The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.

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Men look to hit ground running

The+men%27s+baskeball+team+huddles+up+in+a+home+matchup+last+season.
The men's baskeball team huddles up in a home matchup last season.

The men's baskeball team huddles up in a home matchup last season.

Angel Strack/courier staff

Angel Strack/courier staff

The men's baskeball team huddles up in a home matchup last season.

Becca Langys, Courier Staff

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eason, the Western Illinois University men’s basketball team looks to start the season strong as they begin their five-month journey this Saturday. The team hopes to end with a spot in the March Madness tournament. While March seems but a million miles away, each step is crucial in achieving their goal of a championship. Their first steps will be taken in our very own Western Hall this upcoming weekend, finally making it time to see what the Leathernecks are truly made of.

With the end goal of a championship in mind, the Leathernecks have been preparing vigorously since the conclusion of their previous season. They have spent countless hours as a team in the weight room getting bigger, faster and stronger in order to prepare for this upcoming season.

On top of spending time in the weight room, the Leathernecks have also put an emphasis on the overall quality of their gameplay. Throughout the months of their offseason and during their practices leading up to this first game, the Western Illinois men’s basketball team has been making major moves in order to improve upon their previous season. These moves include working on overall skill development, working on being sharper offensively on the court, getting the rebound and being in the right spots on defense. Both their offense and defense look to be sharper this season compared to last season.

A good team not only needs the skills to be successful, but they also need great team chemistry. Lucky for the Leathernecks, team chemistry is not an aspect that Western will have any sort of problem with. The men’s basketball team currently has fifteen men on their roster, only three of which are new players this season. The majority of the team is made up of returning players, making the team chemistry very strong.

Western’s men’s basketball head coach Billy Wright has also put a large emphasis this year on the health of his players. The team, on top of lifting and practicing, has also been making time for adequate stretching and sleep in order to keep the players healthy and injury free as the season approaches. He wants his team to be at their very best during each and every game, and the only way that this is possible is if his players are healthy.

The Leathernecks lost a couple of big players last season, including senior guards Jabari Sandifer, Mike Miklusak and Garret Covington. Western is looking to fill the shoes of those graduates with a couple veteran players who have been in the program for several years now. Junior center Brandon Gilbeck plans to step into a leadership role this season, striving to focus on communication on the court.

Gilbeck really wants to see his team succeed, and in order to do that, he recognizes that his team needs a couple of new leaders, stating that, “losing all of the seniors last year means that we lost our leaders.” Because of this, Gilbeck as well as the other more experienced players must step into a leadership role in order to strengthen the team as a whole.

Wright is also looking to his veteran players to step up and lead the team in place of his previous leaders who have now graduated.

“Look at guys like Brandon Gilbeck, Dalan Ancrum, Delo Bruster, Jeremiah Usiosefe and C.J. Duff,” Wright said. “Those five have the most experience returning, so I’m really looking for them step up and fill the void of losing three seniors. I am anxious to see what
they do.”

Coach Wright has expressed excitement for this season in a multitude of ways. He is excited not only because his players are healthy, but because many players this season are stepping into new roles and facing challenges that they have never experienced before. The team gets a fresh start and there are endless possibilities. He is excited to see just how well his team will perform this season.

The expectations for Western‘s men’s basketball team have been set very high this season. The team intends to continue working hard in order to bounce back from last season and get more wins than they have in the past.

Between new leadership on the court and high amounts of team chemistry and motivation, the Leathernecks will be a force to be reckoned with during their upcoming season.

The Leatherneck men’s basketball team kicks off their season this Saturday Nov. 11th in Western Hall at 7pm.

Twitter: beccalangysxo

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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
Men look to hit ground running