Men’s basketball team looks to live up to expectations

Junior Carson Long makes a free throw at the Guilford College versus Washington and Lee basketball. Long scored the team-best of 20 points during the game.//Photo by Abigail Bekele/The Guilfordian

Guilford College men’s basketball team is off to a rocky 2-3 start this season. They are ranked first in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference preseason poll. The Quakers are coming off of a season where they won the ODAC Conference title and posted an overall record of 24-6, 13-3 ODAC.

The team has been working hard in the offseason to meet their goals for the season.

“Just workouts, we brought everything we had, always worked hard and that is going to pay off in the season,” said junior forward Marcus Curry.

Junior forward Carson Long wanted the team to start off on the right foot with a victory.

“First game, definitely just a win first and foremost. But a dominating win would be good to set the stage for everybody else in the conference to see that we beat them big. That would be nice,” said Long.

Guilford faced their first opponent of the season on Wednesday Nov. 16, where they beat Greensboro College 98-88. Curry set a career high in the win with 31 points. Long got a double-double with 18 points and a team-high of 12 boards. Guilford headed into the Daly Seven Tip-Off Classic with a 1-0 record as they opened up home play against Concordia.

The regular season for the team is 25 games, and they hope they will make it far in the postseason.

“It is a long season. You want to play your best at the end, so gradually improving everyday is a big key,” said head coach Thomas Palombo in an email interview.

The Quakers blew a 17-point lead on Friday, Nov. 17, falling to Concordia 68-67 in the first day of the Daly Seven Tip-Off Classic. In the loss, sophomore guard PJ Stephens set a career high and led all Quakers in scoring with 14 points. Junior forward Alston Thompson got a double-double with 13 points and 11 boards. Concordia was led by Philip Meikle who had 16 points and 6 rebounds.

“I think we came out strong. We needed to finish it, we need to learn how to finish games and stuff. It is early in the season though, so that is basically how you can chalk it up. Just got to be able to finish games,” said Thompson.

Guilford bounced back on Saturday, Nov. 18, beating Huntington College 90-63 to close out the Daly Seven Tip-Off Classic. The story of the night was Long who posted a new career high of 36 points and added 11 rebounds for his second double-double of the season.

“Last night went well. We started to play Guilford College basketball again,” said Long. “I didn’t really get hot early, I knew something was about to fall, so I just kept shooting and kept shooting. Finally they started to fall. I only made four 3-pointers, and a lot of it was 2-pointers. I’ve been working on trying to get to the free throw line more, and I went six times and made all six free throws.”

Curry had 10 points and 9 rebounds in the win. Additionally, Long and Thompson made the 2017 Daly Seven Tip-Off Classic All Tournament Team.

“I thought we rebounded pretty well in two of the three games. We need to be more efficient on offense. We also need to defend with more purpose and not be undisciplined with how we want to defend. We have to be in better position to guard our opponents,” Palombo said. “Overall, we are making progress. We had a great chance to win on Friday and just came up short. I was pleased with how we responded on Saturday with a great effort.”

The Quakers continued their non-conference schedule against Averett University and were upset 82-69. Averett came out with more energy and hit a barrage of 3-pointers to propel them to victory. Averett shot 60.9 percent from beyond the arc, sinking 14 3-pointers. In the loss, the Quakers were led by Long, who had 20 points.

Guilford has a 2-3 record and will continue ODAC play on Dec. 2 when they visit Bridgewater College.