February 21, 2017
By Christopher Sich
Anger, happiness, anxiety, determination; how an athlete controls their emotions is critical to success, but can also lead to failure. The 2016-17 season has been a roller coaster ride for the Dominican’s men’s basketball team. From thrilling overtime wins to heartbreaking losses, comeback wins to comebacks that ended in defeat; the Stars experienced highs and lows all season, and turned to their resiliency and determination when their backs were up against the ropes. They won and lost, fought and grinded, all as a team, but when the team needed a big basket, that big play, or that all important spark, they knew they could turn to their dominant backcourt.
The backcourt made up of senior Josh Mayberry and junior Tim Robertson have helped lead the Stars to a 12-13 record, six more wins than last season, and a berth to the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference (NACC) tournament.
According to the NACC, Mayberry and Robertson are top 10 in points per game and minutes per game, which is indicative of their impact on the Stars and the conference. They both are averaging 18.1 points per game, seventh and eighth in the conference, and are averaging more than 33 minutes per game.
“The individual success has come from us just working hard in the off-season; also gaining strength has been another reason that we attained this success,” Mayberry said. “We both have also gotten older and gained experience to know what to expect day-to-day.”
The gained experienced has helped vault the Stars to championship contention, and they don’t plan on holding back.
“We are feeling extremely confident, all we have to do is string together a couple good games and we will be playing for the NACC Championship,” Robertson said. “I have no doubt in my mind that other teams around the league are nervous that they have to play us, a team that can comeback from any point difference, a team that has 2 of the top 10 scorers in the league, a team that has a freshman Ben Walker who is second in the conference in three point shooting, and a team that has overall increased the defensive pressure we have had over the last few years. I believe we are a scary team to face.”
This acquired confidence has been a season long effort. The Stars have faced adversity, such as versus Illinois Tech and Rockford, where they won in comeback fashion. In previous seasons these games would have had different outcomes.
According to Robertson, this year the team is sticking together no matter have difficult or steep the deficit is. This was the case versus Rockford College and Aurora University, two games where the Stars had no energy and were down a large deficit, but kept fighting to come back and win.
The will to keep fighting is a staple of the Stars, and a reason why they have this confidence heading into the conference tournament. Mayberry and Robertson know, though, that they must be prepared to lead the team if needed.
“I put the responsibility of being the emotional leader on my shoulders; I know whether I am scoring or not the team, looks to me for my energy,” Robertson said. “Whether I am taking charges, blocking shots, running the floor hard, or getting pumped up for ‘and ones’, I know the team feeds of that energy I bring to the team.”
Mayberry knows that he and Robertson will earn Concordia Wisconsin’s attention, their opponent in the first round of the NACC tournament.
“We know that we are going to be the two that other teams will be scouting the most, and with that in mind, we still have to go out and be effective in order for our team to be successful,” Mayberry said. “So we both know that we are going to have to work harder than other players so that we can handle the increased pressure.”
With more pressure comes more responsibly, something that both Mayberry and Robertson are prepared for. After years of being together on and off the court, they formed a brotherhood, something they will turn to on their journey to the championship.
“Over the past several years we have built up a relationship almost like brothers,” Mayberry said. “There have been times when we may have gone at it, but it was because we are both passionate about the game and want to win.”
The competition between the two has helped take their games to the next level, and has also led to a mutual respect on and off the court.
Mayberry said: “I think that our passion, though, has helped because we both have respect for each other. During the games, we feed off each other very well because we know that our opponents are going to be focusing on us both the most. We know when one of us has the hot hand and when to feed each other. Overall, our relationship on and off the court is very good.”
Can the Stars make it to the conference championship? Of course they can, and they have the evidence to prove it. They have beat Aurora University, one of the top three teams in the conference, by 36 points, went to overtime against third ranked Concordia Wisconsin, and battled top seed Benedictine to a last minute defeat. The confidence is there, but in the conference tournament every team gets a clean slate.
“All the records and accolades are thrown out the window come Wednesday, it’s team vs. team, and all records become 0-0. All me and josh have to do is lead, whether that’s through scoring, through being a coach on the floor, through effort, whatever it is, and Dominican will shock the world,” Robertson said. “I’m ready and excited for this opportunity, I am hungry, and I know my teammates are as well.”
At 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 22, in Mequon, Wisconsin, the time will come. The Dominican University Stars versus the Concordia Wisconsin Falcons, sixth seed versus third seed, winner advances, and loser goes home.