M. Basketball looks to set high standards for season

On November 1, the Colby’s men’s basketball team kicked off what it hopes to be its best season in recent years. The past few seasons have been about building the foundation for a competitive team, and under the guidance of head coach amd alum Damien Strahorn ’02, this year holds strong potential.
After assistant coaching under the esteemed Dick Whitmore, Strahorn took the reins in the 2011-2012 season, and the program has only improved since. As his fifth season gets underway, Strahorn and his team are eager to prove themselves in both the league and the NCAA. With a strong veteran core, depth behind it, and a coaching staff that has instilled a new confidence in the team, the group is pushing forward with a very specific goal in mind: a NESCAC championship.
Seven seniors, spearheaded by captains Chris Hudnut ’16 and Luke Westman ’16, make up the bulk of this year’s roster. They also constitute the first recruiting class under the new coaching staff, and they have been crucial in the team’s recent development. These veterans will bring their experience and skill sets to a team that will hopefully continue its trend of improvement.
Injuries proved to be an obstacle for last year’s group, so staying healthy is an important objective for this season. While this is not always a factor under a team’s control, maintaining a healthy mindset is—which is another essential goal for this year’s team. “When you have a championship as a goal, it is easy to get caught up in the end result,” says coach Strahorn. “We have to keep a daily focus on getting better and playing the game the right way.” If they can achieve this, the 2015-16 Mules will have a good chance of reaching that championship.
March is a long way off, however, and there is a lot of playing to be done. The season will get underway on November 20 at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and November 24 will mark the first home game against Thomas College. The last two games of the first semester will be played at home against Bowdoin and Bates, and these two NESCAC competitions will be followed by a trip all the way to Orlando, Florida, where the Mules will compete in the Land of Magic Classic at the end of December. This tournament is one of the largest Division III basketball events in the country, and it is an exciting opportunity for this year’s Mules. It will provide an opportunity for growth on the court, considering the Mules will be competing against two very tough opponents, St. Scholastica and Mount Union, but it will allow for team development off the court, as well. The tournament will be a tough test for the Mules, however, and when they return, things won’t get any easier.
NESCAC play will present a fair challenge in itself. Around the league, there are many teams that haven’t lost a significant number of players to graduation. “I think any night anyone will be able to beat anyone,” remarked Strahorn. The Mules will only play four league games at home this year, which will prove to be a challenge, but still aim to “[establish] a consistently high level of play over the [league] games… The team that does that will likely become champions come early March.”
A deeper team and improved defensive play will allow the 2015-2016 Mules to make great strides from last season. Colby’s Men’s Basketball will continue to build on their pre-existing strengths, and they are looking forward to a great year.

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