After graduating the most decorated senior class in program history, the SVSU men’s basketball team will look to begin a new chapter in 2017-18.
“We’re a very young team and just have to grow this season with experience,” head coach Randy Baruth said.
Following an up-and-down 2016-17 season, the team will begin its 2017-18 season Friday, Nov. 10, in the GLIAC/GLVC Challenge in Indianapolis against No. 3 Bellarmine.
“(Last year), we started out strong in the beginning, but three-quarters of the way into the season, we just couldn’t pull through,” Baruth said. “I completely accept the blame for the poor performance towards the latter parts of the season last year.”
Baruth’s plan to improve from last season involved getting in the gym frequently and improving team chemistry.
In the backcourt, sophomore Malik Garner and senior Mike Wells Jr. both decided they had needed to work on their jump shots in the offseason.
“I wanted to get bigger due to my smaller frame, but I also worked on my midrange jump shot and my dribbling during the offseason,” Garner said.
With seven new additions to the team, Wells and fellow senior Richie Roberts have a lot of responsibility in making sure the younger players stay on track.
“We’ve seen a lot of maturing out of the young players even through the first couple weeks,” Wells said. “The best part about being a senior leader is just seeing these young players grow.”
Garner echoed his teammate’s point.
“The first years are very coachable and talented,” he said.
One of the many young, talented players joining this year’s team is freshman guard James Toohey, a native of Australia.
“I’m very excited to play this year,” Toohey said. “I just want to try and make a positive impact for the team, not necessarily stats-wise, but just make a big impact to help us win. I would like to make it as far as we can and contend for a championship.”