The Emporia State Men’s basketball team has endured many adversities this past season. With four injured starters, the team has had to work around the challenges to succeed.
Marquis McCray, senior forward, Aaron McGee, senior forward, Brendan Van Dyke, junior forward, and Dallas Bailey, junior forward, are all recovering from their injuries.
Additionally, Jumah’Ri Turner, junior guard, is another starter who had to miss a game due to personal reasons. Turner is expected to return for the next basketball game.
“It makes me feel bad for the guys,” said Casey Vela, freshman music education major and tenor saxophone for Hornet Revue. “They’ve worked really hard this season.”
The Hornet Revue is an ensemble in ESU’s music department.
“The band tries really hard to make sure the team knows we got their back,” Vela said. “I really hope that the guys know that we are there for them and are proud of them.”
Craig Doty, head coach, has won three national championships during his coaching career. His programs have seldom had any student-athlete injuries.
“This year’s injuries are an anomaly,” Doty said.
Since the starters have endured injuries, younger players have had to step into big leadership positions in the starters’ place.
“Injuries are an unfortunate part of the game,” Doty said. “We are trying to view it as an opportunity for our younger guys while simultaneously being there for everyone.”
Van Dyke is one of the starters who had a season-ending injury after tearing his ACL, Doty said.
“(The injury) has made me even more ready to be back,” Van Dyke said. “Every game I watch I wish more and more I was out there, so it is giving me more of a drive.”
Doty views the injuries of the student-athletes and the underclassmen stepping up as a major growth experience for the Hornets. The injured student-athletes will come back even stronger next season and the underclassmen will have more experience than anyone else in the conference, attributed Doty.
“At the end of the day, my one big goal is for us as a team to win our conference game and go from there,” Van Dyke said.
The road to recovery may seem long, but in the end the team will have experience in this type of unfortunate situation. Remaining optimistic is helpful for everyone to look forward to a brighter future.
“We are a family,” Doty said. “We are all there for each other.”
The next home game starts at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 27 at the William L. White Auditorium against Northeastern State University.