Young Tigers head in right direction

Published 3:06 pm Thursday, December 27, 2018

The remarkably young Hampden-Sydney College’s men’s basketball team enters this weekend’s Music City Classic in Gallatin, Tennessee, with a 4-4 overall record so far this season.

“We’ve had some ups and downs, but overall, I’ve been pretty pleased with our group,” Tigers Head Coach Dee Vick said. “We played four games without one of our best players who was suspended and is now back. We have only four upperclassmen, and I thought we took some steps in the right direction, and we’re growing, and … it’s a process, and I like the direction we’re heading, and we’re just hoping to build on it a little bit each day.”

The roster consists of eight freshmen, five sophomores, two juniors and two seniors.

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Last season’s team, which went 6-20, featured only three seniors, though Hampden-Sydney does miss the services of center/forward Guilherme Guimaraes, forward Nick Chase and center Hunter Kuehn.

This season, Vick described his expectations as being on a day-to-day level.

“Having so many young guys, freshmen and sophomores, a lot of our success is going to depend on how quickly they can really step up to the challenge, adjusting to the speed of the game,” he said, “but certainly, we’re confident we can build on last year, and we’re looking to improve on last year’s record, certainly, and just taking it day by day.”

The coach said senior forward/guard Justin Reid is the team’s only senior captain this year, and he has been a tremendous leader.

“A lot of things Justin does for our team does not show up on the state sheet, but he’s our best communicator,” Vick said. “He’s one of our more versatile players; he can play the five, the four, the three for us. He just understands our principles. He’s just extremely tough and gritty and kind of anchors our defense. So, he is our best leader at this point, but we do have some good, young leaders stepping up.”

He started this list by mentioning junior point guard Chaise Johnson.

“Chaise is one of the best scorers in the ODAC (Old Dominion Athletic Conference),” Vick said. “ He can score a lot of different ways. Brendan McHale’s a young leader as a sophomore point guard who’s had some good games for us as well. I think Kevin Quinn’s a junior that has also been very productive at times, a big shot maker and a much improved defender. So those are the four leaders that stand out in my opinion at this point.”

Senior guard/forward Malik Crute is the Tigers player who was suspended for four games due to what Vick noted was a violation of team policy, but Crute has since returned.

“He’s a guy that can score,” Vick said. “When the shot clock gets down, and the opponent’s done a nice job scouting our offense, he can create his own shot. He also has the ability to be, in my opinion, one the best defenders in the ODAC. Malik is a very talented player who really wants to finish his career out the right way.”

Hampden-Sydney begins its play in the Music City Classic on Saturday at noon when it takes on Mount Aloysius College. The Tigers will also play MacMurray College on Sunday at 2 p.m in the Classic.