Slippery Rock men’s basketball started out hot at the Butler County Chamber of Commerce Conference Challenge and everything has only gone up from there.
After opening the season with a six-point victory against Alderson Broaddus University and a 10-point victory over Notre Dame College of Ohio, The Rock was feeling confident, and their play has backed up said confidence.
Head Coach Ian Grady shared that he believes much of the success has come from the players’ physical and mental preparation before each game, learning how the opposition might try to attack and defend.
“We have a process that we do for every opponent,” Coach Grady said.
He then elaborated on the process referenced, explaining that it is a combination of film review and studying scouting reports to fully understand opposing teams.
SRU has played in three games since then. Each was a home game, they matched up against Penn State Greater Allegheny, Daemen University, and the University of Charleston.
Last year, The Rock delivered a thrashing to Penn State Greater Allegheny. The hope and the plan was the same result, and the players delivered in the form of a 110-64 victory that saw five players bearing the White and Green score 10 or more points. Neither of the ladder two games would be quite as awe-inspiring, however, both were also won by double-digit margins.
Over the three-game stretch, graduate student guard Amante Britt accumulated 40 points. Britt has been with the squad since 2018 and truly embodies what it means to be an athlete who is a student of the game. Coach Grady elaborated on the early success and the benefits of having a group of players, like Britt, who are striving to be better and willing to learn.
“They’ve responded to coaching, and playing in the games, and committing to doing the things that they need to do to be successful,” Coach Grady said.
During The Rock’s five-game win streak, they have amassed 410 points and outscored their opponents by 87. Coach Grady understands that the winning needs to be supplemented with continued work if the White and Green want to maintain their success.
“You don’t want to get complacent; you can’t be satisfied… it’s easy to get sidelined when you see good results,” Coach Grady said.
This strong play has gotten them ranked regionally and Coach Grady has made sure to accredit the work ethic that he sees the team put in day in and day out.
“It’s a testament to the players,” Coach Grady said.
All that being said, the team is roughly one-sixth of the way through their schedule, so there is much work to be done in order to keep things rolling and stay on the right track. The wins have been deserved and The Rock continues to show that they have the talent to go a long way, but Coach Grady emphasized the importance of not letting anyone get ahead of themselves.
“We gotta make sure that we stay focused on the job at hand,” Coach Grady said.
Slippery Rock Men’s basketball has six games over the course of December with a nine-day break and a ten-day break built in. There are five PSAC conference games slated for the month which will be SRU’s first conference matchups of the season.
Three of the games, December 18th vs. Mansfield University, Dec 19th vs. Bloomsburg University, and December 30th vs. East Stroudsburg University, will be rematches of games played last year. The Rock will hope for history to repeat itself as a year ago they defeated all three of these teams. The matchup against Bloomsburg University was the closest of the three as SRU snuck out of Bloomsburg’s court with a four-point victory, 83-79. It will be all the more important to not become complacent, to use Coach Grady’s own words, facing these opponents who have been bested in the recent past.
This month could be a deciding factor as to how far the team can go because of the conference matchups and because many of the games should have the whole roster at full strength after the long breaks. There is the possibility of losing focus during those breaks if there are off days or days of practice when there is still a while until the next game, but Coach Grady alluded to the significance of urgency at practice and how the winning mentality needs to follow into practice as well.
“You gotta be hungry. You gotta bring it every day,” Coach Grady said.
At the end of the day, Coach Grady and everyone else knows that these are long seasons, and they are a grind that doesn’t allow for lapses in determination and willingness.
“You gotta fall in love with the process,” Coach Grady said.
There is a plan in place that has obviously led to success so far. As long as the team is willing to commit and execute, there should be rewards to reap.