For the last few weeks, the Marauders have held practices much like the one pictured; masked, intense, and brief, in the new COVID era.
“Our guys have been really, really good about taking care of themselves and taking care of each other,” head coach Joe Kittel says. “So, it’s been good, but it’s only been four hours a week. And so you have a good practice but you don’t see them again for two days on the court, or you have a good practice, and you have to stop because your time limit is up for the day.”
With a team of three seniors and five juniors, the investment is there to ensure 2020 goes without a hitch.
“We’ve met as a team, team captains and stuff, and talked about it,” says Guard Josh Sipes. “We want to play, no matter the cost. If we have to play in masks, if we’re getting tested for COVID three times a week, we just want to play, we want to go out there and win. That’s the ultimate goal for us.”
A big focus of improvement has been in the jump shot, generating offense for a team that suffered in that department last year.
“We need guys in the perimiter to step up this year and be better for us on the offensive end,” says Kittel. “Because we need to figure out ways to score more points and not put so much pressure on our defense.”
Players say it starts in practice, whether with the team or themselves.
“It’s taking game speed shots, it’s game speed passes,” Forward Matthew Kreklow says. “Everything has to be game speed and people have to be ready to knock shots down. And I think it all starts here and so the more efficient we can be at practices, the better we can be at games.”
But the defensive pressure has always been there with UMary, a hallmark for the Marauders once again this season.
“When the ball isn’t going in, your defense can kind of carry you throughout that game,” Sipes says. “You can win scoring 50 points if you can hold the other team to 45, so just building your base on that and then improving on the offense end hitting shots.”
With just a month out, UMary is focusing on the basics and making sure they are sound once the season starts on January 2nd.
“I think that’s the worst thing we can do right now is put too much in and not get good at anything,” says Kittel. “So we need to get good at what we need to get good at. We need to figure out who needs to be in the rotation and we need to figure out those things in the next 20 days but we want to make sure that we’re not overcomplicating it and like you said, getting our guys in the best shape possible, keeping them healthy and just getting to game night man, just getting to game night.”