By: Amber Zipfel
The University of Mary Washington men’s basketball team is set to compete at the Coast-To-Coast Tournament from Feb. 24 to 26 and will be held at Christopher Newport University. The three-day tournament is a chance for the men’s basketball team to play against other teams in the Coast-To-Coast conference in hopes of winning the championship game. If they win, they will advance to the national championship.
“We are confident and think we’re capable of winning the conference,” said Daniel Peterson, a sophomore forward and computer science and math major. “We’re pretty much focused on ourselves because we feel like we can compete with anyone if we play our best.”
The Eagles have played 21 games so far this spring season with a 15-6 record.
Anias Saunders, a senior guard and biomedical sciences major, said that the team could always make some improvements before the big game.
“The team can improve at rebounding and playing with great intensity and effort for the entire game. I can also improve in these areas individually, and I also have to make sure I stay laser-focused no matter what is going on during the game,” said Saunders.
Peterson also shared similar thoughts on how the team could improve before the tournament.
“We need to work on keeping our pace on offense and continue to work on our team rebounding because our defense has been really good this year,” said Peterson.
The team’s Head Coach, Marcus Kahn, spoke of a few athletes who aided in an outstanding season, including Saunders, Da’Shawn Cook and Riley Welch. Because they are all seniors, Kahn has recognized them as leaders this season. He also highlighted Peterson’s great performances.
The scoring leaders for the team have been Saunders averaging 15.7, Cook at 12.6 and Riley Welch scoring 11.8 points per game. Peterson has also led the team in rebounding with 8.5 rebounds per game.
The Eagles have also achieved team and individual accomplishments on the court.
“The biggest accomplishment this season personally would be the game that I was finally able to make a three. As a team, I would say our winning streak early in the season,” said Peterson.
While there have been several achievements this season, the team has also endured some troubles.
“We struggle at rebounding the ball, so we need to eliminate that struggle by the time the tournament starts. I have been on a cold streak lately, and I feel in order for me to get out of it I need to attack the basket and get to the free-throw line,” said Saunders.
Men’s basketball has not won a conference title since the 2013-2014 season, dating back to when the school was under the Capital Athletic Conference, and this year’s team is looking to change this.
“We have set a goal at the beginning of the year to win the conference, and we have a good opportunity in the next couple weeks to achieve that goal,” said Kahn.
The Eagles are working towards advancing to the national championship.
“Our goal is to win the conference and make the national tournament, so we haven’t reached our goals yet, but we’re working towards them,” said Peterson.
Ranked first in the Coast-To-Coast conference, the Christopher Newport Captains have a 21-2 record and currently have an 18-game winning streak.
“I’ve had a successful collegiate career, but it’s very important to me that I go out with a conference championship for this school. We can do very big things and I want our school to surpass CNU,” said Saunders.
The team will compete against Christopher Newport on Feb. 19 and then head off to the Coast-To-Coast tournament the following week. The NCAA tournament officially starts on March 4 and will continue with several rounds throughout the month.