Team chemistry helping men’s basketball team succeed

By Mari Pothier |

Photographs by Phillip C. Sunkel IV

For Senior John Pietkiewicz, the main reason for the men’s basketball team’s success this season is team chemistry.

Pietkiewicz said there is no attitude among the players, which is rare in a college basketball program. Most teams, he said, have players who are unhappy about minutes and shots.

“But on this team everybody gets along great with each other and I think that’s the number one reason that’s contributed to our success,” Pietkiewicz said. 

That success has meant a 9-3 record through January and toppling Peach Belt Conference foes USC Aiken, Augusta State and Lander. Last year the team went 11-16 overall and finished 6-12 against Peach Belt teams.

Head coach Bo Clark said he thinks the team’s rebounding and defense have also been major contributors to their success.

“I think the last game against Lander, which we won 73-69, we really didn’t shoot the ball that well, kind of struggled offensively,” Clark said. “But our mainstay was our defense and then we out rebounded them, too, and that’s a good sign that you can not be efficient offensively and not shoot that well and still win games.”

Clark also said the seniors’ experience and being familiar with the Peach Belt Conference teams have helped the Saints win games.

“I just hope they stay hungry and humble because I think that sometimes your can feel good about yourself as a team and as a player, but somebody is going to try to knock you off,” Clark said.

Both Clark and assistant coach Andrew Garcia know the team can’t get too excited because they still have 14 games against Peach Belt teams left in the season.

“We have to stay grounded and not get too full of ourselves and feel like we can just show up and win games,” Garcia said. “We can’t in this league. It’s just too hard.”

Clark said the team’s goal this season is to make the conference tournament and then hopefully go on to win the conference championship. Last season the Saints were only one game away from getting into the top eight which would have made them eligible to play in the conference tournament.

“There’s no off nights in the Peach Belt,” Pietkiewicz said. “We got to come to play every night, but if we keep working hard and improving hopefully we’ll have a chance to achieve some of our goals.”

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