By Haiden Widener, Campus Carrier Sports Editor
The men’s basketball team’s regular season standings were not affected after an exhibition game played against Murray State University, a Division I school in Kentucky.
The team is allowed two exhibition or scrimmage games during pre-season, but chose this exhibition game feeling like it would help them better prepare for the season.
“What we really want to do is make our practices harder than our games,” Head Coach Jeff Rogers said. “Exhibition games are really just the opportunity to practice against an outside opponent. We like to give our guys the opportunity to play against Division I competition.”
With an estimated crowd of 8,000 people, this is the biggest stage that Berry will play on this season. This experience was one of a kind for the players.
“It was crazy playing in that huge gym,” junior Al McCloud said. “The arena was so nice and the atmosphere was even better.”
Since this was an exhibition game, and Division III schools rarely ever beat Division I schools, Berry did receive a small amount of money to cover the cost of playing on the road.
“They covered the cost of our transportation, our hotel and our meals,” Rogers said.
Even though Berry lost 116-71, the team felt like they learned a lot and played well against a more talented and more athletic team.
“It allowed us to look at some things that we did well and some things we still need to work on,” McCloud said. “It was a great way for us to learn and see situations with an outside opponent.”
Rogers was pleased with the amount of competition the players put up against Murray State.
“From a confidence standpoint, I think it was good for our guys,” he said. “I felt like we were competitive with them. Our guys were really able to learn how to do some of the things we do, better.”
This game not only helped the Vikings build confidence for the season, but it helped Murray State as well. Rogers said that after speaking to Murray State’s head coach, he learned that Berry was able to present them with problems that they need to work on before their season starts.
With the exhibition game behind them, the team is now looking forward to beginning their regular season.
“I think that the chemistry of everything is going to be a big part of our team this year,” junior Nick Marder said. “My expectations are to win a conference championship and make it to the NCAA tournament.”
After losing in the semi-finals of the conference tournament last year, the team thinks that some simple changes made in the off-season will push them to the conference title.
“The experience of the upperclassmen is a big difference over last season,” Rogers said. “We’ve added tremendous depth (this season). The freshman and other first year players we have give us a layer of depth that we didn’t have last year, and with our style, that’s essential.”
With the core of the team now juniors, they hope that the chemistry on the court will translate into wins. But they are more excited than ever about playing at home.
“I’m really looking forward to drawing a crowd to our games this year,” said McCloud. “I’m confident that our style of play will be extremely fun to watch.”