Only one team in the MIAA can end their season with a win, and unfortunately for the Albion men’s basketball team, they came up just short of an MIAA tournament championship.
The Britons got off to a hot start early on in conference play, winning five of their first six games including a home victory against the current 24th ranked team in the country, Hope College. Albion held a share of first place in the league after six games, but had some ups-and-downs in the second half of the season, going 3-4 and finishing in third place with a league record of 8-6.
“We would string together some good wins and we faced some tough stretches of losses as we grew as a team and learned the meaning of handling success,” said student assistant coach Jayson Mocini, Saugatuck senior. “We were out to prove people wrong and I think we responded well from last season being projected last in the conference to finishing third.”
Despite the team’s inconsistent play in the second half of the season, they found themselves competing in the MIAA tournament just one year after posting the worst overall record in the last 10 years of the program. A nine-point loss to Calvin in the semifinals sent Albion into their offseason Wednesday night and although the team improved greatly from last year, head coach Jody May doesn’t want the team to get complacent.
“We finished third and that is a big step, but I don’t want to leave here claiming a moral victory,” May said to gobrits.com after the game.
Heading into the offseason, Mocini described the team’s biggest strength this year as their defense when they showed up to play, but he alluded to the fact that there are many areas the team can improve this offseason.
“Obviously training and polishing moves is non-negotiable as far as becoming the best individually to help the team goes, but I think it’s important for our guys to really stick together this offseason, train hard, practice hard and lift hard and work on our mental poise and championship mentality,” Mocini said.
For Lawrence Ridgell, River Rouge senior, there are no more college offseasons. The lone senior on the team finished the season tied for first in scoring and played an instrumental role in turning the program around after last season’s struggles. Ridgell was dismissed from the team in the middle of last season, but rejoined the team for the 2013-2014 campaign.
After the semifinal game against Calvin, May was grateful for Ridgell’s time with the program.
“I thanked Lawrence for his passion to Albion basketball,” May said. “If we take a piece of that, we’ll take another step [next season].”
Photo courtesy of Lowell McGinnis