The NBA and college basketball are both the same sports, of course, but there are some differences, and the biggest difference may be how supportive the fans are. Many people, including a lot of students here at Saint Augustine’s University, say there is no competition between the level of support for a student’s favorite NBA team and their own Falcons.
SAU opened the men’s basketball season with an impressive 66-60 victory over Mansfield University in the Trojan Tip-Off Classic in Ettrick, VA, raising hopes about the season.
“When I heard that our basketball team won the first game I was excited,” said Natia Simmons, a senior biology major. “I personally enjoy watching our basketball team. You can definitely look forward to me being in attendance – front seat and center – to support our men’s and woman basketball team. I feel that both the Lady Falcons and men will do exceptionally well this year and hopefully carry home the CIAA tournament win for 2017.”
As the SAU men’s basketball team’s season has progressed, there have been some more highlights. On Nov.18, SAU the defeated Barton College by a score of 73-64 during the Pickle Classic at Kornegay Arena in Mount Olive, NC. Anthony Gaskins, a senior from Greenville, NC, scored 22 points, indicating that playing football in the fall did not slow him down and he will continue to be one of the star players of the team,.
There are several new faces we see on the court this year, raising hopes from students, staff and faculty that this year’s team will be better than ever. The team has seven new players – one freshman and several sophomores and juniors. Some of them are not completely new but were red-shirted last season.
“It’s almost like we have a new team,” said senior mass communications major LaQuasia Jackson.
Andre Stanley, senior from Virginia Beach, Virginia who is a forward for the team in his second season playing, said the new players definitely improve the team. “They all bring something different to help us win and they all buy in to what we’re trying to do,” Stanley said. “I think we have a good enough team to win the division. We finished second last year and, with the talent we added this season with the redshirts, we should be able to win it.”
The team has a new focus this year, he added. “This season we are all in for defense. We believe that, as long as we stay focused and play defense first, we should be able to compete for a CIAA championship”.
Meanwhile, the team’s established stars continue to shine bright. Gaskins poured in a season-high 29 points in a 65-56 men’s college basketball win over Auburn University at Montgomery in Daytona Beach, FL, on Nov. 26. In that same game, Quincy January, a junior from Atlanta, added 19 points.
The day before, Gaskins senior surpassed the 1,000-point career mark in his career in a loss to Embry-Riddle University.
With a record of 3-4, as of Nov. 30, the team is still optimistic.
“In order to achieve accomplishments, one must first accomplish determination,” Gaskins said. “Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try and that’s exactly what I decided to do”