Basketball team prepares for a new season



JU basketball player number 22, Radian Bakkali, going up to dunk the back during their recent game against the University of Florida.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With the football season coming close to an end, it’s almost time for the 2017- 2018 JU men’s basketball season to begin.

The Dolphins finished last season with an overall record of 17-16. The team finished in 6th place in a tough and competitive Atlantic Sun Conference. The upcoming season is set to start on Friday. With a new season approaching, sophomore point guard Tanner Rubio is confident about what this year’s team has to offer.

“Every team in the nation can talk about how successful they want to be, but at the end of the day it’s all about performing at a high level each and every game,” Rubio said.

Rubio explained how important it is for a team to get off to a good start because it can instill confidence throughout the entire team. Each player on the team has a specific role; it’s critical that all players know their assignments and try to execute to the best of their ability.

“Now that I’m not a freshman anymore, I need to take the leadership role to new heights and lead by example,” Rubio said.

Rubio says he hopes his teammates feed off his positive energy and leadership qualities in order to give the team the best chance for a successful season.

Antwon Clayton, a senior captain on the team, has been anxiously waiting for the season to begin. Clayton, who is one of three seniors on this year’s roster, is also viewed as a role model to the younger players on the team.

“We have a lot of young players on this year’s team, and part of my job is helping them get acclimated to the system of how things are done here at JU,” Clayton said.

The preseason rankings have been released, and the Dolphins are projected to finish in third place in the ASUN Conference. But Jace Hogan, a redshirt sophomore, says he doesn’t allow preseason rankings to fluster him or his teammates.

“It doesn’t matter how well other people think we can do this season; all that matters is that we stay focused on ourselves and control the things that only we can control,” Hogan said.

There are eight teams that make up the ASUN Conference. All have the same objective in the end and that is to play for the ASUN Championship at the beginning of March. Hogan believes this year’s team has all the attributes to bring a conference championship home to JU.

“In order for us to go all the way this year, we need to play with discipline, intensity, and overall fundamentally sound basketball,” Hogan said.

Florida Gulf Coast University and Lipscomb University are the only two schools ranked ahead of JU in the preseason rankings. Hogan doesn’t want this year’s team to think its competition is simply going to lay down and not put up a fight. Every team in this conference is capable of beating one another on any given day.

“It’s important that we treat every game this upcoming season like we are playing for the championship, that way we never let a great opportunity pass us by.”