Hopes soar for No. 17 team as they kick off the season

The men’s basketball squad, led by a group of four seniors, will travel across town to compete against North Park in their first game of the season.

By Alec Miller

The leaves are falling and the temperatures are dropping. Yes, it’s that time of year again: basketball season. Chicago will open up their 2015–2016 season this Saturday against North Park.

Last season the Maroons finished 16–9 overall and are looking to improve on that this year. The team is bringing back all five starters­­­ ­­—third-years Tyler Howard and Waller Perez, and fourth-years Jordan Smith, Nate Brooks and Alex Voss—from last year.

Third-year starting point guard Tyler Howard is excited about the team’s experience. “We have the entire team back from last year including our starting five. The year of experience under our belt will be huge when we’re playing good teams or close games,” Howard said.

The Maroons also brought in four first-years this year to help the team. The first-years—Noah Karras, Max Jacobs, Justin Jackson, and Ryan Jacobsen—will all be young players to watch out for this season and in years to come.

The team finished fourth in the UAA last year with a conference record of 8–6. However, they were not far behind last year’s conference winner Emory who had a record of 10–4. Chicago hopes that this year’s mix of experience and youth can prove to be a deadly combination and hoist them to the top of the conference.

Although this is the first regular season game for the Maroons this year, it is not the first game that they have played this year. Over the summer, the team went on an adventure to the land down under and played an exhibition game in Australia.

Howard believes this trip helped the squad. “Although we only played one game during the trip we got to practice and workout as a team for 10 days in the preseason. This was a great jumpstart to our season because it allowed us to run through our offense and defense so when the first practice of the year came we were ready to go,” Howard said.

With the off-season fully behind them, the South Siders focus in on their first opponent. North Park finished 15–10 last year, which is just one game worse than the Maroons. If last year’s records are a sign, the game will be tightly contested. The Maroons have scouted their opponent and are prepared for this tight matchup.

“North Park is a quick team and has one of the best scorers in the country so we’ll need to slow him down in order to give us the best shot of winning the game,” Howard said. The player Howard mentioned is Juwan Henry, who averaged 22.5 points per game last year. The Maroons will need to keep him on lock down if they want to come out victorious.

The South Siders are looking forward to opening the season with a win. Chicago will tip-off against North Park at 7 p.m. on Saturday at North Park. After Saturday the team’s next game is against Lake Forest on Tuesday.