Running in Transition: E&H Men’s Basketball Teams Major Success

Coach Ben Thompson designs a play during the men’s basketball team’s 129 - 44 victory over Appalachian Bible College.

Photo courtesy of Emory & Henry Athletics’ Instagram page.

Coach Ben Thompson designs a play during the men’s basketball team’s 129 – 44 victory over Appalachian Bible College.

Guest Contributor, Jackson Arnold

After only achieving 2 wins and 8 losses in the 2020-2021 season, E&H is currently at a record of 14-5 as of February 3rd, 2022, despite transitioning from the Division III to the Division II level.

Entering his third season as the coach of the men’s team, Ben Thompson attributes their success to greater opportunities and commitment from the team.

“The biggest changes have been that we’ve had more access to our team with the move to D2 and that we haven’t had any stoppages due to Covid. We’ve had tremendous buy-in from all of our guys and their work ethic has gone to a much higher level this season,” said Thompson.

According to Emory & Henry Athletics’ Instagram page, the men’s basketball team ranks 10th within all of Division II basketball in points per game (88.3), 4th in rebound margin (+10.2), and 3rd in offensive rebounds per game (15.9).

Furthermore, according to the South Atlantic Conference website, E&H’s current record would land them 4th in the conference, only behind Queens University, Lincoln Memorial University and Tusculum University.

While many of the team’s opponents have been from the Division II level, Coach Thompson has set up exhibition games with Division I programs such as Radford and Coastal Carolina.

Patrick Antonelli, a sophomore starting guard, said that the team does not change their mindset depending on the opponent.

“We try to keep our mentality the same before playing every opponent, whether it is a Division I school or a smaller school that we should beat. Our coach tells us we need to be a locomotive and just keep on moving no matter what is in front of us. So, we try to just plow through each opponent the exact same way.“

Thompson seconded this idea by stating, “We use a term called “appropriate fear” for every opponent, no matter the level.”

Antonelli hopes to see greater fan support with only seven games left on the schedule.

“I do wish more fans would come out and support. I don’t think they realize how much we appreciate them coming up and supporting us and how much better it makes us as a team,” says Antonelli. “We feed off their energy and it makes us play a lot better.”

This year has been outstanding for the men’s basketball team, especially considering the transition from Division III to Division II. Still, Coach Thompson doesn’t believe that this is all the program has to offer.

“The next steps are continuing to develop individually and as a group. I believe that this team and program have some very bright days ahead of us!”

[SIDEBAR: #TheFamily]

[SIDEBAR: 14 – 5 Record]

[SIDEBAR: “We have an undiscussed trust in one another that helps us keep moving forward. Every single person on the team trusts the other standing right next to them and will fight for them.”]