The preseason has been muddled with questions for the Bridgewater State University men’s basketball team. And on the eve of their season opener, questions still remain.
“We have a lot of questions, we really do,” said Bridgewater State head coach Joe Farroba. “Our schedule doesn’t help us. We play a very competitive schedule. We’ve always done this and hopefully this will get us ready for our league.”
The Bears will open up their season on the road where they will take part in the Stockton Tip-Off Invitational. Their first opponent will be Richard Stockton College of New Jersey on Friday.
After a disappointing 11-14 record last season, which ended in a 63-60 loss to Fitchburg State University in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Tournament quarterfinals, the Bears look to rebound this year.
“We have a standard and we didn’t uphold to our standard,” Farroba said. “When you are not good or real good, sometimes the margin of error is there. It was always the little things that became the big things. And hopefully we are a year older and more mature.”
Coming into the season, there are question remarks on how the Bears will generate enough offense to win. The Bears lost two of their top three scorers in Shawn Yard and Anthony Fortes to graduation, and besides for junior forward Michael Lofton, no other player on the roster averaged double figures in points last season.
What also could contribute to offensive woes is a lack of guard depth, as they will have to rely on seniors Brendan Monteiro and Brian Grossman to lead the team from the guard position.
“Offensively, there really is a question mark of where that is going to come,” Farroba said. “We’ve got guys I think that can score, but as the games play out we are going to find out who those people are.”
With uncertainty surrounding the offense, the Bears know they have a go-to player in Lofton. Lofton averaged a double-double last season with 14.8 points per game and 10 rebounds per game.
“It’s a burden he is going have to handle,” said Farroba of his main offensive contributor. “He is going to get everybody’s best defensive effort now. He is a known entity. We can’t have Mike Lofton play up-and-down. He has to find a level of consistency.”
Now a captain, Lofton is hoping the added responsibility will help make a difference for him out on the court.
“It adds a big responsibility,” Lofton said. “I did it in high school but obviously college is a bigger step up than high school. I feel as though that this can motivate me to be a better player in practice and work harder being captain.”
After struggling last season, Bridgewater State comes into this season under the radar and doubts have surfaced on the ceiling of this team. The Bears were picked to finish fourth in the MASAC preseason poll.
“We are definitely under the radar after having such a horrible season last year,” Lofton said. “It definitely fuels us to go harder at practice every day.”
With a mix of older and younger players, it will be up to the Bears’ leadership to see if they can turn things around this season.
Senior forward Michael Grandfield and senior guard Justin Clark were both elected captains, along with Lofton, by their teammates.
Grandfield is looking to get the team back to where he was in 2011, a MASCAC Tournament championship and spot in the NCAA Tournament.
“The main thing is we all have to stick together and support each other,” Grandfield said. “This year, we really have to have patience and communication on the offensive and defensive end.”
In his 22nd season as head coach, Farroba currently sits at 299 career wins and is on the verge of the 300 career win milestone.
“If you do something long enough, something like that is going to happen,” Farroba said. “I’ll feel very good about it because I think it is a pretty good milestone. I’ll be honored and personally make a lot of phone calls and thank a lot of people because you don’t do it by yourself.”
Greg Dudek is The Comment’s Editor-In-Chief. Follow him on Twitter at gdudek10 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.