Men’s basketball team sets sights on Patriot League Championship, Steak n’ Egg

The team's scheduled game against Loyola was postponed

Men’s basketball team sets sights on Patriot League Championship, Steak n’ Egg

Jamir Harris (#4) and Mark Gasperini (#23) during a home game against Howard University on Nov. 26

The members of the American University men’s basketball team describe themselves as a brotherhood. A group striving for a goal greater than themselves this season. 

In a series of interviews with returning players Josh Alexander, Stacey Beckton Jr., Jamir Harris, Ben Lubarsky, and Connor Nelson, the five discussed their bond and expectations for the upcoming season, revealing shared ideas, goals and even tastes. 

When asked about their preferred nighttime restaurant destination, Steak n’ Egg was a unanimous answer. But that’s just a glimpse into their camaraderie.

All five players interviewed also agreed that head coach Mike Brennan was the loudest coach in practice, that Loyola and Bucknell were the teams to beat this year, and that Beckton Jr. is the most athletic player on the team as well as a stoic master of comedy.

“He seems like a quiet dude,” Harris said. “But if he knows you, every time he says something it’s really funny.”

There’s bound to be some disagreement, even with a close-knit group like this one. Four out of the five agreed that LeBron James is better than Michael Jordan, with Nelson as the lone dissenter. 

The five returners concluded that, on the court, Jamir Harris is the lifeblood of the team. For his part, Harris also sees himself as a willing leader and takes it upon himself to lift up his teammates.

“I care so much more about the confidence of my teammates and that their belief in themselves is at a high level,” Harris said. “If we have a bunch of individuals on a team that believes in themselves together, that can be something special.” 

However, Harris can’t do everything by himself, and in certain situations, he will need one of his teammates to have his back. Whether it’s on the court or in a post-apocalyptic setting, newcomer Christian Lorng is the consensus pick. 

“I am jumping on Christian Lorng’s back,” Lubarsky said when asked who he believed would survive an apocalypse scenario. 

The five agreed on almost every question posed to them. But that should not come as a shock. The team has shared countless games, practices and road trips together, and their unity on and off the court will be crucial in this upcoming season.

The Eagles lost three crucial players from the previous year’s roster and added seven newcomers. While the returners say the new players have quickly adjusted to the team’s culture, nothing could adjust them for what they’re going to face this season.

The 2020-21 college basketball season is already one of the strangest in NCAA history due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Despite the pandemic and roster turnover, this group has stayed together, and members of the AU men’s basketball team are committed to one goal: winning the Patriot League Championship for the first time since 2014. For Harris, the time has come to win it again.

Last season, the team finished above .500 for the first time in four years with all-time leading AU scorer Sa’eed Nelson leading the way before falling in the Patriot League Quarterfinals

Harris is looking for a different outcome this season.

“Hopefully, God-willing, we’ll have the rest of the season and have the tournament,” Harris said. “But for me, the goal is to win the Patriot League and get an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.” 

bmorse@theeagleonline.com

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