Men’s basketball prepares for 2015-16 season

The men’s basketball team is preparing to kick off the 2015-16 season with a new coach and game strategy. Bob Simmons was hired as the head coach for the men’s basketball team in July, coming to Allegheny from Marywood University.

“[Allegheny] is a great place to be, to live and work, raise a family, and the type of students you get to be around on a daily basis is phenomenal,” Simmons said. “We’re looking forward to being here for a very long time, settling down and help[ing] to develop our future leaders, husbands and fathers.”

Simmons said he loves every part of coaching and the ways he is able to impact the lives of the men he coaches.

“I truly love the game of basketball, I love being around young men and helping them develop not just on the basketball court but in life,” Simmons said. “It’s not just about basketball and what we’re doing on the floor, but what we’re doing on the floor really does carry over into life and hopefully they get that experience and remember those lessons.”

Forward Chris Milon, ’16, said game strategies have changed with a new coach.

“Pretty much we’re starting over with our offense and defense,” Milon said. “There are some similarities with defense from last year, but offensively we had to learn a whole new offense, new plays, new system. It was an adjustment getting to know a new coach and trying to learn what he expects from us on the court.”

Simmons said the team has worked hard in practice and continues to improve.

“The thing that has been very consistent with these guys is their effort, energy and coach-ability. Over 19 practices, two scrimmages, that has not died off,” Simmons said. “I think we’ve taken steps forward everyday that we’ve been together. Some days the steps have been bigger than others, but I have not felt that we’ve stepped backwards or stayed in one spot. They’re working extremely hard, they’re picking up our concepts very well and they’re a lot of fun to be around.”

Simmons has had success over his time coaching and is bringing that experience to Allegheny.

“[Simmons] has been doing this for 20 years and we all trust him,” said guard Isaiah Henderson, ’18.

Henderson and Milon agreed that the team is looking ahead at championships and preparing for that competition as the season begins.

“The end goal is always to win the national championship,” Milon said. “We’ve had struggles in the past with just being average and being in the middle of the conference, we want to come out on top in the conference and ultimately win the championship.”

The team is looking to succeed on and off the court.

“Our goal is always to win: in the classroom, in the community, and on the court. Obviously, [a goal] is to represent our university, our families, and our alumni in a first-class manner. Those are our goals this year and every year, to do those two, you will be successful,” Simmons said.

Milon said he is looking forward to being part of the team again.

“During the offseason we still hang out, but during season we really get to know each other and spend time with each other every day in the locker room and at practice… And just getting to play, not everyone gets to play college basketball, it’s just Division III but it’s still fun to get out there and be competitive,” Milon said.

Simmons said the team is centered around the idea of being a family.

“We don’t refer to ourselves as a team or a program, we don’t allow people to use that to describe us, we talk about family. And that’s where my whole philosophy centers around, the we and the us,” Simmons said. “That’s a great strength of ours, these guys have bought into that and they are playing for the man to their left and the man to their right. And when you do that, and you’re coachable and you give maximum effort, good things typically happen.”

As the first game approaches, the team is working to prepare for the game.

“We have film sessions and study the other team’s plays, continue to work on offense and getting chemistry with each other and learn how we’re going to guard defensively,” Milon said.

The Gators will face Thiel College at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 13.