The Scots men’s basketball team entered this season with the daunting task of trying to win with a new head coach and plenty of new faces. Despite a rough first half of the season, the Scots are still in position to turn things around and finish this season off strong.
Going into the season, there were plenty of uncertainties surrounding the program. The team recently lost eight seniors and the winningest coach in school history, Randy Lambert. As a result, head coach Raul Placeres and his staff have had to coach a team that has only two players—senior Joshua Brooks and junior JR Sanders—who have played significant minutes at the college level prior to this year.
“When you lose eight seniors, you never really know what to expect,” said assistant coach Sean Jones. “All you can really do is kind of look at the potential and talent that the players have and go from there.”
The season could not have started off any worse for the Scots. They went on a nine-game losing skid. The losing streak was a big test for the Scots. It forced the team to find its identity and grow closer together.
“Is this what I expected? No, but this was always a possibility,” Jones said. “You never want to be in this spot but now that we are here, we can see that we have learned a lot from this.”
The youth and inexperience was very evident to the coaches, fans, players and opponents. Typically, a college basketball team has one or two freshmen players that are called to action and are assisted by older players who can bring them along and teach them the process. The Scots are just the opposite. On a team where 15 out of 17 players have had no real meaningful experience playing college basketball, nearly everyone has had to contribute and learn right away.
Felix Uadiale comes down with a rebound.
Photo taken by Savannah Stewart.
“Playing college basketball is a very big adjustment. It’s definitely a challenge,” said freshman Felix Uadiale. “I had to learn plays and how to execute them in a short amount of time. However, I feel like I am adjusting pretty well.”
The Scots current record sits at 3-11 (2-5). The record does not show how close the team is to taking that next step, and many players have stepped up.
In addition to being the lone senior leader, Brooks is averaging 11.1 points per game. Sophomore Kevin Chong is shooting 37.6% from behind the arc. Freshmen Brice Martin and Uadiale have both twice earned the USA South Rookie of the Week award. Freshman Donnie Jackson and sophomore Dalton Coleman played very little during the first semester but have started and performed well in the last couple of games.
Kevin Chong (1) brings the ball up the court for the Scots.
Photo taken by Savannah Stewart.
“Right now, the mindset going forward is that even with our current record, we still have an opportunity to compete for a conference championship,” said Uadiale. “We are past what happened in the first half, and we are ready to work towards the second half.”
The message that Placeres and his staff are preaching is that the team needs to continue to do two things: give effort and stay focused. By performing these two actions, the Scots can keep themselves in any game. Everyone in the program has bought into this message.
The team is continuing to grow each and every day. They have adapted to the adverse situations and problems that have been thrown at them. They have seen everything that you can see within a season, and they still have half a season left to play. The record of this team does not reflect the attitude of this team.
“I feel good about what we have going on,” said Jones. “Our league is wide open and if we can stick to what we do, believe in each other, and continue to buy in, then we can become a team that no one else wants to play in the tournament.”
The potential to become a good ball club and win the USA South conference is still there. The Scots just need to settle in, play their game and continue to grow.