by Drew Giudice
The 2013-2014 Millsaps men’s basketball team will look to build on last year’s appearance in the semifinals of the inaugural Southern Athletic Association tournament.
An expected strength of this year’s squad, as noted by senior forward Tully Gilligan, will be their ability to defend. Gilligan commented, “We have the athletes at every position to pressure teams and create turnovers.” Valuing possessions and getting quality shot attempts are other expected assets. Gilligan, Murray Kastner and Dustin Aubert all have collegiate experience at the point guard position. The three are expected to be playmakers and create open shots for their teammates. The Majors must improve their ability to rebound the basketball. They were second-to-last in the SAA last season in rebounding margin.
The Majors return veteran talent. Seniors Gilligan, Kastner and Ryan Berger are returning starters who will be counted on to lead the underclassmen. Head Coach Tim Wise notes, “The success of the team this year will depend greatly on how well those three lead, as well as the underclassmen progressing over the course of the season.”
Gilligan is the most versatile player in the conference, having played all five positions on the floor throughout his career. The Ocala, Fla., native filled up box scores in his junior season with per game averages of 9.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 5.3 assists. Kastner flourished in a breakout junior year, shooting 42 percent from behind the three-point arc and averaging 10 points per game. The team will rely heavily on his scoring ability again this year. Berger, although undersized in the post, will be counted on for his tremendous rebounding capability.
The trio is eager to lead the program in the right direction before their careers in Major uniforms come to an end. “One More Step” has become the adage among the team. When asked what it meant to him, Berger said, “When we face adversity, the mentality of ‘one more step’ will push us towards success.” The Majors open up at home Nov. 15 and 16.