Basketball prepares for match-up against Virginia Wesleyan

As the dog days of college basketball approach, the Guilford Men’s basketball team has one important matchup coming up on Feb. 9 against a very tough opponent.

The Virginia Wesleyan Marlins (16–6, 11–2 ODAC) will be coming into this game, second in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference. Guilford (16–6, 8–5 ODAC) is fighting for the fourth place spot in the ODAC.

The Quakers are looking to finish off the regular season well. Hopefully, this will include a victory against Athletic Director and Head Coach Tom Palombo’s alma mater. This win could be a revenge of sorts for the team’s 63–49 loss on Dec. 8 at Virginia Beach. One of the Quakers’ most devastating losses came against the Marlins.

Quaker fans are optimistic about the 2012–13 Quakers, as underlined by senior Vanessa Johnson.

“(This year’s team) has so much potential,” Johnson said. “I expect them to be as good as they were last year.”

She and most other avid fans of the Quakers hope for something good to cheer for as the season comes to a close and the conference tournament gets set in motion.

“After two years of ‘down’ seasons following consecutive final four appearances (in 2009 and 2010), this year’s team shows promise of going into post-season play,” said Campus Ministry Coordinator Max Carter, via email. Carter closely follows Quaker athletics in the years he has been at Guilford and he enjoys watching the various student-athletes that have taken his courses.

“It is also Josh Pittman’s senior year, a player I have followed since he was in 8th grade and who is one of (Guilford’s) all-time greatest players,” said Carter.

Pittman is third in the ODAC with 17.2 per game and second in assists with five per outing. Pittman and three other seniors give the Quakers veteran experience, as they progress through an up-and-down season with thrilling wins and shattering losses.

Virginia Wesleyan is led by senior forward Chris Astorga, an offensive threat who averages 15.9 per game. At a recent game against Emory & Henry, he dropped in 24 in a 86–63 blowout. Three players currently average in the double figures.

Some fans believe that this upcoming game will be among the most important the team will play, with Carter, a Hoosier native, quipping the matchup as a ‘barn-burner.”

However, the team emphasizes the importance of playing their best, one game at a time.

“As a player and senior, we treat each game the same,” said senior guard Travis Tracy via email. “There isn’t a real significant difference in this game compared to the rest. We are just going to go out and play hard and play Guilford College basketball.

“At this point in the season we believe we have a good chance of winning the ODAC tournament. We are taking one game at a time (and) working (on) trying to get better as a team, so we can fulfill our goal of winning the ODAC “championship.”

At this point of the season, the Quakers are looking to place in the top half of the conference, go deep in the ODAC tournament, and hopefully make an appearance in the national tournament.

The game against Virginia Wesleyan will take place on Feb. 9 at Ragan-Brown Field House at 3 p.m.