It was a heartbreaking end to the season for the University of Indianapolis Men’s Basketball team last spring when they found out about the cancellation of athletics due to COVID-19. Since then, the program has endured losing four of its starters due to graduation and transferring, an entirely new coaching staff, and a slew of new recruits. Now, with the news that they are getting a season despite the complications, it has made all the work since April meaningful, according to Head Men’s Basketball Coach Paul Corsaro.
“To find out that we were playing basketball, that was really exciting for the student-athletes and the coaching staff,” Corsaro said. “This is what we’ve been working for for the last four or five months. So to get that good news is really exciting and has really rejuvenated us and got us ready to go.”
Of the 15-man roster, six are returners from last year’s squad, with only four of them seeing any action as redshirt senior guard Dee Montgomery and redshirt freshman forward Jesse Bingham were redshirted, according to UIndy Athletics. Of those four that saw playing time, the standout is senior guard Cory Miller Jr. who was fourth in points per game with 12 last season and ended up as GLVC All Defensive Team, according to UIndy Athletics. Corsaro said that both Miller and Montogomery are doing great jobs as leaders for the team and that he is ready to see Miller take that next step. According to Miller, the team is excited to compete.
“[We’re a] tough, talented group of athletes and we’re coached really well. We’re all ready for the season,” Miller said. “…We’re all just itching to get back on the court and get to work. We don’t take any second for granted.”
The team was not able to meet in person for quite some time due to the pandemic. According to Corsaro, one of the biggest focuses during the off-season was trying to build chemistry within the team.
“The first thing that we did was we focused on connection and relationship building, because to me, that’s even more important than the basketball, that in order to become a great team, we needed to become a family first,” Corsaro said. “And we spent time doing a lot of team building exercises over Zoom for the most part during the core part of this pandemic before we were able to get together, I think that enabled our players to get to know each other better.”
Corsaro said that even as chemistry off the court builds, the struggle is going to be on the court with the new players and the new coaches. He said it is going to take time for the team to work well together and there are going to be issues in the beginning.
“I think that’s why I’m excited to actually start playing some games,” Corsaro said. “Because there’s going to be some growing pains that come along with that. We’re going to have to learn on the fly with some of that.”
But the competitive nature of the team is what is really helping it so far, according to Corsaro. He said that as a coaching staff, they are not having to force that competitive fire out of the players, that they are going hard in practice and it is putting the team in a good position to be successful.
“They come ready to compete every day, that every single drill we do, we have guys give their maximum effort,” Corsaro said. “And I think not having to coach competitive nature and be able to coach X’s and O’s is gonna yield, hopefully, a lot of wins and losses, because at the end of the day, it’s about how bad you want it and the effort that you put out there. So the fact that they have that inner drive and that comes from within, it’s not manufactured by me or our staff. I think that’s going to put us in a good spot.”
According to Corsaro, we are going to see a very tough and fast Hounds team this year. He said the goal is to be able to cover both ends of the floor well and to be physical and tough in every aspect of the game. Miller said that the team should be very good within the fast breaks.
According to Miller, he is excited to play the University of Southern Indiana as that is where former Head Coach Stan Gouard and former starting center Jacob Polakovich went. However, according to Corsaro, they are going to be taking it one game at a time.
“I’m excited to play all the games. I don’t like to circle certain dates or eye one team or another, gotta take it one game at a time, as cliche as that sounds, but it’s the way it is,” Corsaro said. “So I’m really excited for Nov. 27, cause that’s our first game.”
The Hounds will start their season off on Nov. 27 in Nicoson Hall where they will face the William Jewell College Cardinals.