The University’s men’s basketball team is in the midst of a historic season as a Jan. 25 win against Drew University brought coach Carl Danzig his 300th career win.
Since that milestone victory, the Royals have gone 4-1 with their latest victory coming from a dominant 82-68 triumph over Drew University.
Playing for a team that helped a coach achieve such an accomplishment is no small feat, and the players, along with Coach Danzig are thrilled.
Senior forward and co-captain John Vitkus reflected on what it has been like to play for coach Danzig for four years and how special this season in particular has been.
“Being a part of coach Danzig’s 300th career win was a great experience. He has always pushed every player to get our maximum effort and I know he’ll continue to do that through the rest of his career and win many more,” Vitkus said.
The second victory over Drew also served to clinch the Royals a playoff spot in the Landmark Conference. Since joining the Landmark Conference in 2007, the team has now made a playoff appearance for 10 seasons straight.
So as the regular season now nears its end, the Royals must shift into playoff mentality and focus on fine tuning all the skills they have put work into all season long.
In order to shift into playoff mentality, the Royals feel that there is very little the team must change in order to continue their success. As Vitkus noted, the team is generally very happy with the position it has placed itself in heading into the postseason.
“Right now I’m very happy with where we are at as a team,” Vitkus said. “The only thing I think we need to improve on is our ability to close out games. We have to continue to extend our lead late in the game and not to coast on any lead we’ve built,” Vitkus said.
As Vitkus also noted, the Royals set a very specific goal for themselves at the beginning of the season, and will not stop giving it their all until they accomplish it.
“From the beginning of the season all 14 players have been focused on getting to the Landmark Conference and winning a championship,” Vitkus said. “We know what we have to do to get there and all of us believe we have the right components to win this year.”
As for what those components are, Vitkus observed that the Royals strengths are spread across the board, present in all aspects of the game.
“Our greatest strengths this season have been our ball movement on offense and our commitment to playing aggressive defense. Our team has been very unselfish this season, often times passing up good shots to get better shots. On the defensive end we really bring a lot of energy and make teams uncomfortable on offense,” Vitkus said.
With its current 18-6 record, the team feels confident heading into playoffs. They Royals will play their last regular season game against the Goucher College Gophers as they look for revenge after losing 81-73 to the Gophers back in January.
The Royals are back in action Saturday Feb. 18 at 3 p.m.