Oct. 27, 2014
In the 2012-13 season, the men’s basketball team finished with a 5-21 record. This season, the Mountain Lions are ranked 17th in all of Division II entering the season, according to the Division II Bulletin.
“It just shows how much better we’ve gotten over the couple years and it’s exciting,” said junior Derrick White.
“It’s an honor. It’s nice to know that people are looking at our team as a whole not just as individuals,” junior Alex Welsh said.
White and Welsh helped lead the team to the final of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Shootout and a berth in the national tournament last season.
White was the top scorer in the south central region with 22.2 points per game and already holds several UCCS records.
“I’m just thinking about the team,” said White. “A team’s success leads to individual accolades. If we keep winning, then the accolades will come.”
“A big thing for me is just doing what I can to contribute to win cause honestly if we win the game and I score one point and one rebound I’m happy. I just want to play my hardest every night.”
Both White and Welsh were named to the All-RMAC Preseason Team and White was awarded Preseason Player of the Year by the conference coaches.
The Mountain Lions were picked to finish second in the conference, behind last season’s rival Metro State, who defeated UCCS in both the RMAC Shootout final and the first round of the NCAA tournament.
White and Welsh know the rankings won’t last.
“It’s nice to get the recognition,” said Welsh. “It’s an honor to be up there but you can’t take it to heart because throughout the year the rankings are going to move up and down. Everyone is hungry.”
“It’s exciting to finally get recognized as a top team in the country but it’s just a start,” White said. “We want to move up higher in the rankings.”
Head coach Jeff Culver is entering his third season and doesn’t set too much stock in preseason rankings.
“We don’t look a lot into it,” said Culver. “On one hand, it has nothing to do with our season goals. It signifi es a sign of respect that we’ve earned from what we’ve done in the past. For that, we should be thankful and feel fortunate to receive them.”
To Culver, repeating achievements from the 2013- 14 season isn’t good enough.
“We’re looking to stay hungry,” said Culver. “We’re happy with some things we did last year but we finished in second place and I don’t know too many people that play for second place. We’ve got that taste of some success and I hope that keeps us wanting more.”
The first game of the season is Nov. 14 when UCCS will take on Arkansas-Fort Smith in Denver at 5 p.m. The fi rst home game is Nov. 21 against Northern New Mexico at 7:30 p.m. in the Gallogly Events Center.
Look for continuing men’s basketball coverage in The Scribe.