Vaughn DiBattista (email@example.com)
Following the cancellation of the 2020-2021 season, the Ursinus Men’s Basketball team is off to a solid start for the 2022 season. The Bears lost some notable names to graduation, including three starters in Bruce Edwards, Lucas Olshevski, and George Gordon, which dropped the Bears to the #5 rank in the Centennial Conference preseason poll. With the odds stacked against them, the Bears accepted the challenge and came ready to play. With their win against Washington College this Monday, the Bears advanced to a 9-6 record, moving them up to #3 in the rankings.
Senior guard Ryan Hughes has been an absolute star this season, averaging a career high 18.6 points per game while also bringing in 6.6 rebounds per game. The guy has all the talent in the world. With his ball-handling ability and decision making, he has maintained a field goal percentage of 50.5%. Not to mention that he can jump out of the gym, boasting 6 blocks this season as a 6’4’’ guard. Above all, Hughes has demonstrated that this team has the drive to win games as a family. All 13 players have bought into making this season as successful as possible. “Everyone on this team has a role, and we all bought into those roles when the season started. We look at ourselves as a family, and nobody is above one another.”
The family aspect of this team has been truly special. The squad is often seen around campus together, spending as much time together as possible. It’s no coincidence that the Bears value family, as they are led by the great Kevin Small. Coach Small is entering his 21st season as the Bears’ head coach, and has been praised by the players for instilling family values into the team. “He’s a mentor to every one of us,” stated Hughes. “He doesn’t just want us to succeed at basketball, he makes sure we all learn lessons as we go through our years here at Ursinus. He’s taught me so much in my four years that not only applies to basketball, but leading in life, how to be a good father, husband, brother, son, and so on.” Small is actively instilling the traits to not only become good basketball players, but to become leaders; something that Ursinus surely doesn’t lack.
With thirteen players on the team, the Bears only have three seniors in Ryan Hughes, Peyton Vosternak, and Matt McMahon. The three seniors have exemplified stellar leadership to their young core, successfully inspiring the ten underclassmen to buy into their vision and expectations. “These guys bought into a program where we work hard everyday and make sure we get better.”
With only three seniors, the Bears’ young core has really shined this season, in no small part due to the rise of sophomore guard, Trevor Wall. The St. Joseph’s Prep product has shined for the Bears as a point guard, posting 13.1 points per game and earning the starting job. “Coming here I really wanted to win and develop as a player, whether that be starting or coming off the bench,” exclaimed Wall. “I am trying to progress game by game and elevate my play to help the team.” While he has showcased elite level scoring, all his abilities aren’t highlighted on the stat sheet. The guard does an outstanding job of running Coach Small’s offense, essentially governing the Bears on the offensive side of the floor. He is a high level communicator, and the sky’s the ceiling for the young man.
The Bears’ future is surely bright as we have also seen stellar play from the likes of sophomore Beau Everett, Freshman Sean Neylon, and many more. “I hope by my senior year we can be the best team we can possibly be,” Wall explained. “We want to be feared around the centennial and hopefully accomplish a centennial championship along with a trip to the NCAA tournament. After all, we all came here to try and win championships.”
With Ursinus’ success this year with their young core in tow, it might be time to make some space in the Floy Lewis trophy cabinet. If you haven’t hopped on the Bears’ bandwagon yet, you better find a seat before it’s too late.