Joi Moore, Sports Writer
Over the course of just one year, the Samford men’s basketball program has had a huge turnaround under the provision of head coach Scott Padgett. Padgett has instilled his competitive nature into his players, which has worked in their favor. The team had a 12-5 start this season, which was the best start in school history since the 1998-1999 season. At one point this season, the Bulldogs were competing with Furman for first place in the Southern Conference. Even though the team lost, Samford has remained a strong conference contender.
Some of the starters on last year’s team said they see a definite difference compared to this year’s squad. Sophomore Wyatt Walker said the team has improved exceptionally with the addition of 3-point shooters.
“Having guys that can really shoot the ball on the perimeter has been a great asset this season,” Walker said.
Several of the players also believe that they have been more prepared to face conference teams, such as Furman and Wofford, because of the tougher non-conference schedule early in the season.
“We’ve definitely had our ups and downs this year. Adjusting to the new faces and team chemistry has taken some time getting used to. However, it’s working out in our favor,” said starting point guard Christen Cunningham.
After the Bulldogs returned from last week’s tough road losses at Wofford and Furman, Padgett had to sit down and figure out what weaknesses have been keeping his team from winning.
“What we need to do starting this week is get back to fundamentals and lock in on each guy knowing his job and executing it.” Padgett said. “Team defense is about trust, and we have lost some of that lately.”
Despite the losses, the men’s basketball team still has confidence in one another and plans on bouncing back from these past few games.
“In the future, I think we also need to do a better job of taking care of the ball and closing out games,” freshman standout Josh Sharkey said.
The men’s basketball team will return to home action Saturday, Feb. 18, against VMI. Tipoff is at 6 p.m.
“I believe the talent is here to get to the championship level,” Padgett said. “Now we just have to find a way to help mesh this team together by the time March gets here.”