It’s that time of year again: college basketball is back. With the return of men’s basketball at Mercer University, it's time to delve deep into this season’s roster and their expectations.
Last season, the men’s team finished at 18-11 overall. However, their 8-9 record in conference play was only good enough for seventh in the nine-team division.
Despite this, the team reached their first Southern Conference Championship game after an impressive tournament run. Their streak included wins over Samford, Wofford and VMI before the team ultimately fell short against top seed UNC Greensboro. Other impressive wins came against the likes of Georgia Tech earlier in the year.
A number of influential players will be returning for the upcoming season. These include prolific playmaker Neftali Alvarez and star forward Felipe Haase. Alvarez averaged 13.3 points-per-game and 4.2 assists a game while Haase averaged 11.9 points and 7.6 rebounds. Alvarez also showed defensive prowess at his position, notching the highest average steals per game at 1.4.
Despite these key inclusions, some influential names have moved on from last year. None will be missed more than guard Ross Cummings. The guard from Dickson, Tennessee averaged 13.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game on 45.9% shooting from the field. His multiple seasons at Mercer produced memorable three-pointers and a prolific scoring trend.
With new additions to the roster like guards Jordan Jones and Jalen Johnson, though, the upcoming season promises to excite despite some players moving on.
Head coach Greg Gary will take charge of the team for the third consecutive season. According to Mercer Athletics, Gary has led the team to 35 wins over the previous two seasons, giving him the highest win total for any Bears coach over their first two seasons.
Mercer basketball will begin their season on Wednesday, Nov. 3rd at Hawkins Arena where they will take on Fort Valley State University in hopes of starting the season off with a win. The game tips off at 7 p.m.