Despite new faces on the roster and multiple new tournaments, Loyola men’s club basketball is on the right track to success, both on and off the court.
Last year, the team won its conference in the National Club Basketball Association (NCBBA). However, because of the high cost to participate in the NCBBA, this year they will be playing in independent tournaments as a part of the National Intramural-Recreation Sports Association (NIRSA).
Even though the tournaments are different, the team will keep up its rigorous work towards victory.
“NIRSA is a national organization that hosts regional tournaments for club basketball teams,” said senior Connor Harlander, the team president. “If we win one of those, we go to the national tournament. That’s the goal.”
The regional tournaments take place in the spring and are held at the University of Illinois and Oakland University in Michigan. Nationals are held in April.
Even though the team hasn’t played any games yet, it has had six practices that helped the team gel as a unit on the court.
The team has seven new players, three of whom are freshmen. During practices, they have been working towards meshing the new players with their original members and acclimating them to their playing style and ability to play in high-intensity moments.
“It will be interesting to see how our younger guys respond to pressure situations,” Harlander said.
With the new faces come new roles on the team. Previously, the team was mainly guard-oriented. But this year’s new players bring the team a lot more height, allowing them to gain offensive strength.
“People will be able to create on offense, which will be a major booster,” Harlander said.
Practices aren’t the only time the team sees the court. though. Several team members are also members of Loyola’s women’s basketball team’s practice squad, and others coach at Sacred Heart Elementary School.
“We get a lot of basketball in during the week,” Harlander said. One goal the team has for this semester is to win the second annual Rambler Rumble, their major home-event, on Nov. 15. Bradley University, Marquette University, Northwestern University, Indiana State University and DePaul University will all be playing in the tournament.
As important as winning is, team members have many other, more personal goals that they hope to accomplish this season.
Mainly, the team wants to keep the players together as the club’s foundation lies on the close friendships of its members.
“We want to keep the brotherhood together, even beyond our school years,” Harlander said.
This has become increasingly important because many of the team’s original members graduated last year.
The former members are working towards eventually building an alumni following, which is how most club sports teams receive their funding and inspiration to continue winning. However, since the organization was formed in January of 2013, funding from alumni members may not happen in the near future.
The team is also working toward maintaining a larger presence on campus. It is planning to participate in other organizations’ activities and support other clubs and sports in order to show its support for the community and make a larger name for itself.
The team begins its season next weekend, Oct. 18, when itw will travel to University of Wisconsin-Madison. Information about the team can be found on its Facebook page, Loyola University of Chicago Men’s Club Basketball Team.