On Friday, November 18, the Albion Men’s Basketball team heads to Angola, Indiana to face Ohio Wesleyan University as part of the St. Andrews Products Classic. This is the season opener for the Britons, who hope to improve on last year’s 14-12 record. Last season, the Brits finished third in the MIAA with a 9-5 record which is the second-best record the team has had under head coach Jody May, who is entering his ninth year as head coach.
“I was blessed to have played for great coaches and also worked for great coaches,” said May. “All good coaches take things from the coaches that they played for and the coaches they have worked for. Through the coaching careers and playing careers of others, I have developed my philosophy.”
The Brits are predicted to finish fourth in the MIAA behind Hope College, Alma College and Trine University, according to a poll released by the MIAA’s Director of Media Relations, Sheila Blackman.
“We’ve got a really good league,” May explained. He notes the second place team in the league for the 2015-2016 season, Alma College, was entered into the NCAA’s Division III Elite Eight tournament. The parity between the teams in the conference is astounding, with the Brits losing to the bottom-level teams last season, as well as almost defeating the first-place team.
“I know we’re going to get challenged in the non-conference games,” said May. Albion’s non-MIAA matches this year include Ohio Wesleyan, Kenyon College, Spring Arbor University and Northwood University. According to May, the Brits had the highest strength of schedule in the MIAA last season, and this year’s opponents are no slouches.
“It’s a little early to tell where we’re at right now,” he says, referring to the team’s chemistry and talent, “but I know with our non-conference schedule, we’ll figure some things out pretty quick.”
With the start of the new season comes new talent, and this year is no exception. The varsity basketball team has added four first-years to its roster: Shelby Township, Michigan’s Caden Ebeling; Flint, Michigan’s Aquavius Burks; Chicago’s Darius Branch and Detroit’s Mascio McCadney.
The players do not seem to be fazed by their unfavorable ranking in the poll. May asked his team to send him three goals for this season. Many said they wanted to win a conference championship and make an appearance at the NCAA tournament. May jokes, “And if you don’t have that as a goal, you probably shouldn’t be playing college basketball!”
Some of the players may have big dreams about the postseason, or even the championship, but Coach May has a much simpler goal for the season.
“I know it’s a little cliched, but this year we’re going to focus on today,” said May. “We want to win today. That is, putting in a great effort in practice, or if we’re playing a game today, we want to put in a great effort in winning today. And not being so caught up in what’s going on in the future. Instead, we want to win today.”
Albion’s first home game of the season is against Heidelberg University on Tuesday, November 22, at Kresge Gymnasium.
Photo courtesy of Albion Athletics.