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Other stories filed under Sports
January 29, 2019
When the Nicholls State University men’s basketball team faces Lamar University on Wednesday, it is not only aiming to win but to keep a perfect record at home this season.
Since the team’s season began back in November with its first game against Mississippi College, the Colonels have managed to win six consecutive games at home. Despite having ups and downs when playing on the road, winning at home is something essential for the team’s tradition and for school pride.
“[Winning at home] is a team tradition…We try not to lose at home. We never lose at home. We protect home, so it’s a tradition that we play hard, and we always win at home,” senior center Daniel Regis said.
However, there are more reasons why the team has managed to perform better at home versus away, since college basketball on the road can be mentally tough.
“College basketball on the road is hard to win. It’s mentally tough,” sophomore guard Kevin Johnson said. “When we play at home, we have to have a chip on our shoulder and believe that no one will come into our house and cruise to a win.”
Despite having lost their last three games on the road, the players seem to have confidence going into the game against Lamar.
“I feel good going into our game knowing how we have been preparing in practice for Lamar, so I’m very confident going into the game,” Johnson said.
Furthermore, Regis said that the match against Lamar is a must-win situation, meaning that all the players have to have a winning mentality.
“This is a must-win situation for us. We have to win this game, so we got to have the mindset that this game is like game seven at the finals. We have to win,” Regis said. “I mean, Lamar is not really doing that good in the conference, so I think that we can beat them. We will work on a game plan and figure it out.”
This season, the team welcomed a new head coach following Richie Riley’s departure. Although it is his first season, the players said head coach Austin Claunch is doing well continuing the success from last year.
“I feel like our new head coach, Austin Claunch, has picked up from where Coach Riley left off. Everything is a building block for a successful program,” Johnson said.
According to Regis, Claunch has changed the tactics slightly, modifying the speed of the game.
“We try to play a little bit faster. We run shorter guards at the starting position,” Regis said. “He is doing great, although we lost a couple of games. But most of the games that we lost we were right there. I mean, it’s his first year, so we are still getting used to it and breaking into it, but we get it by the time conference really starts.”
For Claunch, becoming the new head coach has not been a major transition, since he had been an assistant coach for the Colonels since 2016. However, some transitions have happened since the Colonels started the season with almost an entirely new team.
For Claunch, the three returners have been helpful to create the right work ethic.
“Having that foundation with returners, even if it is only three of them, it’s been everything because there is an expectation [that] you are going to work harder than you ever thought you were going to work every single day,” Claunch said. “I think the program is in another place now, obviously coming off a conference championship, now at the same time, we have 10 brand new guys. I do think that it’s nice to see that trophy at the office, and it’s something that I want our guys to feel that and have something to work to. Wearing the ‘Nicholls’ on your chest means more than anything at the moment for the basketball team.”
The Colonels will play Lamar on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in David R. Stopher Gymnasium.