Men’s basketball began their offseason training and forming relationships over the majority of the summer to prepare for the incoming 2021-22 season with a revamped roster.
After the exit of eight players both during and after last season, Head Coach Jamion Christian said he focused on using the summer to bring his team together after bringing in transfers in the month of April along with a handful of returners. Last year, he said he didn’t have all his players back until almost September due to delays and issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, while the majority of other teams in the A-10 got everyone back in July.
This year, Christian said he preaches to the team that “connections are gifts” and it’s been a “major benefit” that the majority of the team has been at GW since the end of May
“We just didn’t have the time last year to dig deeper,” Christian said. “And so I really appreciate the time this year when we were able to really connect with our players. The first two weeks, we spent only talking about culture, our way of life and how we like to operate. Because I felt like that was really important before we did any basketball.”
He said the summer was important for the team since it allowed the players to bond with each other on a personal level, especially coming out of a year altered by the pandemic.
“Great teams have great love,” Christian said. “You build some of that through basketball, but you build a lot of that through talking about trials and tribulations that guys have had, and bonding together over something much bigger than yourself.”
Sophomore center Noel Brown said the team spent a lot of time outside of practice on the court playing games amongst themselves in addition to just being friends.
“We could do a lot of pickup and we could play a lot together to just kind of feel each other out,” Brown said. “We hang a lot, we hang out a lot outside of practice like involuntarily and I think that helps us when we get onto the court.”
As a newcomer, graduate student guard Brendan Adams said the team spent a lot of time learning on and off the court to bond the team and build a sense of chemistry with one another, even through their mistakes.
“Really learning what it’s gonna take for this team to gel together, cause it’s different for every team,” Adams said. “So that was a big part of the summer. But we also spent a lot of time just learning the system, going through a new offense, trial and error, we spent a lot of time just figuring it out.”
Junior guard James Bishop said the summer training also allowed the team to see what they had with a new roster, while also focusing on the team’s ability on both sides of the ball. He said he was able to get long hours in the gym and create a “rapport” with his teammates.
“So having that time to really get in here and work out with the guys and play with the guys, it really helped us and really built our bond and built camaraderie on the court,” Bishop said. “And then just focusing a lot on defense. Being able to guard and keep guys from scoring. Offense is just getting the flow of everything and getting the continuity and learning what guys are like out there and just each other on the court.”
Christian said the veterans of last year’s squad have proved crucial to establishing the squad’s offense and culture and continuing what they had last season, specifically senior forward Ricky Lindo Jr. and Bishop.
“I feel like we have a roster full of guys that are two way players,” Christian said. “So I felt like the amount of time we’ve been able to have has really been beneficial to us, maybe more so than anyone else. Because we needed that time to gel. I do feel like we’re on pace right now.”