After reaching the PacWest Championship a year ago before falling just short of a conference title, another successful season is not unprecedented, even with the loss of five seniors.
In comparison to recent PLNU history, however, calling the 2017-18 men’s basketball season a “successful season” would be an understatement. With a 15-4 record in the conference and standing at 21-7 overall with just one more game left to play, the team has already won more games in PacWest play than it ever has. With a winning percentage of .750, the last comparable season would be 1999-2000, when the team posted a .800 winning percentage (28-7).
While there is a lot of credit to be attributed, perhaps the most notable factor is head coach Ryan Looney, who spent five seasons at Eastern Oregon and seven seasons at Seattle Pacific before joining Point Loma in 2016.
“All of our players have had a significant role this year,” said Looney in an email interview, who had a lot of players to mention as being a part of the recent success. “Preston Beverly has scored a lot of points. Tanner Nelson is our best shooter and has done a great job defensively. Ziggy Satterthwaite has given us a consistent post presence. We have been our best when Josh Rodriguez has sacrificed and been our floor general. Sterling Somers is our glue guy that does a little of everything. The unsung heroes on our team are AJ Firey, Sam Linsky, Jacob Maga and Sean Dunn. When we prepare for our opponents each week, they help our rotation guys get ready to play!”
A team effort is key to a historic season, but according to senior forward Tyler White, a growing period was initially expected due to offseason roster changes.
“I don’t think we really had any idea what to expect from this season in the beginning,” said White in an email interview. “We knew that we had the talent to have a special year but we knew there would be a growing period. Luckily, the new guys matured and bought in quickly and the returners stepped up to fill roles that we lost last year.”
Even if the record doesn’t reflect it currently, chemistry development appeared to be a key story toward the beginning of the season. Following a 6-5 start, the team has since gone on a 15-2 run to reach their current record of 21-7.
Still, there would be disappointment if the team fails to deliver in the postseason. Despite reaching the Championship game last year as an underdog #6 seed, the ending was painful to endure and something that the team would not want to experience again.
“Yes, last year was definitely hard for us,” said junior point guard Josh Rodriguez in an email interview. “Our goal for this year is to not feel that hurt for a second year in a row.”
Before the postseason, the team will take on Dixie State at home on Senior Night this Saturday at 4 p.m. Postseason play will begin March 1.