The Choctaws Look To Push The Basketball This Season And Play With More Pace. By Corey Rholdon, Sports Editor
The Mississippi College men’s basketball team started their preseason practices last week. The team looks to take the next step this season and make it to the GSC tournament after coming up short last year.
The Choctaws are looking to push the ball and play at a faster pace this season. Junior forward Brandon Boston believes that energy and pace will help the team offensively. “In camp, we have been focusing on defense and getting into shape more. This season we plan on going up and down the court more, so we are going to need to be in great shape to do that,” said Boston.
Sophomore forward Jon Harding wants to see the team get back to the tempo which led the team to a 9-8 start during the 2017-2018 season. “We need to move the ball up the court, not sure we played with the same amount of pace at the end of last season. We played slower, and we felt like that was not playing to our advantage. This year we have some guys who can get out and go. We are seeing more intensity, trying to get up and down to get more easy buckets,” Harding said.
New assistant coach Alex Ainsworth wants to see the Choctaws improve defensively during camp. “Our focus is on energy and defense. We have to be excited about the things that we are doing, and I think if we can get some stops, that defense will fuel the offense. We have some really talented guys who can score the basketball, so if we get to the point where we get some stops and we share the basketball, we can be a really special team,” Ainsworth said.
MC has high expectations entering into the 2018-2019 season and the team is returning two of its top scorers with Guard, Donovan Ham and Forward, Brandon Boston. Ainsworth is excited to see what MC’s talented roster can do this season. “I think with Donovan and Brandon returning it gives us some experience and gives us two guys that we can really count on. We also added some special pieces like Marcus Lytle who is really versatile and can guard some guys bigger than him. I think we have a really good chance to make a run and to do some special things this season,” said Ainsworth.
The Choctaws learned from their mistakes from the season prior and Boston’s wants him team to compete from the get-go. “We have to come into every game with a competitive mindset; we cannot take anybody lightly. We lost a lot of close games at the end of last season, and we have to finish games this season,” Boston said.
Although the basketball team has some key returning starters, the team did lose their leader and point guard Anthony Johnson, who graduated last May. Harding has seen Sophomore Dyllan Taylor step up thus far in preseason camp. “Dyllan Taylor has taken a lot of strides; he has taken a hole on the spot and has improved every day so far in camp. So has Trey James, who is a junior college transfer from Alabama. He is a pretty witty guy,” said Harding.
Last season Boston averaged 14.6 points and 7 rebounds. This season, Boston wants to improve his game defensively. “I need to improve defensively, and I want to also improve my ball handling. I need to get to the rim more. I obviously want to make the GSC tournament, and I want to be first-team all GSC,” Boston said.
MC’s first exhibition game is against division 1 Nichols State on Nov. 6, and their regular season opener is against Belhaven on Nov. 9 at home.