WINTER SPORTS PREVIEW: Senior talent should produce wins for MSAEPioneers have confidence coming into the season
Head Coach: Christian Hoffman, 1st year
Key Returnees: Surya Sawhney (Sr.), Rashan Anderson (Sr.), Avery Mulleneaux (Sr.), Suraj Pulllapantula (Sr.)
Outlook: The Pioneers have a veteran team that has played together before. Preseason success has MSAE believing that this is their year to make some noise in the SEISC South.
There’s a different attitude emanating from the Maharishi School for the Age of Enlightenment basketball team this winter.
This team, unlike many of its predecessors, has confidence that it can compete with any team on its schedule.
Last season the Pioneers had very few contributing seniors. Their season ended on Feb. 11 when Winfield-Mount Union dismissed them from district play by the score of 63-35. MSAE only managed three wins, and that’s after only winning once the year before. This season, first-year head coach Christian Hoffman thinks, will be a different story.
“I knew some of the kids already from being around in the community,” Hoffman said. “We didn’t really lose any starters from last season. The team is very experienced.”
The starting lineup could very well consist of all seniors. Avery Mullenneaux and Surya Sawhney are both back and leading the team early on.
“They both really love basketball,” Hoffman said. “They want to do whatever it takes to win games.”
Rashan Anderson, who also started last season, is another one of the 11 seniors on the roster. Suraj Pullapantula, who led the Pioneers in three-point shooting last season, has been forced to sit out of preseason practices because of a hyper-extended knee and may not play for most of the year. Pullapantula never played basketball until he was a freshman, yet has still found a way to be one of the best players on the squad.
Hoffman knows it will be a challenge to compete with teams like Danville and Holy Trinity, but he thinks his team can make a statement this year.
“It’s really tough to take over a team that has been losing games,” Hoffman said. “But we competed well in summer league games in Burlington and won a few of them.”
Hoffman will be looking to stretch opposing defenses by increasing the offensive tempo. Players have responded well to Hoffman because the tempo allows them to score more points, which keeps the team’s spirits high.
“We have a few tall players, but for the most part we are athletic,” Hoffman said. “We want to push the ball and score in transition.”
The Pioneers began their work at the North English Jamboree on Monday and will get their first regular season test when they travel Dec. 3 to West Burlington. The schedule doesn’t treat them kindly at the beginning of the season. MSAE’s first four games are on the road.
“They really want to win this season,” Hoffman said. “They have a lot of heart.”
MSAE 2013-14 Schedule: Varsity Basketball
12/3 @ West Burlington
12/6 @ Holy Trinity
12/10 @ Cardinal
12/13 @ Harmony
12/17 vs. Central Lee
12/20 vs. Notre Dame
1/7 @ New London
1/10 @ Van Buren
1/14 vs. West Burlington
1/16 @ Danville
1/17 vs. Holy Trinity
1/21 vs. Cardinal
1/24 vs. Harmony
1/28 @ Central Lee
1/31 @ Notre Dame
2/4 vs. Danville
2/7 vs. New London
2/11 vs. Van Buren
2/14 SEISC Shootout
2/15 @ English Valley