On court under pressure

Four D-1 basketball prospects stand together

Lily Taylor, Sports Editor

Hearts are racing. Veins are pulsing as adrenaline courses through. Instincts begin to take over as sneakers screech against the court. All outside noise vanishes; all thoughts spoken about the team disappear as a player stands with their teammates on a court with a ball and an opponent that will just be a number on their record next week.  

A lot can be said about the MN boys basketball team. The talent they have is being noticed, but not without a price. The pressure to be the top team in the state is building as their on-paper prospects soar to new heights as multiple athletes are being recruited to D-1 schools. 

“[There’s] definitely a lot of pressure on us, and there will definitely be a lot of people coming after us. That’s going to be a challenge, overcoming the pressure and being able to play consistently,” senior Max Murrell said. 

To the team, pressure is just a background thought. They make it a priority to not give in to the hype but to embrace it.  

“There’s a little bit of [added pressure this year], but I feel as if pressure is what we put on ourselves. There’s a lot of hype, and I feel like we are going to have to embrace it. We have players and a program that are really going to respect that,” head boys basketball coach Timothy Cannon said. 

Working as a team and playing together as one unit, instead of as individual players, will be their main focus this year.

“[Working together] will be the number one item of importance. That will be the number one thing that we will do,” Cannon said. “Nobody wins a state championship by themselves, and if you don’t make it [to state], nobody stays at home by themselves. You do this as a team.”

With three potential D-1 athletes and one D-1 commit, the spotlight is heavily placed on the team’s “star players,” but instead of working solely to better themselves, all four players work harder to better the team as a whole.

“Being able to play with the D-1 athletes is always a pleasure because they make everyone around them better, and they make everything much more competitive and fun,” senior Noah Erickson said. 

Their first practice begins Nov. 18. Until then, the players will hold  pick-up games and open gyms to keep them competing with each other. 

“We haven’t had any official practices, except for playing in our open gyms and pick-up games. We get competitive in our separate teams, but we do a really good job of coming back together because we know we are still teammates,” Murrell said. 

Throughout these pick-up practices, the players have grown as a team and begun to work more efficiently together. 

“[We have] started working really well together. We are always running down the floor quickly and in transition and creating opportunities for everyone. This will help us play really well together and not just as individuals,” Erickson said. 

Together they have grown as people and as a team, sharing their humility and staying grounded as they put in the work with the hopes of winning a state title.

“It’s really been an enjoyable thing because the group that we have really shares humility, and they are all pretty humble guys that people like to be around. It makes them [work] really good together,” Cannon said. “I also tell them to take it one day at a time because you can’t count all those wins in one day. You can’t win a state title in one day.”