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After Tough Season, Men’s Basketball Sees Brighter Future

With a 79-70 loss to the Becker College Hawks on Saturday, February 22nd, Lesley University’s men’s basketball team lost their twenty fourth straight game and finished the 2019-2020 regular season winless (0-24) for the first time in the program’s history. This final game was one of the more closely contested ones for the Lynx this season:  while Becker did lead most of the way, the team played some hard and determined basketball, to stay in this one and not go out without a fight.

Junior year forward Kyle Murphy led the way for Lesley this time around, scoring a personal season high of 18 points on 55% shooting from the field (5 of 9). He also grabbed a solid 7 rebounds in his 34 minutes on the floor. His regular season averages ended up tallying out to about 6.5 points per game with 4.3 rebounds, which is pretty solid considering it was his first year with the team.

On senior day, fourth year point guard Treyvon Trent scored 17 of his own points to go along with 3 assists, and 2 rebounds in his final game as a member of the Lynx. He managed to garner most of his points from deep, knocking down 5 threes on the night. He finishes his final year for Lesley University averaging 10.5 points with 3.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists.

Perhaps the most consistent and impactful player for Lesley this season, also had a solid outing in this year’s final game. Junior forward Chase Howard scored 13 points as a result of hitting 50% of his shots (4-8). In addition, he also led the team in assists dishing out 6 in total. The 6’5” junior will head into his senior season off a career year, in which he averaged personal college career highs in points (17.6 per game), assists (2.3 per game), and rebounds (4.4 per game). The 17.6 points per game was just under 4 points shy of the school’s all-time single season record (currently held by Toby Brittian back in 2006 in which he averaged 21.5 points a night). Howard also shot a more than impressive 49% from the field in a season where he started all 24 games.

While Howard did have one of the more impressive overall seasons for Lesley, fellow junior forward Kostas Tatsis’ season was not too shabby either. He averaged a near double-double for the Lynx in his first year on the team after transferring from the Rochester Institute of Technology. Coming originally from Athens, Greece, the 6’5” big man averaged 12.2 points in 23 outings, with 9 rebounds a game in the same amount of time. In their final matchup, he scored 8 points with a team-high 10 rebounds.

Also celebrated on senior day was Aaron Whitman, who had 10 points and 6 rebounds on a night where he saw 40 minutes on the floor. The graduate student finished his college basketball playing career on a good note, averaging 9.1 points per game with 5.8 rebounds and a field goal percentage of 55.6% in 13 games.

On the opposite side of the ball, the Becker College Hawks had a strong starting five that gave the Lynx more than enough trouble. On a team with no seniors, junior big men Mateus Ribeiro and Jamir Carr had excellent nights on both the backboards and the scoreboards. Out of Brazil, Ribeiro has 18 points on a less than desirable 31.2% shooting percentage to go with his 7 rebounds. While he did not shoot as well from the field, Riberio did get to the free throw line quite often for the Hawks as he earned 9 attempts at the line and hit 7 of them. Alongside him was Carr, who had 13 points and an identical 7 rebounds. While lesser or equal to Riberio in these areas, he did shoot a much better 62.5% on the night hitting 5 of his 8 attempts. The sophomore duo of Mekhi Chester (14 pts, 3 rebs) and Jordan Rose-Wheatley (15 pts, 2 rebs) also had a strong scoring night in the backcourt, in which they combined for 29 of the Hawks’ game winning total of 79 points.

While this season may have not worked out as well as the Lynx may have hoped back in the Fall, I certainly think there is a lot of promise the team can look forward to.  Head coach Devon Mayo agrees. A former member of the Lesley basketball team himself, this was Coach Mayo’s second year as the team’s head coach. When asked what some of the bright spots of this challenging season were, Mayo emphasized the values of trust and family that they had prioritized in the locker room.

“Throughout this season that was full of adversity, everyone stayed together through it all. Although it may not have shown in the results, we had a team full of great teammates and we took pride in being great teammates all of the time and not only when things were going well for us. Quitting throughout all of the challenges we faced this year would’ve been the easy thing to do,” Mayo admitted, “but we had a group of guys that bought into us as a coaching staff and decided to face these challenges together. Our program is based off of being a family and building relationships that will last a lifetime. Moving forward, we will continue to take pride in fighting with and for each other and we will continue to build the best system that fits the players here.”

So, while they will certainly miss the veteran leadership of Treyvon Trent and Aaron Whitman, this extremely young roster has a very big opportunity for development in the next few years should everyone continue to play for the team. Upperclassmen such as Howard, Tatsis, and Murphy will only improve in their senior year for the Lynx, as they have done every season of their college careers. With the rest of the team being made up of current freshman and sophomores, they will all certainly get more playing time on the floor than they have seen thus far at Lesley, which will allow them to develop into a much deeper and more experienced team moving forward. When asked what the ceiling was for this group of guys, Coach Mayo not only predicted major improvement for next season, but for the basketball program as a whole for years to come saying:

“Some may call me young and dumb,” the coach told me, “but I like to call it ambition. I honestly believe we will win the conference playoffs next year because we have guys who have learned how difficult it is to win and are willing to put the work into improving their skill sets to get us there.  Mayo predicted that next year, “I believe Lesley will begin to see consistent success within their basketball program. We will continue to build this program and we will do everything we can to get it where we want it to be.”

Whether you are an avid fan, a dedicated player, or a hard working coach, this is the type of thing you want to hear. It seems like Coach Mayo and his guys are ready to brush this season off and focus on something bigger and better in the not too distant future. I don’t think many people on the outside understand how much hard work it is to be in a program like this at any level; but to do so in the face of the very adversity Mayo was talking about and not give up is commendable.  For that reason, I am excited about where this team is going next year, as they bounce back stronger and more determined. As was once said by one of the greatest basketball players in the history of the game:  “Once you know what failure feels like, determination chases success.” – Kobe Bryant (1978 – 2020)

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