WILLIAMSBURG (WAVY) – Often times during practice, don’t be surprised to hear head coach Tony Shaver yell, “Championship effort, guys! Championship effort!”
His William & Mary men’s basketball has certainly given that to this point in the season. The Tribe (14-7, 8-2) are now alone in first place atop the Colonial Athletic Association, although Shaver points out it’s still very early. Too early to start celebrating anything.
“It reallydoesn’t mean anything right now,” Shaver said on Tuesday, “We want to be there at the end of the season, but I think all that builds confidence in your players. It’s where you want to be. It’s nice to have a target on your back a little bit, and we’ll see how we can handle it.”
The Tribe defense has been as solid as any unit in the CAA, holding opponents to just 65.2 points a night (fifth best in the conference). Their field goal percentage defense is second-best in the conference. Opponents have only managed an average of 41.7 percent shooting against William & Mary.
But it’s the offense that really has the tribe truckin’. “We have a lot of weapons,” said Omar Prewitt. The sophomore guard dealt with a number of injury problems to start the season, but has since averaged over 18 points a game over his last six outings.
“It feels a lot better than the start of the season,” said Prewitt, “I’ve been getting in the gym just putting up shots and it’s fun to make shots.”
Marcus Thornton is no stranger to making shots. The senior is just 131 points from breaking the school’s all-time scoring records, which has stood since 1950. He says his reputation helps his teammates a great deal. “One of (our opponents’) key initiatives is to stop me. So, sometimes it gets other guys open,” said Thornton, who’s 19.2 points a night is second-best in the CAA behind Drexel’s Damion Lee.
Numbers, stats and records aside, the goal hasn’t changed for Shaver’s team. They want to be contenders for a championship come March. They’ll have to do as the hunted.
“We’re not going to shy away from that Not going to run from it,” said Shaver.