed and ready for another standout performance in 2014-2015 but suffered a lower back injury early in pre-season.
“It [the injury] was caused by weak core muscles,” Shoffner said, explaining his injury. “You just don’t realize how big your core is; it’s your base,” he said. “I didn’t practice for two to three weeks, but now I’m a brand new man.”
After his return to practice, Shoffner participated in the rigorous pre-season schedule that the team endures every year.
“Preseason was tough and it always is; we call it Maryville madness,” he said. “It went really well for us… even better than last year.”
With pre-season under their belt, the Scots moved their focus to the home opener against Center College.
Shoffner played 20 minutes, scoring nine points and recording two rebounds and one assist. However, Maryville lost that game 73-62.
“We struggled, and that loss woke us up,” Shoffner said. “We’re going to come out strong and I believe we will end up winning a lot of our games,” he concluded.
The Scots indeed did come out strong as they beat rival Emory and Henry on the road 75-71 three days after their opening loss.
“It was a tight game and I enjoyed playing in that kind of atmosphere,” Shoffner said. “They came out lighting us up, but we made some crucial plays late in the second half.”
Some of those crucial plays were made at the free throw line.
“Logan [Brewer] and Antonio [Jackson] had some clutch free throws to help us win,” Shoffner said.
He finished the Emory game as the leading scorer with 16 points during his 35 minutes on the court, as well as producing seven rebounds.
Though the junior is a standout on the court, he constantly works to improve his game.
“My biggest goal for this year is to be more of a verbal leader,” he said. “That’s not in my personality, but I’m trying to bust out of that, especially because Oscar [Butler] will be graduating next year and he has been our big leader,” Shoffner said. “I want to bring more energy out there on the court, and they [the players] count on me for that.”
Coaches also look for Shoffner to do big things this season. “I feel like he has a big upside to his game, and he should be one of our leading scorers,” said head men’s basketball coach Randy Lambert.
With the help of upperclassmen like Shoffner, the Scots look for an outstanding 2014-2015 season.
“We’ve all got some games under our belt, and we’re not young anymore,” Shoffner said. “We want to win… we don’t want to leave the gym without a W.
Maryville resumes play December 6th at Berry College.