By Noah Syverson, Assistant News Producer
Rebecca Tejeda, Reporter
Nathan Sims, Editor
Members of the Berry College Men’s Basketball team strive for consistency in the classroom and on the court in anticipation for their upcoming season.
Head Coach Mitch Cole, previous assistant coach at Division I University of Arkansas at Little Rock, said he wants consistent effort from his players in the gym, through workouts specific to athletes, as well as in their studies and nutritional balance. Study hall is one way to help the athletes reach their academic goal of a 3.0 GPA.
Cole also aims to build relationships with his players as he pushes them to be better men and to live balanced lives.
Cole’s terminology and drills remain the same, but his practices differ from past coaches in that they are “constantly intense,” according to senior forward Elijah Hirsh. If one player lacks effort, Cole makes them do sprints.
“He’s [Cole] upping the accountability and responsibility that each player has, so hopefully that will lead to greater success,” Hirsh said.
Last season the Vikings finished the regular season with a 3-11 record, and entered the SAA tournament as the No. 8 seed. In the quarterfinal, they beat the No. 1 seed, Centre College, becoming the first team to ever upset the top team as the 8th seed. After that victory, they continued their unprecedented run, beating Birmingham-Southern and Hendrix College in the semifinal and championship games, respectively.
With the tournament championship win, the Vikings earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament. Though the tournament was a great achievement for the team, players will strive to improve their overall record this season.
Cole says he feels no pressure to return to the NCAA tournament in his first year. He is concerned with getting the team to play well consistently by working toward process-focused goals. According to Cole, the team will have to eliminate mistakes that could lead to losses, and fight for the right mindset that goes into competing at a championship level.
Ethan Haslam, a junior transfer student, remains optimistic about this season after the team’s conference championship last season.
“I like the fact that there is a lot of energy around this program at the moment, especially winning the conference last year, it sets the bar high,” Haslam said.
The Vikings won their season opener, 85-79, against Huntingdon College on Tuesday. They face Brevard College in their next game, 9 p.m. Friday, at the Lon Varnell Classic in Sewanee, Tenn.