Sports

2014 basketball preview: expectations high

By: Warren Younger

basketball

The T-Birds Basketball teams are coming off seasons that any college would be proud of.

The Women’s team won the national championship and the men’s team finished the season with the best record in the conference and are the reigning regional champions.

This season is looking to be more of the same.

Women’s head coach, Kori Stephenson, says while the journey to repeat as national champions will be tough it will be easier than before.

“These girls already know what it takes to win,” Stephenson said. “It’s easier for them because they already know how to do it.”

When asked what some challenges heading into the new season Stephenson replied by saying the team is younger.

“We have a lot of new members this year,” Stephenson said. “We have to learn how to integrate those players and learn how to play as a team again.”

The first scrimmages of the new season were part of the JUCO Jamboree.

The Jamboree gives teams an opportunity to scrimmage other schools before the season starts.

Going into the Jamboree, Stephenson said that defense is the biggest priority.

“We have to play better defense,” Stephenson said. “That is the biggest priority right now.”

The team is coming off the best season a school can have as the T-Birds Women’s team won the NJCCA National Championship.

“The goal is always to win it again,” Stephenson said. “I think this team can do it.”

On the men’s side they are coming off an impressive season of their own as the reigning division champs.

Sophomore and Captain Charles Wardell likes his team’s chances of winning the title again.

“Oh yeah we definitely have the talent to win the division and honestly I think we have what it takes to win the National title too,” Wardell said.

Wardell is in his first season with MCC as a transfer player from Minnesota.

Despite that, Wardell said the team is looking good after the Jamboree.

“In our first game at the Jamboree we looked off,” Wardell said. “But we turned it around in the second game and played much better.”

The T-Birds Men’s squad went 1-1 in their games at the Jamboree and even though the games didn’t count in the standings, Wardell said the team took away some good things from the games.

“We are better on defense now,” Wardell said. “We watched game film after the Jamboree and we saw the problems we need to fix.”

Looking at what the season has in store and the path to the National Championships, Wardell said that the team has something to prove.

“Yeah we have a chip on our shoulder,” Wardell said. “The team came close last season but couldn’t make it, the goal this season is to take it one step further.”

When asked if there are any key players to look out for, Wardell said to be on the lookout for Andrew Jones.

“Jones is a really good shooter,” Wardell said. “He did well at the Jamboree too.”

“I think Jones is the guy all the fans will want to be on the lookout for,” Wardell said.

The season kicks off for the T-Birds on Nov. 7 as the men’s squad will travel to Texas to square off against New Mexico Junior College.

The Women’s squad will start their title defense the next day on Nov. 8 as they host Salt Lake Community College.

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These are archived stories from Mesa Legend editions before Fall 2018. See article for corresponding author.

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