By Maxmillian Robinson
After not participating in collegiate play for over 365 days, the time has come for the ball to hit the hardwood again, under meaningful circumstances. The men’s and women’s basketball teams began competitive play in the Northeast-10 (NE10) conference during the post-pandemic stage on Nov. 3 for the women and Nov. 13 for the men's team. Both teams are off to a prestigious start. As of press time, the men were at 3-1, while the women stood at 1-3. Both teams share excitement about being back on the big stage.
“There’s no better feeling of competing with your teammates and winning,” said men's basketball forward Chris Coalmon, a graduate student. “ I believe we are ready to take the world by storm.”
“It's an amazing feeling to be back,” said Kayla Hall, a graduate student who plays forward for the women’s basketball team.
Disregarding the outcome of not being able to participate in college basketball last year, both teams used it to their advantage instead of creating a lost season.
“Last year was tough, just having to practice with no games to look forward to,” Hall said. “It was also hard to see other teams have the chance to play and us not being able to compete. From day one, we were all looking forward to playing in the season. But, now that we are back, we are super excited to be back in action!”
Sophomore men's forward Andrew Delaney said, “It was definitely tough having our season cancelled last year. But, I feel like our team handled the adversity well. We used a majority of last year’s time to work on team concepts, individual skill development and strength in the weight room. We trust all of the work that we’ve put in, and we’re ready to go.”
While the season is already underway, both aspects of the basketball program gained several skills that were produced over the offseason and in their personal lives that helped to make them into the best athletes possible for this season.
“On the court, I’ve worked on finishing around the rim and getting stronger physically to rebound, set screens and guard people harder,” Delaney said. “Off the court, I’ve spent more time studying the game, but also studying great players and how they approach the game. One of the reasons our basketball team leaders [Ronnie Silva and Chris Coalmon] are great is because they practice great mental habits. They stay focused and they’ve taught me a lot about mindset and mentality.”
Andrew Delaney credits his team captains and mentors for where he is in his basketball career today. Photo from AU Athletics.
Hall said that during the off season, she was working out on campus with strength and conditioning coach Keith Ferrara. “If I didn't lift with him, I would lift with my sister, who is a personal trainer. I would also come to use the shooting gun to make sure I was getting shots up and working on different things that needed improvement.”
Being isolated from their teammates for long periods of time could have caused an imbalance in chemistry, making it harder to gel with each other once they hit the floor. The basketball program made a valuable effort to prevent the matter over the offseason.
“We’ve gone to many events on campus as a team to support other teams,” Coalmon said.
“[Last year] we would have a lot of team zoom [meetings], go out as a team for dinner, and have a team trip to Manhattan,” Hall said. “This year, we had a team picnic where we listened to music and played different games. We also continue to go to dinner occasionally as a team. Of course, having partners to go shoot with is a way of building chemistry.”
Graduate student Chris Coalmon is off to a great start, as of Nov. 21, averaging 15 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2 assists. Photo from AU Athletics.
In the midst of what looks to be a successful season for the Brown and Gold team members, the future looks bright. That assumption is well deserved, due to the integrity and grit that all team members have shown over the past year, having the patience to wait for this season to arrive. The only thing that remains is what goals do these players hope to realistically accomplish?
“We’re in pursuit of an NE-10 Championship and the NCAA Tournament to follow,” Delaney said. “From an individual standpoint, I’m looking to do whatever it takes to help us win. I want to celebrate with my guys with a championship ring on my finger.”
It looks clear. We’re in it, to win it. All.