With the start of basketball season, the freshmen on the men’s basketball team at the University of Dallas are already displaying their dedication to their sport, their team and their school. With nine incoming players, they all have high hopes for their season and plan on playing to win.
Each of the players have expressed their loyalty to the Crusaders and are ready to compete.
Matt Grahn, the head coach, said, “I think right now our strength is the fact that we’re deep, our roster’s deep and that makes practices competitive.”
As the players are adapting to the collegiate level and working for their spot on the team, Grahn stressed that improvement over everything else is key.
“The biggest goal is just to get better every day. You know, we take a mastery approach to our program’s philosophy, and that’s, you know, are we better today than we were yesterday? And if we can say that, then we’ve succeeded,” Grahn said. “You know, ultimately, that’s the goal. Where do we want to end up, you know, championships and that kind of stuff, those are destinations along the way for us.”
Grahn’s positive attitude has obviously greatly affected his team. All these men expressed their happiness with the team and their goals reflect that.
One of the freshmen, Johnny Olmsted, a business major and #1, said “My personal goal is just obviously to impact the team in the biggest way I can, obviously on the court, I’ve always felt like I’ve been a good leader that provides energy and just gets the offense going in everything.”
He continued, “So I’m hoping that I can just be on the court as much as I can. And then off the court, just setting a good example in the classroom for the team all day.”
Michael Kennedy, a computer science major and #13, shared that the team wants to win conference and make it to the NCAA tournament.
Kennedy said, “We just want to go as far as we can because we think we can.”
In order to achieve their goals, the players have six days of practice a week, strength and conditioning training, and dedicated time to watch film. The life of a student athlete is never easy and certainly requires lots of time management.
As the freshmen are adjusting to the intensity of their workload, they are also adjusting to playing basketball at the collegiate level.
Alex Bruno, a freshman business major and #3, explained, “Competition and practice is so much better. I mean, in high school, you’re going against 14 year olds like when you’re 18. But I’m 19 years old and I’m going against the guy who is 24. So, that level of competition, like the guys here can really ball, everyone’s really good, that’s definitely been an adjustment for me.”
Jaxon Miles, a freshman psychology major and #22, said “Playing at UD is a little different because it’s more fast paced. Since we’re in college, you might play adults and stuff, so it’s more fast paced and more physical. That’s the main difference.”
The team has truly come together under Grahn’s leadership and really connected. That connection is apparent in the way they play and interact with one another.
Grahn said, “I love these guys, it’s a joy to go to the gym. It really is. It’s a lot of fun to work with these guys. They’re hard workers. They have high character. They’re very coachable, their basketball IQ is high. And that just, I mean, that adds up to a lot of fun in the gym.”
Outside of the gym, these men have bonded by spending all of their time together, especially with the upperclassmen.
Olmsted shared that, “The upperclassmen have shown us around, introduced us to the way of life around here. But I mean, every night I’m doing something with one of my teammates”
He continued, “It’s even been cool because it’s just being a student athlete as a whole, you feel connected with the other sports too, especially girls basketball, so I’ve been able to make a couple of really good friends on the girls team also and you just kind of know you’re all in it together especially the same season with us playing at the same time, you know?”
As these men continue to grow and develop as individuals and as a team, make sure to cheer them on at their next home game!