Discover more from Blue & Gold Media at Mississippi College
Men’s Basketball off to Hot Start
The Choctaws are off to a fast start sitting at 6-1 overall and 3-1 in Gulf South play.
In just his second year at the helm, Choctaw basketball coach Randy Bolden has his team off to a hot start. Currently sitting at 6-1, and boasting a four-game winning streak the Choctaws have gathered some early recognition, and are ranked tenth in the south region by the D2SIDA media poll. However, Coach Bolden is not allowing that to be a distraction to his team.
“I don’t put a lot of stock into pre-season polls…as a coach, I’m trying to let them know we’re focused on postseason(rankings), that’s the thing that matters.”
This early success is a good sign for a program that struggled throughout the 2021-22 season as injuries severely limited their depth. Due to that lack of depth, they missed out on any postseason play and finished the year just 7-19 overall with a 5-15 mark in Gulf South Conference play. At one point during conference play, the injuries piled up so much that Bolden only had eight players available for multiple games at a time. According to Bolden, addressing that was key to their offseason plans.
“We knew going into this year that we wanted to focus on getting depth, and I think we went out and got depth at each position, and early on that has been the key, our bench players have been playing extremely well, and that's why we’ve been successful thus far.”
Another key to the Choctaw’s success early in this season has been a dynamic offense that is currently best in the GSC, led by some key returners from last year's team. They are led in scoring by two returners, Galen Smith and Tradavis Thompson who are both averaging 17.4 points per game. Thompson, who was one of those key injuries last season, is also among the best shooters in the GSC as he is shooting .514 from three.
Miles Miller has also been among the most important returning players on the team and has arguably been the most important part of their offensive success. As the starting point guard, he currently leads the nation in assists per game, averaging 7.9 per contest. Miller came to MC last season as a shooting guard, but took over point guard duties due to injuries and never looked back.
“He’s embraced that point guard role, and I think he's doing really well,” said Bolden. “He's done a good job of not only being an assist leader for us but being a vocal leader and just being a leader on the floor.”
This offensive ability has put the Choctaws near or at the top of the conference in a variety of statistical categories, as they are second in the GSC in shooting percentage, three-point percentage, and rebounding. And they are, of course, leading the conference in assists.
The Choctaws needed every ounce of their offensive firepower Monday night, as they came away with a thrilling double-overtime win over Valdosta State. In their 106-101 win, the Choctaws were led once again by the trio of Thompson, Smith, and Miller as Smith dominated down low on his way to 29 points and 8 rebounds. Meanwhile, Thompson stayed hot scoring the ball putting up 20 points, and grabbing 7 rebounds, and Miller came up just shy of a triple-double with 13 points, 11 assists, and 7 rebounds. The performance did not go unnoticed by the Mississippi College student section either.
“To speak about our crowd and our students, it was unbelievable,” said Bolden. “I remember at halftime, I told the guys if y’all don’t fight for these guys out there the way they’re cheering for you, something has got to be wrong.”
The Choctaws will look to continue the early success on the road this weekend, as they face off against Montevallo Friday, December 2 at 7:30 PM, and against Auburn Montgomery on Sunday, December 4 at 4:00 PM. They will return home on Friday, December 9 for a game against West Alabama.
Thanks for reading Blue & Gold Media | The Student Voice of Mississippi College! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.