Alyssa McKenna, Staff Writer
The Utica College men’s basketball team won their past five games to contribute to their overall record of 16-4. Utica has clinched a playoff berth with four games left to go in the season.
“Our success has come from staying the course, sharing the ball, and outworking everyone starting in the preseason,” Senior Hunter Remley said. “Regardless if we were winning or losing, we continued to push each other.”
According to junior player Kobe Lufkin, all of the members of the team are key to the team’s success this season. Every player contributes significantly.
One of the standout players is freshman forward Thomas Morreale from Whitesboro, New York. He was named ECAC Rookie of the Month for January.
In the conference-opener game on Jan. 7, Morreale finished with a game-high 31 points and 13 rebounds in a 82-64 Utica win. This was his second double-double this season. He is averaging 15.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.
“We are a complete team this year with multiple guys who can score the ball and defend on the other hand as well,” Remley said. “Being able to start two freshmen and still be able to have another four-to-five guys come off the bench and contribute is what makes our team so hard to guard. We are very deep.”
Lufkin gives a lot of credit to Kimedrick Murphy, who came off of a career-high 15 points against Elmira College on Feb. 1.
“He has had a huge impact on our team this season and has given us a good core along with all our other pieces,” Lufkin said.
The Pioneers still believe there are things to improve upon. The team continues to watch films and learn from their mistakes in the games so they can improve their overall game.
“We always pride ourselves on defense and sharing the ball,” Remley said. “Every time we watch a film, we are accountable for our mistakes and try to improve for the next game. Either making the extra pass or not getting beat to the rim on the defensive end.”
The team has expectations to win the Empire 8 Championship, which is something that Utica Men’s Basketball has never done in UC’s history.
“Whether we end up hosting the tournament as the first seed or not, we expect to be on top by the end of the season and we will be practicing accordingly,” Remley said. “We are very excited about what the rest of the season brings us.”