Men's basketball team prepares for new season
The Southeast men’s basketball team is preparing for a successful 2017-18 season after a rough 2016-17 season.
Last season, Southeast finished 15-18 overall and 9-7 within the Ohio Valley Conference. A big loss for the Redhawks will be their leading scorer from a year ago, Antonius Cleveland. Cleveland was signed by the Golden State Warriors over the summer.
Head coach Rick Ray said this year’s team is inexperienced due to the lack of Division I play.
“If you look at our team, we only got four guys that have ever played Division I college basketball,” Ray said. “So, we’re really inexperienced. The key for us is those experienced guys, passing down knowledge and information to our guys and then the new guys kicking up on things quickly. It’s going to be trial by fire because we need those new guys and experienced guys to come in and make some sort of an impact.”
Ray said the new players are eager to learn to help make the team better.
“To me, the thing that has really stood out to me is that those guys are being sponges right now,” Ray said. “They come into the office or watch tape or ask questions. So, as long as they wanna be guys who are gonna learn then we got a chance, but as soon as they turn off that knob and don’t wanna learn anymore, then we got a long ways to go.”
Junior guard Jonathan Dalton said it won’t be an issue with all of the newcomers.
“The newcomers we have are mature already, even the freshmen,” Dalton said.
Out of all of the new players, Ray said it’s too early to tell which ones will perform well.
“It’s too early to say and I would say, ‘We’ll see what happens when the popcorn is popping’ because some guys really come out and perform well in practice but it doesn’t transfer over to games,” Ray said. “It remains to be seen but we do have some guys I think that are skilled and can make some shots with a driving force.”
Sophomore guard Denzel Mahoney is one of the players who will be returning this season. Last season he averaged 14.9 points per game, a total of 23 steals, four blocks and 40 assists. Ray said that Mahoney’s return to the team shows a lot of loyalty to the program.
“Unfortunately there’s people always trying to make that transfer up and he showed a tremendous amount of loyalty by just being here,” Ray said. “What we need him to do is we need to go from a second team All-OVC performer to a first team All-OVC performer.”
Mahoney said he’s shown loyalty to Southeast because they believed in him even after he tore his ACL.
When looking at the returning players for Southeast, Ray said Dalton will be a key player.
“He’s gotta man that point guard position,” Ray said. “He showed a tremendous amount of leadership this offseason.”
With being an upperclassmen this season, Dalton will be taking on a big leadership role.
“It’s a challenging position to be in because I’m not really used to leading guys on a team, but since I am I have to step up to that challenge and be as successful that I can in that leadership,” Dalton said.
Southeast will play its first exhibition game at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 1, at the Show Me Center against Missouri S&T. The first regular season game will be at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 10, against Missouri Baptist at the Show Me Center.