Men’s Basketball Starts Season With a Tough Loss

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Friday night was the season opener for the men’s basketball squad. The Raiders faced tough competition against NCAA powerhouse UConn, and despite a 70-58 loss, the team displayed talent and resilience. 

Charlotte Redican, Assistant Sports Editor

Colgate men’s basketball commenced its 2017-2018 season on Friday, November 10, against the University of Connecticut (UConn) Huskies. For a season opener, the Raiders were thrown into a proverbial shark tank battling the 2014 National Championship team. Friday night was an impressive start to Colgate’s season as the Raiders were within five points in the final minutes of the game before UConn sealed the deal with a late 70-58 win. While early in the Colgate men’s basketball season, the hard fought battle over the weekend suggests that there is a lot to look forward to. The question can be raised, does the team deserve the fifth place Patriot League pre-season prediction?

 “I think we have the potential to be one of the top teams in the Patriot League,” junior center Dana Batt said.

Season openers are an opportunity for players to distinguish themselves and set the tone for success. A handful of Colgate players made themselves known during this opening game, three of whom finished with double-figures. Sophomore forward Will Rayman was back again proving his determination to continue his impressive basketball career leading the team with 19 points. Rayman, the 2016-17 Patriot League Rookie of the year and 2016-17 Colgate Athletics Male Rookie of the Year, hit two back-to-back three-pointers to change the tone, stopping UConn’s scoring streak and initiating a scoring run for Colgate. 

Senior forward Jordan Swopshire, who finished last year’s season in second place on the team for points and first for rebounds, lived up to expectations by contributing 14 points and snatching a team best of nine rebounds. First-year guard Jordan Burns, the 2017 MVP of his high school league, did hesitate as he entered into Division I play, adding 11 points to the Raider effort and a team best 6 assists. Also on the board were Batt and senior guard Sean O’Brien, who both collected seven points apiece for Colgate. After this opening match up, some wonder: what does the team’s performance say about its season to come? 

“I am hopeful and confident that we will use tonight as a building block and continue the work necessary for this group to find continued improvement,” head coach Matt Langel said. 

The effort the team showed against the Huskies raised the bar for the rest of the season, as the team proved that it can play scrappily and get the ball in the hoop. Langel sees the team’s potential for success, as does the rest of the team.

“We are a little disappointed with the loss because we had plenty of opportunities to make a run late in the game, but we weren’t able to take advantage of them. Overall though, I think it’s a positive start to the season,” Batt said. 

The Raiders possess the talent to be a League ringer, but will they be able to put in the hard work and determination for continued improvement? After a week of practice, the team’s next chance to impress is at its home on Thursday, November 16 at 7 p.m. against Cornell. Last season, Colgate clinched a tight 67-63 victory over this in-state rival. The Big Red will bring the heat, returning with two-time All-Ivy League selection and two-time conference leading scorer, Matt Morgan. Come out to see the Colgate take on its Central New York foe.

Contact Charlotte Redican at [email protected]