They may be young, but they are not intimidated. This season, the Colorado College men’s basketball team has welcomed 11 first-year players to their returning squad of six upperclassmen.
The new team members have fit right in, helping the Tigers to a 4—4 record. Everyone on the team has played in at least one of their eight games.
“Every player has a role on the team, which is what makes this team so unique,” guard Aaron Acosta ’22 said. “Even though it’s a pretty new and young team, we all still rely on each other.”
The Tigers were expected to start the season slowly as they searched for their new identity, but the team came together quickly, opening the season Nov. 16 with an 81—68 win over Iowa Wesleyan University in Reid Arena in the 2018 Tiger Tip-Off Tournament.
“Overall we have had a very promising start,” guard Edmund Pendleton ’19 said. “I think it is something for us to build off, giving us confidence moving to the meat of our season and conference games.”
The team ended their opening tournament with a 1—1 record, losing the second game to the University of Wisconsin at River Falls 104—68. The Tigers went 1—1 in the 2018 Rocky Mountain Thanksgiving Classic, defeating the University of Texas at Tyler 77—70 and falling to George Fox University 78—73.
“Those non-conference games are a good chance for us to really start to develop chemistry and understand what we need to work on and what we’re good at,” Pendleton said. “We took a lot away from those two games.”
The Tigers continued to improve, winning two of their next three games. They lost to University of Colorado Colorado Springs 106—64 but defeated Whittier College 101—82 and University of California Santa Cruz 69—65.
Forward CooXooEii Black ’20 scored a career high 33 points against Whittier, bringing him to a total of 150 points so far this season. Black also leads the team in minutes played with over 200, and Acosta is second, with more than 150 minutes in eight games. Black’s play in this stretch, including 25 points in the loss to University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, earned him the SCAC player of the week Dec. 3. It is his second career player of the week award.
“We have exceeded our expectations in the way that we are playing together,” Acosta said. “Our games are so similar that we were able to play with each other pretty effectively and efficiently. That caught me by surprise, how quickly we were able to pick up on each other.”
The Tigers fell to conference foe Johnson & Wales University 84—60 Dec. 4 in Reid Arena. Black led the team with 17 points and nine rebounds. This was their last home game for almost a month.
“I’m pretty excited to travel a lot,” Acosta said. “Going to different states to play other teams is a totally new experience for most of the team.”
The Tigers are going on a road trip for the first time this season, playing Nebraska Wesleyan in Lincoln, Nebraska on Saturday and Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa on Sunday. The Tigers will play two SCAC games in Texas against Southwestern University and University of Dallas Dec. 15—16 before returning home Dec. 29 to host four games over Winter Break.