The entire USA South conference was warned this last weekend of a brutally tough opponent for the 2015-2016 basketball season. When Covenant traveled to face the Liberty Flames in Lynchburg, Virginia, most expected that the Division 1 foe would easily handle the Scots as Liberty began to prepare for their season with relative ease. The Scots had different plans.
After taking the lead into the locker room at halftime, Covenant executed brilliantly for most of the second half and lost a nail-biter 64-62, but gained lots of confidence and an understanding that they could play with any team on any given night. This confidence was carried into Saturday’s contest with Emory and Henry, as the Scots started their regular season schedule with a win.
Most avid Scots fans will come into the 2015-2016 basketball season with a plethora of questions about the correct expectations for this year’s team. After a groundbreaking 2012-2013 season, Covenant has struggled to win consistently the last two seasons. However, momentum seemed to be gained at the end of last season and into the USA South tournament, as Covenant would eventually see their season end at the hands of number 1 seed Averett, 67-61.
The momentum gained at the end of last season was accelerated with the additions of sophomore transfers Patjo Twagirayezu and Berto Dryden. These two players have bolstered the starting lineup and provided much needed quickness, shooting, and scoring ability to complement the rest of the team.
The thing that stands out most about this group is the depth at every position. With capable guys coming off the bench, Coach Taylor can breathe easy when his starters earn a much-needed rest. Senior standout TJ Cox explained this depth by saying, “All 15 guys on our team carry unique aspects that can contribute on the court and that’s something we haven’t always had here.”
The starting lineup seems to have been somewhat solidified after two exhibitions and the first regular season game, as TJ Cox, Will Portlock, Berto Dryden, Patjo Twagirayezu, and Chris Boyd have started each game so far. Cox, Portlock, and Dryden have been staples in the lineup over the past few years for the Scots, and will offer experience and leadership for the team, as they get into the meat of their schedule.
Boyd oftentimes guards the opposing team’s biggest player and is the focal point of Covenant’s defensive attack, and Cox has proven his ability as a playmaker and floor general for the Scots. Junior guard Will Portlock has shown vast improvement in both confidence and skill in his first two seasons as a Scot and has already shown more development in his game early on as he dazzled in the first half of the UTC exhibition game. Look for seniors Daniel Garrett, Matt Den Dulk, and Micah Turner to also make a great impact off the bench for the Scots throughout the season.
A key for the success of this season will be launching into a strong start in non-conference play. Piling up wins versus quality opponents from around the area such as Oglethorpe, Emory, Sewanee, and Berry will give the Scots the confidence they need to contend for the conference title. The final key for success will be you, the fans! We need Barnes Physical Education Center to be loud and to serve as a true home-court advantage for our guys. So come out and be loud. Go Scots!