Missouri Western men's basketball has been working hard and is expecting to put on a great season for 2020-21. The Griffons will have a 22-game season playing only all-conference season against only conference opponents, not including the postseason. Head coach Will Martin has big plans for the men's basketball program this season.
“I think it's a blessing to get 22 games considering everything going on. I think that it’s exciting that we're jumping straight into MIAA play,” Martin said.
The team has been working hard in practice to make sure they are prepared for the season.
“The focus has been trying to stay connected as possible. With everything going on with COVID-19, it’s been important to find that connectivity no matter what,” Martin said.
The team spends about an hour and a half to two hours practicing, five days a week.
“ I’m not very old school, I have a new school mentality. I think that once you get to the two hour mark, I think that the mind starts to detract a little bit,” Martin said.
Martin makes sure that they fill those two hours full of intense, focused, connected hard work, putting in a lot of effort and work to be the best that they can be. The Griffons spend practice time working physically, mentally and emotionally
“Our mantra is F.L.O.W—faith, love, ownership and work—and so the workpiece is crucial in that, but I think we do a good job at tearing guys down to be able to build them back up,” Martin said.
“We want to break you down a little, but mentally and emotionally and physically to the point where you can grow stronger but never to the point where you can't build on that.” Martin said.
This is Martin’s first year as head coach and he is all about his team.
“It’s been an interesting ride when you become a first-time head coach and we have a first-time pandemic that the world was never prepared for. There is a ripple effect to every single decision that you make, and you can't over analyze that and you can’t be paranoid about that but that's the main difference between being from an assistant to head coach,” Martin said.
“Regardless of what circumstances hit us, regardless of what adversity strikes us, these guys are diligent and vigilant in remaining close and tight no matter what happens.” Martin said.
Sophomore Will Eames and redshirt junior Caleb Bennett have high hopes for this season as well and can’t wait for the season to begin.
“Nothing has really changed from last year. We are doing a little more safety precautions with the mask,” Eames said.
The team is playing an only all-conference schedule this season, which is a little bit reduced than normal but every game is still important.
“Since it's all-conference, we get to play all of those and we are one of the only teams that get to compete for a championship right now, so we will have postseason and playoffs as well,” Bennett said.
Bennett and Eames speak for the team when they say that they are excited to play. COVID-19 has had a push back for not only them but the team as well.
“It's been seven months since I’ve last played, and I’m really getting excited for it again; nothing better than going out there and competing against someone you don't know,” Eames said.
Being a redshirt last year, it's been even longer since Bennett has touched the court.
“I got a redshirt last year so it's been a while since I’ve got to play but I’m really excited to get out there with the team and get buckets,” Bennett said.
The comradery has been going great with the team. They have been getting along, working hard and preparing for the season.
“This is the closest team I’ve ever been on, we all like each other, Coach Will is like one of us almost, he's young, he relates to us but at the same time we all respect him so much,” Eames said.
Bennett is in agreement with Eames and feels just the same that the team gets along well and is one big family.
“The team's chemistry is off the charts. We’re all a big family, all twenty-two of us and there isn't anyone on the team that is outside or anything like that,” Bennett said.
The Griffons are busy every day with no days off, while still taking precautions.
“Honestly, I think we can be the best team in the country, and I’m not just saying that. We have the talent to do it, there are big goals for this team moving forward,” Eames said.