Last season, the Mercer men’s basketball team had 19 wins and 15 losses. This was an improvement over the previous year with 15 wins and 17 losses. The Bears look to further expand their success into this coming season.
The annual Orange and White game will be the first test of their preparedness for the season.
Head Coach Bob Hoffman said he has high expectations for not just the returning players but also the new Bears joining the team this season.
“It’s the first time they’re going to have uniforms on before the beginning of the season; we’ve got a bunch of new guys. So, the opportunity to hear the band and the referees, popcorn popping, all that good stuff. It’s completely different from a scrimmage,” he said.
None of the seven players returning this season were top five in points per game last season.
Junior Ross Cummings will be stepping into a bigger role after leading Mercer in scoring on several occasions, including in points per game toward the end of the season. He also led the team in three-pointers made for last season.
Mercer has had plenty of closed scrimmages beforehand, but none compare to the power of the Orange and White Scrimmage.
“Being out on the floor with uniforms on is a little different,” Hoffman said, “Mainly being on the floor, getting the ball in your hands, and experiencing live action with this crowd in this building will be huge for us.”
The Bears are looking to return to the NCAA tournament in March, having last been there in 2014 where they pulled off a stunning win over Duke 78-71. Mercer couldn’t edge past Tennessee in the third round that year, but they are looking to push past that barrier.
“Always, the expectation is win a conference championship and get to the NCAA tournament,” Hoffman said, “We just need to try and stay healthy and get better every game and come out on the floor and practice.”
With a great student turnout and some hard work, the Bears will be poised to make that run.
“We’d love to have a great student turnout. You know, we’ve been blessed over the years,” Hoffman said. ”