Mountain Lion Men seek to build confident, talented basketball team

Nov. 26, 2012

Kyle Marino
kmarino@uccs.edu

After a 9-17 season, the men’s basketball team came into this year knowing that changes needed to be made to boost morale and build a winning culture.

Athletic Director Stephen Kirkham believed that Jeff Culver was the right man for the job and hired the first-year head coach, who has an ambitious goal.

“It’s going to take some time, but the goal here is to get our program on the national level and eventually win a Division II championship,” said Culver.

With eight new players joining the team and a revamped coaching staff, coordinating the head coach and players has not always been easy. But the team has an air of confidence heading into the season.

“We have a lot of new faces, but we are feeling good, much improved from last year, and we are focusing on getting on the same page,” Culver said.

“I believe I have 10 starters on my team and plan on using a 10-man rotation,” he added. “Guys will be pushing each other for minutes, and we have a lot of different options.”

Athleticism and sharpshooting could be the key to the Mountain Lion’s success this year, as the frontcourt is raw but has potential to thrive.

“We are very quick and shoot well on the perimeter; our frontcourt is raw, but we are working on utilizing our big men and their abilities,” Culver said.

Perhaps one of the most important players on the team and someone to keep an eye out for this year is sophomore shooting guard Darius Pardner.

“Darius is a little undersized for the two guard position, but he is my version of Richard Hamilton,” Culver said. “He has bailed us out a few times with his competitive spirit and quickness.”

Pardner, the team’s second-leading scorer from last season, leads a confident, sharp-shooting and athletic backcourt for the Mountain Lions.

“Right now I am filling in for Jake Darby at the starting two guard, but usually I come in off the bench to provide a Jamaal Crawford, James Harden-like spark for our team,” said Pardner.

If this team works hard and learns to play together, it could be a formidable foe not only this year but for years to come.

According to Pardner, “We have the upmost confidence and we are a hard working team. Our goal is to run deep into the RMAC tournament and into the NCAA tournament, point, blank and period.”