84°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2013-14 Beacons basketball preview

Lauren+Perra%2C+womens+basketball
Lauren Perra, women’s basketball

The University of Massachusetts Boston Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams are coming off solid 2012-2013 campaigns that saw both teams fall in the Little East Conference Quarterfinals. However, this season Men’s coach Charlie Titus and Women’s coach Courtney Mattingly both believe their teams have a chance to improve and surprise many people this year.
Coming into this season, Coach Mattingly expects her team to improve and be able to compete with anyone they step on the court with. Led by reigning LEC Rookie of the Year Olivia Murphy, seniors Shelby Buck, Elisa Ogawa, and Andrea Suffredini, and juniors Kirsten Morrison, Brittany Moore, and Lauren Perra, this team has a very solid core of players returning from last season.
According to fifth-year coach Mattingly, her upperclassmen know what is expected of them this year, and at the same time, know what to expect from their teammates and their opponents. This year, Coach Mattingly said she is looking for “more consistency” out of her upperclassmen. They have the court experience, so now they just have to prove that they have the mental toughness to compete with some of the top teams in the region.
Prior to the start of the season, the team was picked to finish fifth in the Little East Conference, which was the highest pre-season ranking the team has ever received in the program’s history. However, Coach Mattingly said her team “doesn’t give it much thought” when it comes to the polls. “Southern Maine is close to the top, as expected, but with teams 2-6, you have to come to play every night,” Mattingly said. “We don’t give it much thought, but the players might find it motivating.”
Outside of her upperclassmen, Coach Mattingly felt this year’s freshman class will supply the team with a bright future. She looked for more quickness and athleticism at the post while recruiting, and she felt she has found players that can do just that. She thought her freshmen “may be inconsistent at first, but they will play some minutes and contribute.”
Lastly, Coach Mattingly will have her team focus heavily on defense this season. “[Our] goal is to defend, to keep the game close and give ourselves a chance at the end,” said Mattingly. It certainly helped on Nov.19 as the team hammered host Simmons College 71-37 in their first game of the season. Murphy led the way with 20 points and 10 assists, while freshman Katrina Edwards chipped in with 13 points and six rebounds.
The men’s team, coming off a 12-13 record and a tough first-round exit in the LEC Quarterfinals, look to continue their ascent toward the top of the Conference. However, with the loss of nine key contributors due to graduation or leaving the team for personal or academic reasons  plus an early season injury to starting center Kadeem Coulter  the Beacons enter this season already with their backs against the wall.
Their strength of schedule does not help either. Aside from tough LEC competition against Rhode Island College, Eastern Connecticut State, and Southern Maine, the Beacons have tough non-conference games against Tufts, MIT, and defending NCAA Division III National Champions Amherst College.
However, Coach Titus, who is entering his 38th season as Head Coach of the Beacons, felt that this team “is in a process of growing and getting better.” Titus said, “most likely we may struggle early but we expect to get better and grow as a team through commitment and hard work.”
Despite the loss of quite a few notable players, there are still several members of the team that will be worth watching this season. Seniors Dontreal Thomas and Captain BJ Rosary bring experience to a new-look squad, while junior captains Carl Joseph and Quadry Allen bring leadership to the program. Junior transfer Greg Young has a chance to be a top performer right away as well as underclassmen Tyquan Ekejiuba, Sam Freeman, Omar Benabicha, Jerard Mayes and Selim Omerovic. Coach Titus also said there “will be a few players that could surprise everyone” this season.
In the Little East Conference Preseason polls, the Beacons were picked to finish last, but Coach Titus echoed Coach Mattingly’s words: “I don’t pay attention to the polls.”
“I’m not happy with nor [do I] agree with our predicted finish in the conference,” said Titus. “I trust that if the players are paying attention, they are insulted and feel disrespected with intentions to prove voters wrong.”
Titus’ team will also have the same “defense-first” mentality that Mattingly’s crew will have. Titus added, “the team will definitely play different this year. I think the brand of ball will be fun to watch.” It should a good year for both teams, and it’s safe to say that Beaconville is really looking forward to the upcoming season.