The men’s basketball team broke its incredible six-game winning streak this week with two losses against Colby and Saint Joseph’s, but rebounded against Bates on Thursday, beating the Bobcats 70-63 to get back into the win column.
Bowdoin’s recent success can be partially attributed to the continuity of its roster. The team only graduated two seniors last year, and while their absence is missed, a large number of returnees stepped up and filled the gaps left by their departures. Its top five scorers and three out of four top rebounders all returned to compete this season.
“We have more players that played a lot of minutes last year … There’s an experienced group there that has been through this already, and has a pretty good feel of what we need to do to be successful. We’re also playing a little bit differently,” said Head Coach Tim Gilbride.
The arrival of several talented first years with dynamic strengths has added to the team’s skill set as well.
“Zavier Rucker [’21] is starting as a point guard right now for us. He defends very well, his assists to turnover ratio is very good. So, he brings a steadiness that is unusual for a first year,” said Gilbride. “Another first year is Sam Grad [’21], and he is capable of playing as either our center or as a forward. He moves pretty well [and] has a pretty good feel for the game. And so those two guys have added a lot.”
The team’s experience and the rapid integration of new players into the team goes hand-in-hand with another advantage that the team hopes to drive home this year—its depth.
“Our depth this year has made it harder for the opposing team to key on a particular person. And recently we have been thinking about what our best matchup will be offensively, and that might be a different person for each game. And we are unselfish enough, to say that this game that is our best way of scoring,” said Gilbride.
According to senior captain Liam Farley ’18, the team’s chemistry is also better this year, which has made communication a lot easier.
“I think we have just been communicating about what we think our issues are and how we could get back on track. I definitely believe that the talent is there, but we just have to all come together and do our part to win games,” said Farley.
Yet, despite these developments, the team still faces many challenges and understands it has a lot to work on.
“I see every game as a challenge. For sure, every game we’ll have a chance of winning or a chance of losing depending on how we play. That’s kind of the fun of the season. Trying to beat that challenge and improve a little bit each time. So that at crunch time, we can continue to make the right plays that will give you an opportunity to do that,” said Gilbride.
The brisk pace of these back to back games has also made training and focusing on the team itself much more difficult. The Polar Bears hope to utilize the short break that they have to further hone their skills and cohesion. They are also traveling to Florida from December 26 to January 1 in order to train.
“We haven’t had practices to improve what we’re doing—we’ve just had too many games back to back. It’s more of like game prep. So it’s nice to have a bunch of practices in a row, and so we’ll concentrate on what we want to do,” said Gilbride.
The men’s basketball team will look to continue the momentum as it faces off against ME-Farmington this Sunday, December 10 at 1:00 p.m. in Morrell Gym.