With practices underway and the Pride's season opener at Wheaton just around the corner, Regis (Mass.) men's basketball coach Nate Hager sat down with Regis sports information to preview the team's upcoming season. Coach Hager touched on his expectations on the team's first season in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference, players to watch and his keys to a successful 2017-18 campaign.
Q: With the move to the GNAC, what are you most excited about?
A: The majority of our league opponents are in close proximity to campus, so I am extremely excited to foster some great rivalries for years to come.
Q: The team has had some ups and downs during your time in the NECC, now that you're in the GNAC what do you expect out of this year's team and the program going forward?
A: The NECC was a very competitive league in men's hoops the last six years. Getting to five out of six semifinal games, two championship games and winning one championship was a great experience. This year and going forward in the GNAC, we hope to play well enough to have those same opportunities to compete at a championship level and play meaningful games come February and March.
Q: Talk about some of the effects the GNAC will have on the program, for example recruiting, scheduling and competition level.
A: The GNAC will provide us with some great opportunities to play local and build some memorable rivalries. It will be a big selling point to recruits to play in and around Boston while missing very little class time due to travel. Also, playing 16 league games will allow us to schedule tough non-conference competition both in and out of the region. We are very excited.
Q: Who are your key returners and incoming impact guys?
A: Senior Jawaun Lewis is poised for a big final campaign. The 6-7 post player from Duval County, Fla., is capable of dominating the paint both on offense and defense. When he finishes around the rim and rebounds to his ability, the Pride has a big-time anchor in the middle. Juniors Ademola Afonja from Staten Island and Jordan Seldon from Boston are both physical presences at their respective positions. Both are capable scorers, but more importantly have improved on the defensive end and are capable leaders. I have a feeling they will bring the fans to their feet on more than one occasion this year. Sophomore Dimitri Rosa from Rhode Island is another player who looks to have improved from last year's campaign. Other sophomores ready to contribute are Florida natives Josh Germain, Dexter Jeanty and Shaun Wingfield as well as Justin Trawick. Potential impact newcomers include Tim Broom out of Jacksonville, Fla., Roger Hamel from Huntington Beach, Calif., and Shawn Wedderburn from the Bronx. Each guy brings a little something different to the mix and we'll see if they are able to gel with the core returners. Other newcomers who can make an impact are freshmen Juvens Dalger (Oakland Park, Fla.), Josh Pressley (Springfield, Mass.), Devante Thompson (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), Marc Trinidad (Bronx, N.Y.), and Jalil Wilkerson (New Haven, Conn.).
Q: Name some notable games on this year's schedule.
A: We've never beaten Wheaton and it's our first game, so that is on there for sure. Other than that, both tournaments we play in (Babson and Trinity) will prepare us to play in the postseason and obviously each and every GNAC game is so important. League games are on such a different level from everything else.
Q: What are the keys to having a successful season?
A: Building and sustaining a culture of getting better each practice will be the biggest key. It will be important for us to make progress as a team each time out. The next key is the attention to the ever dreaded "little things". This will determine if we reach our potential or not. And lastly, what will our response be when things go wrong? How good of a teammate will we be when there is adversity? If we take care of these, we'll have a shot at a successful season.
#RegisMBB | #RoarPride