The Grambling State University basketball team is looking forward to having a successful season next year.
Over the summer, the team has been on Grambling’s campus, conducting weight training and practices for preseason workouts. This dedication, even in the early part of the offseason is what the Tigers believe can help propel them towards greatness in the 2019-20 season.
Last year GSU’s men’s basketball team went 10-8 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference,
which placed them in third spot in the conference. Although they showed many successful flashes throughout the season, the team is not satisfied with last year’s performance.
Going into the 2019-20 season, the Tigers want to become a dominant force in the conference in pursuit to win a championship.
Senior A.J. Gaston, a Virginia native and the team’s starting shooting guard, believes that team building and creating team chemistry should be a major focus for the team in strides to being successful.
With this mindset, he enjoys taking his summers to work out and become better.
“I feel like you gain more confidence while working out in the summer,” Gaston said. “These workouts also help us build better chemistry which will pay off once the season approaches.”
Gaston believes that the summer is when players should take the extra time to perfect their craft while also working on weak points.
Gaston does not look for personal recognition in his play, but instead wants to do whatever is best for his team.
“I just want to win. That comes with me doing whatever my coaches and teammates need me to do,” Gaston said.
This ‘team first’ mindset is contagious throughout the Tiger Basketball team and is what Gaston feels like will lead them to having a great season.
Ivy Smith Jr., a senior from Tacoma Wash., also believes the summer is a special time for players.
Smith, the team’s starting point guard, has taken the summertime to reflect on whatever flaws became evident on the team’s play last season.
“I feel like the summer and offseason is almost the most important part of being an athlete,” Smith said. “I gain a lot from summer because I intentionally work on the things I lacked last season.”
Players said the summer workouts have provided the basketball team with the time to understand each other so they can gel better as a team.
As the team’s point guard, Smith believes he must work especially hard to make sure the team flows well.
“My individual goal is to become a better leader for the team,” Smith said. “I need to specifically improve on taking care of the ball and causing less turnovers. If I can do this, our team can play with better chemistry and with less selfishness.”
In the end, Smith’s ultimate goal for the team is to become SWAC Champions at the end of the season.
“That’s our goal as a team, everyone wants to win, and that dedication and will to win starts now, in the summer,” Smith said.