The 2017-18 men’s basketball season is looking promising for the Valiants as they look to bounce back from a disappointing 8-17 record last season. The Valiants have five seniors returning to their roster and that leadership could be what turns this team into a post season threat in the MAC Freedom conference.
The MAC Freedom conference is one that is consistently balanced and full of talented teams. Senior Brian Haggerty is one of four captains on the team, and he believes that it is the duty of the seniors on the team to lead them. In turn, they will hopefully be able to leave the program as conference champions.
Defense is one of the key factors to the Valiants’ success this offseason. Manhattanville has consistently been one of the best defensive teams in the conference for the past few seasons, but head coach Pat Scanlon is looking to make a jump to becoming one of the best defensive teams in the country. One main point
of emphasis for the team is defending the three-point shot.
While discussing the importance of defense for this upcoming season, junior forward Thomas Hickey stated, “Defense is going to be extremely important for us this season. The teams in our conference have a lot of talented scorers and it’s our job to try and nullify their offensive abilities if we want to win a championship.”
The Valiants have not been able to capture a conference championship since 2007 when they were members of the Skyline Conference. After asking graduate assistant coach Joe Busacca about what it would take for the team to accomplish their goal of winning the conference championship, he stated, “Trust. We love our team; the guys work extremely hard and we are building something extremely special over here. The number one thing that is going to be key to our success is the trust that all of us have with each other daily. If we continue to build on that, the basketball part will come easy.” Busacca is definitely experienced in wining MAC Freedom championships, as he won two at Misericordia University, where he was also a 1,000-point scorer for the Cougars. After graduating, Busacca just couldn’t resist the allure of becoming a Valiant.
The team definitely has some talented younger players this year to pair with the talented upper class, bringing in five freshmen to the team. Freshman guard Connell Henderson feels he’ll be able to help the team on and off the court this season.
“I think that it’s important to always be pushing the older guys on the team to try and make them better players, but I also try to get in the gym to work on my own game as frequently as possible. I just want to do anything I can do to help the team win,” said Connell.
Connell is well known on the team for his tireless work ethic and his uncanny resemblance to coach Scanlon.
The Valiants will start the season on Nov. 15 against St. Joseph’s (LI) at Kennedy Gymnasium. They’ll play six home games during the first semester, and will also have the opportunity to head out and play in two tournaments during winter break. The Valiants will be looking to win both the Juniata Doc Green Classic and the Montclair State Ollie Gelston Classic, on Dec. 22-23 and Dec. 28-29 of respectively.
The team will then start conference play, hosting arch-nemesis and defending conference champion Misericordia on Jan. 3. The Valiants have a real shot to capture their first conference championship in 11 years, as the team has real chemistry with each other and they are undoubtedly one of the most experienced teams in the conference. Hopefully it will all come together for the Valiants, who are looking like a real threat to take home a conference championship this season.