SEASON PREVIEW: Young Runnin Royals Look To Make Noise

(images by Scott Eyre)
(images by Scott Eyre)

The EMU Runnin Royals entered the ODAC Tournament as the tenth seed under first year head coach Melvin Felix a season ago and came a blocked three pointer away from a chance to upset the defending ODAC champions. This team returns a youthful squad that is poised to continue last year's momentum of success, eyeing a return to the conference tournament.

Record in 2018-19: 10-16 (5-11 ODAC)
Coach: Melvin Felix (10-16 overall, 5-11 ODAC in one season) – Last season, the Royals finished fifth in the ODAC with +3 rebounding margin

Season opener in 2019-20:
- host Averett in Yoder Arena on Saturday, Nov. 9 at 2:00pm

Other season highlights:
- host Bridgewater on Monday, Nov. 25 in a nonconference game for the Rowdy Royals Game
- begin conference play hosting reigning ODAC Tournament Champion, Guilford on Saturday, Nov. 30
- play at Don Glick Classic at Bridgewater on Dec. 14 & 15
- play five of eight conference games at home in January
- host four doubleheaders with the EMU basketball women
- celebrate Senior Recognition in their home finale against Ferrum on Saturday, Feb. 15

Interview

SID:   How would you recap 2018-19 in a couple of sentences, and how does that play into your team for this fall?

MF:  The 2018 - 19 Season is one that I will never forget since it was my first one as a Head Coach. I will forever be thankful to the 8 seniors that laid the first brick for the foundation of the Program with me at the helm.  

SID:  You lost a huge senior class.  How will you replace them, both in play and leadership?

MF:  All of those seniors will be hard to replace, they each brought their own touch to our team last season. However we have a young core that will have the opportunity to put their own stamp on the program this season. 

SID:  Who are your key returners and what roles do you expect them to play this year?

MF:  Some of our key returners this season will be Tim Jones (Forestville, Md./Central), DJ Hill (Woodbridge. Va./Hylton), and Jamel Howard (Leesburg, Va./Tuscarora). I expect a lot from them this season not only in production but more importantly in Leadership. This season gives them a great opportunity to not only develop as players, but also develop as young men. 

SID:  With so many starting and reserve roles vacated because of the graduation of last year's seniors, what does that mean for your other returners who didn't see as much playing time last year?

MF:  With losing so many starting and reserve roles that means that there are a lot of minutes out there to be had. Which is exactly what our returners will have a chance to compete for.   

SID:  Tell me a bit about your incoming recruiting class as a whole. 

MF:  I am very excited about our incoming freshman class, they are a hard working group that loves to compete daily. Not only are they pushing each other to get better they are also pushing our upperclassmen.  

SID:  How will the way you constructed this season's schedule benefit your team? 

MF: The way I constructed our schedule will benefit us right away. We will have games against really good teams from the jump. This will allow us to prepare for the gauntlet of a schedule that we have in the ODAC. 

SID:  What are the biggest things you will keep or change from your first year as head coach?

MF:  Most things that we did last year we will keep, however, when you lose three to four starters to graduation there will be some adjusting, so I will have to tweak some things. 

SID:  What have you learned about your team through the preseason?

MF:  Through the preseason I learned that I have a team that loves to compete, will play hard, and has developed great chemistry. 

SID:  What will the strengths of your team be this season?

MF:  With our speed and athleticism our defense will be our consistent force, in turn it will allow to get out in transition and play Royals basketball.  

SID:  Overall general feeling of what 2019-20 will be for your team?

MF:  The expectation to win games will remain the same. However, with such a young group with only one senior, we will have a lot of growth and development this season.