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Mounties on a mission as basketball season starts

The Mountaineers blew out their first win against Boyce College in their season opener Tuesday evening (108-46).

As they push to prepare for their upcoming match ups against tough competitors in the next week, the Mountaineers are out to prove they are the best not only in basketball, but in everything they do.

As Coach John Mills shares, “It’s going to be a very exciting year. We’re playing a very exciting schedule. We’ve got a lot of old time rivals coming to town. Some haven’t been on our gym floor in 20 years. It’s a great time to be a Mountaineer fan. Our schedule is pretty tough this year. But these guys are very competitive in nature, so that’s good. The guys like to play good competition because it makes them better. You have to play hard all the time or you’ll get beat. So come out and we’ll put on a show for `em. We would love to pack the arena for our games.”

This Homecoming weekend the Mountaineers will be going up against OSU Mansfield and taking on their old rivals at Transylvania University at 7:30 Tuesday night (November 17). Coach Mills encourages the fans to come out and show the players some support. Mills shares that this year he has really high expectations for the players this season. He feels confident that with the strong leadership of the upperclassmen (2 seniors, four juniors) and the strong work ethic of the freshmen and sophomores, this season is going to be a very exciting season for the Berea College Mountaineers.

The Mountaineers have gone through heavy conditioning throughout the preseason. The coaches have drilled them in fundamentals, the offensive and defensive structures we have. The coaches have also been keeping a watchful eye on the players to read which situations the players best fit in, and regiment their activities on and off the court.

Coach Mills comments, “The key thing they have to understand is that academics come first and we don’t take away from class so that they can participate in ball. But the other big piece is the labor program. They’ve got to fulfill that responsibility as well. But as coaches, we know all of the requirements here and we fit our work around the college expectations. Personally, I went to one of the six work colleges when I was in college; so I know the demands of the student body here at Berea and it’s not easy. “

Mills admits it is the responsibility of the coaches to help keep the players motivated to push themselves through their demanding schedules so they make it. He shares how helpful it has been to be able to do this with the leadership of his standout players.

“Mikah Turner does a great job with it. He’s a senior, one of our captains. Josh Mallory is another senior. Those guys have been through it and what they do is talk with the younger guys and say, 'listen you don’t want to screw this up. You want to make sure that when you’re asked to do something that you do it. When it’s time for you to go to class don’t go in one minute late, show up five minutes early.' So they’re all about doing things the right way. It’s good to have upperclassmen that have grown into that mode of thinking. So I’m really proud of Josh and Mikah, really proud of them."

Mills also shared how helpful it has been to have such strong leadership during the preseason to help the players overcome and re-cooperate from some of the illness on campus.

“We’ve had six of our guys come down with H1N1 and we’ve had 2 others that were out with the flu. So we’ve been hit hard. Our team is not immune and sometimes people think that just because they’re athletes that they don’t get the same things that normal students get.”

Despite the illnesses, Coach Mills feels confident the Mountaineers are willing to do everything in their power to represent the campus the way everyone feels it should be represented. He is already preparing to get the players ready, not just for games but also to participate in some of their upcoming service events. This year, the players will be participating once again in the Helping Hands food drive sponsored by the campus food service program. Last year the players collected over 2000 pounds of food. And the entire team was also represented to help out and work the basketball events of the “Boomer Games.” This season, on the weekend of December 4 and 5, the team will also be hosting the Wierwille Hoops Classic.

Mills shares, “As you can see, we want this campus to take ownership of this team. And we’re going to do our part to represent this campus and the community with the utmost sportsmanship and integrity. We know we’re going to make some mistakes along the way but we will take care of those and fix them. But when we hit that floor, we don’t hit the floor just for ourselves. We hit it for everyone here. It’s a great way to blow off steam, it’s a great way to get rid of some of the pressure that the day has brought upon you and it’s fun. This team is fun to watch. They’re exciting to watch. And if you come once, you’ll come back, so give us a chance to prove to you what we do and show you what we do.”

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