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Titans see growth, eye more wins in Horizon

By AUSTIN LOUKKALA / VN SPORTS EDITOR
On January 24, 2017

The season has not gone as planned so far for the men’s basketball team, who are 4-16 overall and 2-6 in the league after a loss Sunday.

But there have been bright spots. Things started to look up after wins against rival Oakland University and conference foe Youngstown State.

First-year head coach Bacari Alexander says his team is growing as the season progresses.

“Our chemistry is evolving not only towards wins but towards a higher level of connectivity in general,” he said.

The connectivity was evident during the Titans’ recent two-game win streak.

Alexander attributed the team’s success during this streak to a higher level of engagement, starting with the seniors and working its way down to the underclassmen.

The players have started to raise the bar and expect more out of one another, he said.

Throughout this season, multiple players have stepped up.

“There hasn’t been one player that hasn’t stepped up this season,” Alexander said. “One of things that we challenged our guys to do in 2017 was to raise their level.”

With this being Alexander’s first year as head basketball coach, it was expected that the team would experience some growing pains.

“The first challenge is changing the culture,” said Alexander.

Anytime a coach tries to change the culture, he is usually met with resistance.

Alexander said he expected it and does not think of it as a negative, but a natural part of the process.

He has asked his players to step outside their comfort zones to promote growth not only as teammates and athletes but also as students.

This growth was made apparent in what coach Alexander called a “signature win” against Oakland.

The Titans hope to build momentum and collect more signature wins as the season progresses.

In years to come, Alexander said, those signature wins might be at places like Ann Arbor or East Lansing, places where he hopes to take his team.

“We will play Michigan and Michigan State during my tenure,” he said. “Book it.”

As the culture continues to change, Alexander wants for it to translate into wins.

“It’s important for us to make sure we’re competing to ensure that folks remember the Titans,” he said. 

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