Men’s basketball gains momentum from Daytona Beach tournament

W&L’s men’s basketball comes back with 4-2 record after Daytona Beach tournament over Christmas break

Elly Cosgrove

The Washington and Lee men’s basketball team let off some steam after finals in Daytona Beach, which also marked the beginning of their four-game win streak.

After a hard week filled with intense studying, late nights and college finals, the basketball team traveled 10 hours to play in the Daytona Beach Shootout. Head Coach Adam Hutchinson said the trip benefited the team as a whole after such a rigorous week.

“I think certainly walking out of finals and you know you’re walking on a beach 36 hours later in the sun promotes goodwill among teammates,” said Hutchinson.

Not only did sunshine and long stretches of beach promote “goodwill,” but so did the trip as a whole.

“You take a trip down in a bus together for any length of time and it brings you closer together, Hutchinson said. “Whenever [they] have some downtime in the hotel, the players have conversations they may not have otherwise.”

Guard Alex Starr, ’19, said that the team has always been very close, but the trip helped them bond even more.

This is only the second time the men’s basketball team has attended this tournament that takes place over winter break. Hutchinson had nothing but good things to say about competing in the Daytona Beach Shootout and hopes to attend it more often in the future.

“It’s a really good event,” Hutchinson said. “The facilities are good [and] the location is great.”

When the team was not hanging out on the beach or in their oceanfront hotel, they were competing in the Ocean Center. The Generals played two contests against 17th ranked Wesleyan from Connecticut and King’s College from Pennsylvania.

The Generals fell to Wesleyan in the final minutes of the game. Although Hutchinson thought that the team put themselves in a position to win, there were still some things that they could have done differently down the stretch that may have changed the outcome.

The Generals made some defensive changes at the Daytona Beach tournament that has contributed to their success ever since. Starting with their win against King’s College, there has only been one team to shoot over 40% against the improved defense, Hutchinson said.

“The tournament went well because we established some things on defense that we hadn’t been able to do earlier in the season,” said Starr on the new defense.

After beating King’s college, the team captured wins against Eastern, St. Mary’s and Shenandoah. However, the Generals’ game against Virginia Wesleyan marked the end of their win streak.

According to Hutchinson, turnovers were a major factor that led to their loss against Virginia Wesleyan. During the General’s four- game win streak, the team was averaging about 12 turnovers a game, according to Hutchinson. Against Virginia Wesleyan, however, the team had 19.

“If we have the opportunity to play them again, it’s something to learn from,” said Hutchinson.

Moving forward, the team has emphasized the importance of not turning the ball over in the practice gym. This is a point of emphasis that Hutchinson impresses upon the team year around.

Several of the men’s basketball team’s top players have taken on a large scoring role and have been playing like top players in the ODAC, according to Starr. Forward Clayton Murtha, ’18, has continuously been a top scorer for the Generals over the course of this season. Hutchinson says that Murtha “has a knack” for scoring.

Murtha is currently the top scorer for the Generals and averages about 17 points per game. According to Hutchinson, Murtha has faced weekly pressure ever since the middle of his freshman year because he’s so essential to the team.

If you’d like to go out and support the men’s basketball team, the next home contest for the Generals is Jan. 25 at 7:00 p.m. against Bridgewater.