The FSW Men’s Basketball team ranks in the top 10 in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division I preseason poll and the Bucs hope to prove they are worth the top spot as they open the season on Wednesday.
Eric Murphy knows what it’s like to build a basketball program.
First as an assistant and now as head coach, Murphy’s turned FSW into a perennial winner that’s sent multiple players to power five schools and one to the NBA.
Keon Ellis played for the Sacramento Kings last season
“We just build upon that each and every year and I think that’s why we continue to keep having good seasons,” Murphy said.
The Buccaneers have won at least 20 games in all but one of its seven seasons.
Now, just ahead of season eight, FSW is ranked eighth in the NJCAA DI preseason poll.
Impressive, but not impressive enough for sophomore guard and Oregon commit Dezdrick Lindsay.
“We’re still the underdogs,” Lindsay said. “There’s always room to get better.”
The Bucs are confident they will get better.
Six guys return from last year’s team that went 20-9, including Lindsay and sophomore point guard Jaehshon thomas.
Thomas told me this current club has been getting after it since the start of summer.
“We have a lot of leaders on the floor and most of the returners are playing a lot,” Thomas said. “That means we have a lot of chemistry. We can play together so things will just be that much easier.”
FSW is one of four Florida junior colleges to be ranked in the preseason poll.
Northwest Florida State is number one right now, but the Bucs are focused on taking over.
“We have to play to our abilities,” Murphy said. “I think that’s something that we haven’t always done. I think with the maturity on this team and with having six guys coming back, I think that we should be able to play and not have as many let downs as we’ve had in previous years.”
Thomas told me what he thinks the team needs to do to avoid those let downs.
“Just being tougher, getting rebounds, and doing the little things,” Thomas said. “We already have the chemistry. We have the skill and talent. It’s just all the little things that we’re still trying to figure out.”
Lindsay echoed his teammate saying chemistry is key.
“We made a bond because we were here like all summer so I feel like we made good chemistry,” Lindsay said.
Murphy told me he’s still figuring out all the challenges the team will need to overcome, but Thomas said a home court advantage would be huge.
“Everybody come out to the games,” Murphy said.
The Bucs’ campaign to rise in the rankings begins Wednesday night when FSW hosts Mont Academy in Suncoast Credit Union Arena at 7 p.m.