High hopes for men’s basketball season

As the Men’s Basketball team is preparing for the season, Rodney Watson begins his 9th year as head basketball coach. Coach Watson is 203-65 overall in his eight years with the team. Watson and the team constructed a 20 game winning streak making them 20-11 in the 2017 season. The Shield sits down with the Men’s Head Basketball Coach Rodney Watson to talk about the upcoming season.

The Shield: What is the Strategies for the upcoming season? What are your goals?

Watson: The goal here is in the middle of our gym is a blue banner, and that is a national championship from 1995, and that team has set the standard. But in order to get to that level it takes the process is…it’s more than just saying we are going to win a national championship. It starts with recruiting, and we feel like we have a balanced deep team.

The Shield: What is the biggest accomplishment?

Watson: It starts with recruiting. Recruiting is always ongoing. The next part is conditioning and really working on skill and that’s kind the sort of the phase of the process we are in right now. Individually we are trying to get guys physically strong, physically in condition. We are trying to improve their current skill level both on offense and defense. Both as an individual and also start building that as a team. October 15th is our first official practice from that time until Nov. 9th when we open up at UIS in Springfield against Hillsdale. So we have between now and that time to really work our team into a 5 man unit.

The Shield: Who is the biggest rival?

Watson: We play Indiana and Butler and that’s great because we will be challenged at a very high level. It really helps you play stronger and faster. We have a conference game against our rival, which is Bellarmine on Dec. 1, which we will talk a lot about between now and then. As non conference comes to a close, at the end of the year, you start your league play and our league always one of the best leagues

The Shield: Who are your key players?

Watson: Well I think the seniors are very key because they have been here and they understand that process as well as anyone. Alex Stein is a returning All American. He is a terrific player. He  is just a classic college basketball player. Just a great guard. Jacob Norman is in his fourth year as a senior. Nate Hansen is a 2nd year senior transfer from Vincennes. For those three guys that’s where it starts. We have Mateo Rivera and Emanuel Little that are returning from last year’s team that saw a lot of significant action.

The Shield: Rumor has it that your contract has not been renewed any comment? Concern?

Watson: Yeah I don’t know so much about that that stuff is my contract is a great contract. The contract part of everything is you know that’s whatever. It is an interesting question, but in terms of recruiting you know at this stage this University sells itself. The program sells itself, and we don’t get too worried what contracts say.