Along with steadily dropping temperatures and falling leaves, the beginning of November comes with another annual phenomenon: the start of the basketball season. This year, however, differs slightly from the past, with the season starting a full week early. The early start marks the first time in nearly 15 years that Division Three basketball games will be allowed on Nov. 8, rather than the typical Nov. 15 date.
For the Lyons, this means roughly five fewer practice days before the first game, but Head Coach Brian Walmsley remains confident. “Our guys are ready,” he said. “I think it’s very good that we have an experienced team this year.”
Despite having lost their top two scorers from the previous year—both all-conference players and in the top five scorers in the NEWMAC—the Lyons retained a strong core of experienced players. The 2018-2019 team is composed of four senior players, two juniors, and a smattering of talented sophomores and first-years. “It’s been a bit of change since last year,” said senior captain Riley Tetreault, “but things are coming together”.
In addition to the experience, the Lyons are a team coming into the new season with an abundance of well-earned confidence from their accomplishments last season, which included sweeping the previous national champion, Babson College, and defeating Springfield College, a team that finished in the top four. “We beat some quality teams along the way,” explained Walmsley, “and I think that gives our guys some added confidence. They now know that they can battle with top teams in our conference.”
This is no mean feat, as the NEWMAC conference has been considered one of the top men’s basketball conferences in the country for the past ten years—and that’s out of the country’s nearly 50 basketball leagues. Amidst this competition, the Lyons finished their last season tied for fourth in the NEWMAC. “We need to be higher this year,” said Walmsley. “Last year, we had to go to WPI. This time, we would like to host that first round game”.
Between Nov. 10 and finals week, the Lyons face a jam-packed three and half week period, filled with 10 non-league games, an exhausting task for any team. This stretch is only the beginning as, after the long break posed by finals week and winter vacation, the team has to reset, shake off the rust, and then face the second half of their season in which they play league games.
The basketball season “is a marathon, not a sprint,” said Walmsley. The games are closely packed, and the season stretches roughly six weeks longer than fall or spring sports. With this in consideration, the Lyons have been practicing less than usual; with practices down to about an hour and forty-five minutes as opposed to two or more hours. This is because, Walmsley explained, the team is quite a few players less than seasons past. “We want them to stay mentally fresh and not get fatigued over the course of our four-month season,” said Walmsley. “But overall, our guys are just are just chomping at the bit to play games.”