The 2016-2017 Mercer Men’s Basketball team struggled to stay on the court due to issues in the classroom, and when they were on the court they weren’t exactly the ‘96 Chicago Bulls.
Last season’s team won just two games, and just two of last year’s players are returning to the team this season. Guards Dave Coulanges from Burlington Twp. High School, and Jamir Jenkins from Nottingham High School are the two returning from last season. Jenkins will start the season injured, but Athletic Director John Simone believes he will return to form soon and provide an immediate impact. Simone told The VOICE, “He’ll be back soon and ready to play.”
One of the biggest advantages, but also one of the biggest disadvantages for Mercer this season will be the arrival of their 14 new players. It may be hard for the Vikings to roll at first, but some believe this team will mesh well.
Of those 14 new players, Guard/Forward Eddie Williams from Calvary Christian High School in Clearwater, FL is a player that is expected to have a big season. Simone believes that along with Williams, John Evans, a guard from Camden High, will be in the lineup as well to provide some life in their offense. Simone believes that having John Evans, a guard coming from Camden High, in the lineup along with Williams will give some life to their offense.
The offseason for any team is essential for improvement, especially for a team with a 2-24 record. According to Head Coach Howard Levy one of this team’s improvements was that they do have new players is the new blood. When asked about what improvements have been made since last season, Levy told this VOICE reporter, “It can’t get any worse right?” Levy then added, “We got 13-14 new players, and I think we got a lot more talent, and a good level of unselfishness.”
Assistant Coach Jon Jemigan gave The VOICE his opinion, “We have a lot of depth. I don’t think we have too many falloffs.”
Along with Jemigan, Simone and Levy also weighed in. Simone said, “I believe our defense is going to be a huge strength for us this year.”
Levy believes that their energy will be a key factor for the Vikings. He told The VOICE, “We have six or seven pretty explosive guys that can move, and that can score.”
No team is perfect–unless of course you’re the 1972 Miami Dolphins–which means that with strengths come weaknesses.
Transfer player Tory Whiting says, “I think our chemistry could be something to look at at first, because most of us are new.” He added, “Once we start gelling, and playing together, we’re going to be good.”
The 2016-2017 season was forgettable, but the buzz around the 2017-2018 team and staff is that they will be remembered.
Simone says, “I think this team will make a run into the playoffs.”
Mercer’s season tips-off on Nov. 4 as the Vikings take on Cumberland County College at the Northampton Invitational.