Noah Fleischman, Sports Editor
Men’s basketball lost five seniors to graduation after last season came to a grinding halt. This year’s roster — including four freshmen and four sophomores — calls for more intense practices and mentorship from upperclassmen.
During practice, the young team focuses on “locking in,” or paying more attention to detail, sophomore guard Bones Hyland said.
“This year we have a whole new team with a whole bunch of new guys,” Hyland said. “It’s definitely a big thing that the coaches are emphasizing.”
The NCAA announced in September that college basketball can resume on Nov. 25. VCU’s schedule has not been released for the upcoming season. The team was scheduled to start its season in Orlando as a part of the Charleston Classic, which was canceled Oct. 26.
Coach Mike Rhoades said he wants to see new players apply what they learn during practice in scrimmages and future competitions.
“The term we’re using with our guys is ‘carryover,’” Rhoades said. “What we talk about, what we work on and when we get into live action, we carry it over to the live action.”
The youth movement on Broad Street presents a unique challenge of learning the havoc defense, but the younger players are picking it up quickly.
Hyland, who played in all of last season’s 31 games, said the freshmen are learning the system faster each day.
“It’s a learning process for them. They’re still coming along,” Hyland said. “It might get frustrating for them here and there, but they’re picking up on things kind of quicker.”
Hyland said he enjoys answering questions from freshmen, as he was in their shoes a year ago.
Although it’s a young team, the roster doesn’t lack leadership. Rhoades said Hyland, senior forward Corey Douglas, junior forward Vince Williams and junior guard KeShawn Curry have stepped into leadership roles.
“I think there’s been some leadership by committee but also leadership by example, which also I think is important,” Rhoades said. “I think the way these guys are hanging out and are spending a lot of time together off the court … is continuously showing up on the court.”
Douglas said he loves being a leader and someone others can seek for advice.
“I’ve tried to be more vocal than I have been in the past,” Douglas said. “I’m the oldest guy and it’s just all about establishing our culture and showing the new guys especially how it’s supposed to be.”
The Louisville, Kentucky, native said setting the example at practice whether it’s on the court or with his attitude on issues that are important to him.
Douglas said the team is learning to play with more discipline to improve turnovers.
“Once we continue to practice and be more disciplined and make smarter plays, it’ll take care of itself,” Douglas said.