Basketball season previews

As the weather (finally) turns to sub 80 degrees, that only means one thing is coming…basketball season. The National Basketball Association (NBA) tipped off last week, but here at Virginia Wesleyan, we’re ready to cheer on the men’s and women’s basketball teams in the Jane P. Batten Student Center. Both teams started practice Oct. 15, but do not open their regular season schedule until Nov. 11 for the women and Nov. 16 for the men. Coach Macedo’s squad will take on Old Dominion University in an exhibition game on Nov. 1. But what should we expect from our Marlins this season? Let’s take a look.

Coach Stephany Dunmyer enters her 16th season at the helm of the women’s basketball program coming off of a 2017-2018 campaign where her team went 14-14 (9-7) and made an appearance in the ODAC semifinals. After back-to-back years finishing with a .500 record, the women’s basketball team will look to take a step forward and have the pieces in place to do so. The upperclassmen will lead the way for the Marlins with seniors Jayla Harris (16.8ppg) and Amanda Gerni (7.1ppg) in place to do the bulk of the scoring for their squad. Junior Reagan Holmes also figures to be in the picture offensively and will switch off point guard duties with Harris. In order for the Marlins to be successful, they are going to need to control the rebounding battle and limit their turnovers. After impressive freshman year seasons, Jada Lewis and Mak McSweeney are going to have to continue their success on the low post if the Marlins are going to want to make noise in the ODAC. When the team has a threat like Harris on the perimeter, the opponent will likely key defensively on her, which opens up opportunities for the post players to capitalize. The team’s season will also be highlighted by a trip to Puerto Rico in honor of Nancy Kelly; the squad will also host their annual Nancy Kelly Game on Jan. 12 against Washington and Lee. The Marlins open up their home slate against N.C. Wesleyan on Nov. 20.

Coach Dave Macedo is at the start of his 19th season leading the way for the Marlins men’s basketball program and is looking to bring the team back to their winning ways in 2018-2019. The 2017-2018 season ended in disappoint as the Marlins fell to Randolph in the opening round of the ODAC tournament, which was the first time they failed to reach the ODAC semifinals since the 2001-02 season. VWU finished with a 17-9 record and went 11-5 in ODAC play. It was a young Marlins team a year ago that was searching for its identity for most of the year. Expect a break out year from the men’s team this year as they are all a year older and still have a bitter taste in their mouth from a season ago. New Marlins assistant coach Nick Doyle will look to bring back the winning culture. The 2015 graduate returns to Virginia Beach as Dave Macedo’s right hand man. As for the players, Lamont Stewart is coming off a career high 14.6ppg as a sophomore and is looking to improve upon that total during his junior year, and the Marlins are going to need him to. Senior Keijon Honore, who has been a floor general during his career will need to step into a leadership role if things are going to go the way the team hopes for. There were too many times last year where the Marlins were in a close game and lost composure, got sloppy, and ultimately lost. Six out of the team’s nine losses were single digit defeats. Expect to see sophomores Corey Pelham, Tyree Golston and Tim Fisher all see extended roles coming off solid freshman seasons. The two guards in Pelham and Golston will look to be knock down shooters while also bringing the physicality on the defensive end. Fisher, standing at 6’6” will be an inside presence and will improve on his scoring and rebound totals. Virginia Wesleyan opens their season at home in the TowneBank Tip-Off Tournament on Nov. 16 against Greensboro College.

All we can do now is speculate on how the teams will do until they hit the court in November; Go Marlins.

Luke Chiasson