The UChicago basketball team kicks off its season Tuesday by hosting North Park University. The Maroons are looking for an encore to last year’s impressive year, which saw them go 17–8, set a school record with a 13-game winning streak, and just narrowly miss out on making the NCAA tournament.
The squad will be looking to establish a new identity after losing six fourth-years last season, including starters Nate Brooks, Alex Voss, and Jordan Smith. However, third-year forward Ryan Shearmire is not worried about any of the new faces that are joining the group.
“The chemistry for this year’s squad is great,” an enthusiastic Shearmire said. “We graduated high-character guys from last year, but the new guys have stepped into their roles and the freshmen coming in have been great. I would say [this] team’s chemistry is definitely one of our strengths.”
The team will surely rely on fourth-year leaders like guard Tyler Howard and forward Waller Perez to lead both in the locker room and on the court. Younger players will also have more expected out of them as they shoulder a much greater responsibility than last year. Some incoming first-years may even be asked to contribute right off the bat.
The team has bolstered its backcourt with its freshman class, adding four guards to the team. These additions will likely help with Chicago’s run-and-gun style offense, as last year’s squad was often defined by its lightening fast transition game. While the Maroons have never been a huge team, this year’s group only contains four players six-foot-six or taller, so speed and shooting will certainly be the name of the game. With ball and player movement the priority, the team’s success will likely come down to communication.
The Maroons are definitely looking to get off on the right foot Tuesday, and how the group communicates will definitely be a key indicator of how it is doing.
“We will absolutely be looking at our communication,” Shearmire said. “If we are communicating well on defense and playing team basketball on both ends of the floor, we will surely be clicking.”
As for Chicago’s opponent, North Park is hoping for a repeat of last year’s season opener, when the Vikings hosted and beat Chicago 72–66, while the South Siders are undoubtedly seeking revenge. North Park ended up finishing the season 14–11, so they are not to be taken lightly this time around either.
Expectations are high for the Maroons after last year, as a NCAA tournament berth is where the bar is set. However, armed with dependable returning veterans and a host of fresh new faces, the team will be looking to not only make the tournament but also to make a deep postseason run.
UChicago will face North Park on Tuesday, November 15 at the Ratner Athletics Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.