By Sarah Turner, Sports editor
Montevallo’s Men’s Basketball team is back on the court, beginning their first official week of practice on Oct. 9. The Falcons are going into this season with, essentially, a brand new team, and they’re looking to put the GSC on notice.
In the 2022-23 season, the Falcons went 10-18 overall and 8-16 in conference play. Since then, the team has lost big names like Braxton Bertolette, who led the GSC last year in scoring, averaging 22 points per game, and Tyler Moore, last year’s GSC Freshman of the Year.
UM is only returning three players from last year’s roster: redshirt-junior and graduate student Mason Shiflett, senior Christian Fortner and junior Aidan Gardiner.
The 12 new Falcons are a medley of both transfers and freshmen brought in by head coach Anthony Komara. This is Komara’s second year at the helm of the Falcons men’s basketball program, and his first recruiting class.
“We’ve got a really good freshman class,” said Shiflett of the five newcomers, “they’re young, they’re excited to be here, they’re willing to learn.”
Shiflett also spoke highly of the team’s seven transfers, specifically mentioning sophomore Jaylen Curry and juniors Justin Graham and Charlie Champagne.
The squad was excited to get back on the court. Every player on the roster is focused on winning, which is something that Shiflett hasn’t yet experienced with this program.
“There’s been a lot of setbacks and drawbacks the last couple years since I’ve been here, and it finally feels like that’s behind us,” said Shiflett.
Shiflett also believes that this team is more of a unit than it has been in the past. Even though most of the team had not met each other before returning to campus, there’s already lots of cohesion within the group.
“It’s been a breath of fresh air,” said Shiflett, “it feels like we’re all finally on the same team and we’re moving forward.”
The Falcons will open their season against the defending Division II National Champions, Nova Southeastern University, on Nov. 10 in the Gulf South Conference-Sunshine State Conference Challenge Tournament.
The Falcons will travel to Birmingham later in the season to play in a big matchup on Dec. 17 against UAB. The Blazers were a solid team last year, losing to Florida Atlantic University in the Conference USA Championship, but Shiflett is confident in the team’s abilities, even though they’re facing a Division I opponent.
“I wanna go up there and I wanna make a statement to the country that we’re here, and we’re for real,” said Shiflett.
Shiflett is calling other UM students to support the men’s basketball team at their home games.
“We could have one of the best home court advantages in the country, and we have a beautiful arena, and I’d love to see it full, and we’ve got guys that deserve to have it full,” he said.
Shiflett has seen all of the pieces come together during preseason and knows that this team will be tough to beat once games get underway, saying “Everybody’s got something to prove. Everybody’s been doubted, and I mean, we’re gonna be really good.”