In his first season with the Knights, head coach Matt Collier was at the helm of a great turnaround season for the Queens College men’s basketball team.
Under coach Collier the Knights experienced their best all-around season in years, finishing 13-13—their best overall record in six seasons. They also have 10 wins in East Coast Conference games, which is their most in three seasons and above all making the ECC tournament.
Now Collier has the task of building off of last year and continuing to put the program on the right track to success, but this season’s task will have plenty of new challenges.
Last year the Knights’ roster sported seven seniors, including the top scorers on the team, Tyree White and Diego Maldonado.
This season, the team is made up of two seniors, Tyrone Hall and Simon Green, six freshmen, and combination of juniors and sophomores, including returning sophomore forward Kevin Buron.
While the departure of the seniors leaves gaps in the lineup for minutes and points, it also leaves an opening for this group of players to step in and take over, and that includes the freshmen.
“There is plenty of opportunity to play, and all of the guys are hungry for those chances,” Collier said. “Even the freshmen when they were recruited, they were told that there would be plenty of chances to play if they worked hard for it and earned it.”
Collier knows that this season proposes a new challenge for the team that sports lots of new faces, but he has the confidence in his players that they have the mindset and ability to overcome that hurdle.
“I’ve seen them play with aggressiveness and learn to channel it, they have shown great discipline and attention to understanding details” he said.
Traditionally, on teams where the players aren’t used to each other, there are disagreements among players, however, those issues have not appeared during the Knights’ practices.
“We set up a bracket of 64 terms that could describe what is most important to our success, and the guys would vote on which words advanced, and eventually the word they all chose was consistency,” Collier said.
Despite the unfamiliarity, the team has shown it has the capability to work with one another, share a common message, and commit to getting better.
Now comes the real task of competition, especially against their ECC rivals. While the season starts on Nov. 10 at home against Chestnut Hill Griffins, their first chance to get better comes in the form of an exhibition game.
Sunday, Nov. 5, the men’s Knights square off with the one of the most respected and prestigious programs in Division I college basketball—the University of Connecticut Huskies.
While it is a tough match up for an exhibition, the final score is not the big take away of the game.
“I know this is cliché but iron sharpens iron,” Collier said. “I took the game so we could compete against a great team to see if we can do what we’ve been talking about doing in practice.”
The way the Knights respond to this game will show how they approach their season after being ranked 8th in the official preseason ECC poll.
Despite being ranked near the bottom of the conference, the Knights aren’t getting ahead of themselves when it comes to going for a certain record—they plan on taking things one game at a time.
“We know that if we dedicate ourselves to get better everyday and stay consistent then whatever our goal, whether it’s making the playoffs or going further than that, we can achieve it,” Collier said.
Preseason rankings may not give them credit but the Knights know that once the season begins their play will do all the talking for them.
The Knights are young, hungry, and motivated to get out onto the court and prove themselves. They are developing the traits needed to be a good team. Look for plenty of exciting games from them this year as they look to turn heads and make the tournament once again.