(photo courtesy: Binghamton Athletics)

Binghamton Hopes For Early Success In Non-Conference Play

Tommy Dempsey knew last season that he may have over scheduled in the non-conference portion and paid dearly for it.

Bringing in a team filled with freshmen and sophomores, the group struggled to a 1-14 start, ending non-conference play on a 12 game losing streak that would become 14 in conference play before a win over Maine.

“It’s been hard to go from where we started to where we ultimately want to be, but I feel strongly that we’re in a position to move in a positive direction over the next couple of years,” the head coach entering his fourth season said. “We have to find wins. I think that’s just so important it sounds simple, but you have to win basketball games to get to get the group to believe in everything that we’re trying to get done on a daily basis.”

The hope this season is that they will be able to get wins. Six of their 13 non-conference games are at home, and their focus will be adding some wins to build momentum into conference play.

“I think when we start to find wins we could become a dangerous team, but until we win together, we’re just very unproven,” Dempsey said. “We have some talented guys, but we haven’t accomplished anything yet. I think that starts with putting some wins together in the non-conference schedule that help us believe that, when we get into America East play, that we can truly be effective. It’s not reality until we win games.”

Willie Rodriguez, who led the team in scoring and rebounding last season, said that they have emphasized the importance of getting off to a good start.

“I talked to my prep school coaches and the one thing he always tells me is that you don’t want to get used to losing and that’s not something that I want this team to get used to,” Rodriguez said. “I think winning before the conference schedule is very important to how we’re going to play league play.”

While they only won six games last season, one opposing conference coach said they were the “best six-win team” he’s played against in terms of talent. Plenty of preseason publications have picked the Bearcats in the top half of the league based on their talent, and they hope that talent translates to wins, which could snowball into contending for at least one conference playoff home game.

“We can’t use youth as an excuse because we are not inexperienced, but we still are inexperienced as far as having success,” Dempsey said. “I think that’s where that’s the next step the group, if this group starts to find some success we could be a very dangerous team.”

The last time Binghamton finished over .500 in November and December was during the 2008-09 season, when they made their first NCAA tournament in school history.

Ryan Restivo wrote the America East conference preview for the 2015-16 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. He covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the America East conference among others for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.