As ENC Men’s Basketball season comes to a close, reflect back on the exciting season they had. The team ended with an overall record of 14-13 and a conference record of 8-4. The Lions suffered a loss of 73-69 against Mitchell College which ended their season in the second round of semifinals. After being number one in the conference for a few weeks, they finished third in the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC).
The men’s team will lose seven players this year as Noah Cheney, Garrett Crandell, Christian Garcia, Andrew Mitchell, Josh Rice, Ricky Shearman, and Jacob Waldroop graduate and part with the team. Their chemistry is what the team attributes to most of their success. Only having three new additions to the team this season, the guys had all played together before. With some members playing together for multiple years, they have gotten to know each other’s styles and who plays well together, said Cheney. Waldroop added they were always well prepared and their coaches put them in the right positions to win.
Reflecting back on the season, several of the seniors shared how their Thanksgiving break trip to North Carolina was one of their favorite parts of the season. It was a highlight for all of them because the bonding experience there was so rich. Mitchell reflected on how they got to spend all their time together outside of just practice times and games. Shearman also shared how getting to see other campus’s facilities and traveling together was so much fun. Garcia mentioned a favorite part was simply creating a stronger bond with his other teammates that will hopefully last a lifetime after graduation. Rice agreed, explaining “being a college student can be really stressful at times so having a place where you can go to just play the game you love with these guys was such as blessing.” Crandell added that the first few conference games were one of his highlights of the season, when the team went 6-0 in the conference, finally getting the wins they worked so hard for. “We just decided we weren’t going to lose anymore; we came together as more of a team rather than individuals,” Crandell said.
The team’s overall health played a huge impact at the end of their season. Throughout the year, the team suffered from lingering injuries that resulted in being benched. Sickness toward the end of the season really halted them, Shearman said, who was not able to play in his last game. Going into the first round of the semifinals, three players were sick which led to about six players having the flu when the Mitchell game came around. The health of the team was definitely a factor in their playoff loss because players were not at their full strength.
Looking to the future, these seven players are all over the map. Mitchell will be finishing his Master’s degree next year here at ENC with possible coaching opportunities in the future. Waldroop will also be sticking around, working as a graduate assistant for the men’s basketball team. Garcia is planning to stay in the Boston area, exploring opportunities in the construction industry. Additionally, Crandell plans to either join the military or play basketball overseas. Cheney will be moving to Indianapolis, Indiana to work for the NCAA. Rice is considering being a graduate assistant, entering the workforce, or maybe even playing hoops internationally. Lastly, Shearman plans to move home to Georgia, start working and finish planning his wedding.
The teammates agreed that they all will not be playing basketball, at least for a while, with the exception of Garrett and Josh. However, some of them shared that maybe in a few years they’ll join a men’s league. Although some of their serious playing days may be over, they could never fully walk away from the game.
Basketball is a sport that these seniors have grown to love throughout their many years playing competitively. They all shared that the game has taught them a lot more that carries into other aspects of their lives as well. They had a few parting words to share:
“It’s taught me the ability to focus on what you’re doing and how to build relationships in order to work effectively on a team.” –Andrew Mitchell
“It’s taught me how to be humble and not take things for granted. I’ve learned not to be too high after a big win, and never too low after a tough loss.”–Christian Garcia
“Discipline is the first thing that comes to mind. Having to be on time everywhere and follow certain instructions has helped me in my everyday life.” -Garrett Crandell
“Basketball has taught me how to work extremely hard. In order to be good at something you really have to work at it. A great work ethic is something I can take into my future jobs, my marriage, and eventually when I have a family.” –Jacob Waldroop
“I have learned to stop and smell the roses along your journey- the climb really is usually just as valuable as the destination. I will never forget the friends and memories that I have made as a basketball player.” –Josh Rice
“Communication is huge when working with people of all different backgrounds. Basketball has also taught me time management, managing time on and off the court to succeed in all areas of life.” -Noah Cheney
“The biggest three things for me are work ethic, discipline, and sacrifice.” –Ricky Shearman
At the end of the season, Garrett Crandell was selected for a spot on the All-NECC first team. He started 23 out of 25 games this season and ended up ranking fifth in the whole conference averaging 15.5 points per game. Crandell was glad he received the award but he felt like they deserved more as a team. He felt as if more players should’ve received recognition and that the NECC didn’t really give the team the credit they deserved. On January 29 in Lahue Gymnasium, against Mitchell College, Crandell surpassed the 1,500-point mark in his collegiate career. He attributes a lot of his success to his teammates helping him to get there and having their trust and support through everything.
Noah Cheney also received a spot on the All-NECC second team, starting 18 out of the 25 games and averaging 12.9 points per game in the conference. He describes this award as being a huge honor.
On February 19 in an away game against New England College, Cheney became the 34th player in ENC’s history to reach 1,000 career points. He said even though it appears to be an individual accolade, he also attributes a lot of his success to his teammates. Cheney believes that his coaches and his family helped him a lot throughout the years and has them to thank. His name will appear under teammate Josh Rice’s on the 1,000-point banner in the gym.
With the seven seniors graduating, the team is left with just seven more players on their varsity team. ENC Men’s Basketball has the option of pulling up some players from the junior varsity team but they must also be recruiting hard right now to gain some new talent to bring to the school.
All the graduating seniors love the game and are grateful for the opportunity to play at ENC.