By Cristiana Votta
With the anticipation of the senior day game on Feb. 23 -— the ESPN Ramada BracketBuster against Charleston Southern home at 5 p.m. — the men’s basketball team trains hard and looks forward to its upcoming competition.
Coming off of a 67-63 win against Marist (7-18) on Feb. 17, the Broncs (15-3, 10-6 MAAC) leap into action with just two games to follow this weekend’s matchup against Charleston Southern (14-9, 9-3 BSC). The Broncs centralized their focus on sticking with what they’ve learned as a team so far and continuing to build as a unit.
“Togetherness is the word I would use to describe what we’ve learned,” senior center Dera Nd-Ezuma said. “Our coaches always emphasize facing adversity and how by staying together and playing hard, we can overcome tough situations.”
Head Coach Kevin Baggett held a similar stance and believes that a strong persona on the court has been a solid point in the Broncs’ game that has gotten them through close matchups, such as the one against Marist.
“I just think that as the season goes on and you’re playing those close games and you learn how to win them, it builds character on your team,” Baggett said. “They just continue to compete so panic never shows. That’s just a characteristic of this team that’s been something we’ve done since the start of the season it shows the togetherness of our team.”
Although the BracketBuster weekend of play has more of an effect on some of the larger Division I schools, the Broncs see it as more of a way to keep learning, preparing and advancing toward the NCAA Tournament.
“Every game is important, whether it’s a conference game or a non-conference game,” Baggett said. “Our guys understand it’s important, and we need to continue because we want to get to the NCAA Tournament. The remaining games on our schedule must be won to even have a consideration of getting there.”
Statistically, in the game against Marist, players such as junior forward Danny Stewart with 14 points and junior guard Anthony Myles and senior guard Jon Thompson with 13 points each stood out as key players, but they weren’t the only ones.
“There are so many guys on our team that have been doing well lately,” Baggett said. “All of the guys have been doing so many good things and it’s not just one individual, so it makes me happy that we’ve been performing as a team over anything else.”
With performance rates and expectations high, the Broncs strive toward success in their last few weekends.
“We just want to continue to win and to build momentum going into the last two games and going into the conference tournament,” Baggett said. “It’s our last home game and senior day for Thompson and Nd-Ezuma. I want to send those guys out with a bang on their last home game so there’s a lot on the line. I just want those guys to go out as winners.”
With senior-day emotions running high, the team feels passionately about its last game in Alumni Gym this season.
“Obviously it is my last year so there is definitely a little extra emotion every time I step on the basketball court,” Nd-Ezuma said.
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