"Mate, this is by far the hardest thing I've ever done" - said one of the Basketball Exec while selecting during Men Basketball team trials. The standard of basketball exhibited this year was very high. With the new Execs labouring through their first real moments of authority when cutting people, it came to pass that from 120 turning up on the first day, 20 new players were selected by the end of the 3rd day. And thus, the 2016/17 Warwick University Men's Basketball Team was formed.
I cannot express the enthusiasm with which each player has attacked this new year. From some wide-eyed Freshers tip-toeing into the hall, to the flair and bombast some Freshers ruled the hall with. I think we really do have a winning team this year and we are looking to fight for a promotion!
Speaking as an Exec, it was a strange moment possessing absolute authority over the direction university life was going to take for 120 people this year. Making a university team can dramatically change your experience and friend group, especially if you are a freshman because of the time commitment to the sport. It was scary yet intoxicating. We discussed with improvised theatricalities which our predecessors had surely done from theirs. We shouted and trained drills with knowledge only of what we thought would look right. I truly believed we learned what actual responsibility felt like. It was with pain we cut people, but joy when the result was this fantastic team we had created with our own plans.
I want to talk about the new team now. This team is a team, not a group of players. We look to each other as a source of strength and scoring. However, we do have stars, notably the first team captain Shaq Amon-Ra. Yet some freshers look like potential stars in their own right, an example being Chad Frost-Smith. However, no where was this winning team's mentality better represented than in our first game.
The game started with Shaq opening with some big 3-pointers to get us on the bench (yes, a solid bench player here) fired up! However, the opposition was as athletic as you can get for the first week of games, with zero fitness having being done over the summer by most of us. They also had several 6ft6 giants with them...us, not so much. We struggled through to half time being down 4 point. Our coach got us behind the court and gave us a pep talk to get us fired us. We focused, and we rallied. This all started with the Player of the Week: Owen Li. He made several incredible plays including an And-1 against a player nearly a foot taller than him. We rallied in the third and the score of that quarter was 26-4. We held the lead, albeit nervously, through the 4th and came out with a victory. This was a fantastic showing of what we can to together as a team.
I think we should all look forward to more of these victories and look to grow as a team.
With a coming game on Wednesday and the Men's Second team showing potential whilst losing their first game, there is plenty of opportunity for more wins and more glory for the Warwick Bears Basketball teams this year.