The weather is getting colder and the nights are getting longer. That can mean only one thing: basketball season is upon us. The Kingsmen have started off the season with two losses at the hands of Division I Loyola Marymount University and the El Salvadorian National Team in nonconference play. Junior forward Jeremy Sulker-Hall said the team’s talent and athleticism have to be taken advantage of in order to win games.
“We’re a little bit robotic right now. We’ve definitely started out flat. We’ve got a lot of new guys and everybody is learning the plays. I’m looking forward to running the offense more fluidly once we get more time on the court together,” Sulker-Hall said. “We’ve got athleticism that most SCIAC teams lack. We just need to shoot better. We shot 35 percent the other day and only lost by six (against El Salvador). If we shoot even a little bit better, we win that game easily.”
California Lutheran University has started out cold, shooting 43 percent against LMU and 35 percent against El Salvador. It isn’t smart to base expectations off of these two games against a Division I opponent and a national team. While Loyola Marymount beat the Kingsmen handily, CLU actually shot a better percentage from the field than LMU, holding them to under 40 percent from the field. The difference was in free throws and three-pointers.
This year, there are four transfer students and five freshmen on the varsity roster. Half of the team is playing for CLU for the first time this year. Sulker-Hall added that bringing in four transfers, all juniors, has brought depth to the Kingsmen roster.
“We’ve proven that we are a deep team,” Sulker-Hall said. “We have more talent along the bench than we’ve had in a long time. We, as upperclassmen, need to be more vocal. As we continue to play together, our leaders will step up, and I’m confident that shots will start to fall for us.”
One of the main points of emphasis for the Kingsmen is getting the offense down and confidence in their ability to run it. What makes that difficult is the lingering injury to senior point guard Steven Davis, causing him to play limited minutes. Davis is still rehabilitating from his knee injury that cut his junior season short, but said he feels close to 100 percent. According to Davis, trust in the offense and confidence in their ability to shoot the ball are the keys to winning SCIAC.
“The knee feels solid. It’s not quite at 100 percent, yet, but it’s getting stronger every week. Our defense is one of the best in SCIAC every year,” Davis said. “To get the offense going, we need to really focus on what our coaches and teammates are telling us. We need to trust the offense and shoot the ball with confidence.”
With nine new players, simply playing in games together will allow the team to run the offense more smoothly once conference play rolls around, according to senior guard Collin Knudsen.
“Both the returners and new guys have made a comfortable transition,” Knudsen said. “It will take some time to get the new guys incorporated into what it is we do on both offense and defense. We need to commit to playing hard. With time, we’ll get more comfortable with each other’s strengths. We all have the same goal in mind (to win SCIAC). We just need that mentality to transition to the court.”
The Kingsmen will take on Division I University of California Santa Cruz in Santa Cruz on Nov. 16. Their next home game will be on Nov. 20 at 7:30 p.m. when they host Bethesda Christian University.
Published Nov. 13, 2013