A mid-season Q & A with the Lancers
Published 5:48 pm Friday, January 20, 2023
With the season just past the midway point, Sam Hovan, the voice of the Lancers, had a chance to catch up earlier in the week with DA Houston and Michael Christmas about the team’s journey so far this season.
Sam: We are halfway through the season. That’s hard to believe!
DA Houston: It is crazy that time has flown by pretty fast. We’ve had some pretty fun trips as a team, but it is crazy that we are already halfway through the season. It feels like it just started.
Michael Christmas: The games seem like they flew by. It feels like our first game was a year ago right now, which is kind of crazy. I’m enjoying the time I have, since I wasn’t able to be in the games last year (due to injury). It is a good feeling to be halfway there.
Sam: You all had a stretch where you played seven of nine on the road. What is it like to travel that much?
DA: I feel like it is a lot of different experiences, going different places and finding joy with your teammates. Bonding. I feel like it is more time to bond and build chemistry on those road trips with some of the extra activities that we did outside of basketball and having to be around each other more in the hotel. We were always hanging out. It was enjoyable for everybody, especially the California and New York trip.
Mike: It feels good to be able to travel places for basketball. Not a lot of people get to travel like we’ve been doing. Some people have never been across the country before, and we had the chance to do that this year. It was a good experience for all of us. And just like DA said, we build camaraderie on those trips, just being with each other all the time, doing outside activities and even playing in the games, getting more connected, more team chemistry, because we are far away from home and don’t have anyone else with us. All we have is us, so we get closer.
Sam: How does that camaraderie show up on the court?
DA: I feel like it helps with everything. You learn and pick up people’s habits and their personalities. That helps on the court with knowing how to talk with somebody. Or you can notice when they’re not ‘there’, you can pull them back in in different ways or a way that’s better for that person because you have that chemistry, that connection, with them off the court. I think that connection off the court carries over with everything on the court with us always being involved with each other.
Mike: I would say the same thing. You know who you are playing with. Let’s say we didn’t take those trips. We were already pretty close before, but we get to know how people are and their personalities, like DA said. It helps on the court when you are talking, going through a situation or going through adversity while in a game. You know how to pick people up and encourage them, especially, and identify when something is wrong with them or they are feeling down. You are able to pick them up more easily because you already know what gets them going.
Sam: What is it like, having a target on your back at the beginning of conference play this year?
DA: It’s a good feeling, knowing that you have the respect you didn’t have last season. It’s a good feeling having that respect. Every game is always going to be hard. Everybody wants to beat you. They want to take that title that we have right now. It makes me enjoy the game more, having that other side come at you with the same competitive spirit you have.
Mike: I would say the same thing. I kind of like having the target on our back because I know that everybody is going to be going hard. Coach Griff said the other day before practice, ‘Everybody is going to be gunning for us. Everybody is going to play their best game against us.’ I kind of thrive in that situation, and I feel like our team thrives in that situation, knowing that we’re getting somebody’s best every time we step on that floor.
Sam: Where has the team grown in the last month?
DA: I think as a team, we’ve grown on the mental side of the game. Our approach in practices, walkthroughs, shootarounds. On the mental side, I feel like everybody is elevated across the board. It shows in the game. Like Michael said earlier, during adverse situations, we’re able to elevate on the mental side, not just the physical. I feel like that gives us the competitive advantage.
Mike: I think in the last month, we have definitely improved in having a consistent mindset and a consistent approach to be the best we can be on the floor, to play as a team and all that stuff. I feel like our approach is a lot better coming into conference than it was in the month leading up to it in our non-conference, which is probably a good thing since conference is so competitive and everybody is coming for us.
Sam: What is the next step?
DA: We feel like we can improve on the defensive end. That’s something that will be a big emphasis for us through the rest of conference, the rest of the season. We’re a good defensive team, but I feel like we can be better. That’s where our mindset will be.
Mike: Being more consistent on defense and having that intensity. We always have like one half that is really good on defense, and the other half is like, ‘Eh, we can do a lot better.’ We need to put two halves together to really lock down on defense, and we’ll be a really hard team to beat when we get to that point.