Men’s basketball forms family as season begins

The Allegheny men’s basketball team will begin their 2016-17 season this month with only six returning players. The rest of the team is made up of all first-year players. Head Coach Bob Simmons said fresh talent could help the team improve their record of 4-21 from last year.

“We have 10 new student-athletes as members of our family,” Simmons said. “We have depth in every position.”

Simmons has been coaching at the college level for 21 years, but this is only his second year at Allegheny.  Since becoming a coach, Simmons’ goals have remained the same—he wants to see his team remain competitive and be successful on and off the court.  Simmons said he wants to graduate all the seniors, go undefeated and win the national championship, in that order.

“I always look forward to working with student-athletes and [helping] them grow through athletics,” Simmons said.  “We try to show them that what we do on the court carries over to the classroom and life in general.  It is great having a hand in helping develop our future husbands, fathers and leaders.”

Shooting guard Billy Urso, ’19, said this season will be different than the last because of the new players because the leadership and determination of the team has improved.

“The competitiveness, work ethic and leadership is where we want it to be,” Urso said. “We are a young team, so … some young mistakes are going to be made, but we have a championship team mentality day-in and day-out which is something we are very proud of.”

Simmons said the men compete against some of the best coaches and athletes in the country, but he is confident in their abilities.

“The only time you should be nervous is when you are not prepared, and we will always be prepared,” Simmons said.

The team has been practicing officially for about month. Simmons and Urso said they have witnessed potential in the team in that time.

“They enjoy being around one another and want the best for each other.  As we spend more time together and go through different experiences throughout the season, we will love each other more, and once that happens, we will have something special,” Simmons said.

Urso echoed Simmons’ sentiment and said the team is improving little by little.

Point guard Liam Wilby, ’20, said that as a first-year, most athletes have nerves going into the season, but his teammates have made the transition onto the team a smooth one.

“We’re quite a close family, so I feel pretty comfortable with everyone,” Wilby said.  “It’s an easy group to get along with and play with.”

The men will open their season at Grove City College on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 5:30 p.m.