Even though the Ravens ended their season in the first round of the HCAC tournament with a loss to Manchester University, Coach Handy said that “success with youngsters last year and the returning three guys who were off last season” is what has led to the high expectations for his team going into this season.
Handy also mentioned the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference’s (HCAC) preseason rankings for the 2021 season that put the Ravens sitting on top.
Last spring, the clear take away from the conference poll was that “nobody really knows what could happen in the conference.”
That statement could be true by Handy. In the poll this year, there were five teams that received at least one first-place vote. Anderson and Hanover College were tied with the most votes with 81. Anderson led in first place votes with four.
Looking ahead to this season, the Ravens basketball team has created a buzz and expectation around campus. The Ravens have high hopes of meeting those expectations.
Sophomore guard Jordan Gadis said he felt the team was eager to play with the expectations put on them.
Coach Owen Handy is back in his 10th season at Anderson with a very experienced roster. Maurice Knight rejoins the team after taking last season off. Also, a healthy Dalton Dubois returns to help Francis Uzohr in the paint.
The Ravens are also bringing back sophomores Camden Smith, Jordan Gadis, Alex Hunt and Fred Shropshire. They all saw the court substantially in their freshman seasons.
With the return of Maurice Knight, the Ravens gained a ton of on-court accolades. The senior from Frankton, Indiana started all 27 games in the 2019-2020 season, was the HCAC defensive player of the year and was named first-team all-conference.
“I think Maurice is our undisputed leader on the court,” said Coach Handy. “He is clearly a leader that can dominate both ends of the floor.”
In the absence of Knight last season, the Ravens needed to get valuable minutes out of younger players. Jordan Gadis, a freshman last season, led all Raven freshmen in minutes, averaging 26 minutes per game. Junior guard Cade Gentry also averaged 23.5 minutes and 8.9 points per game last season.
This season, Gentry said that the Ravens x-factor is Fred Shropshire.
“He can do everything on the court,” said Gentry. “His ability to make plays when others aren’t helps us.” Shropshire averaged 8 points and 24.6 minutes per game last season.
A new batch of Raven recruits have also joined the team this season.
“Josh Durham is a freshman that people should know about,” said Cade Gentry. “He is a great on-ball defender.” Durham is a freshman from Noblesville, Indiana.
Camden Smith said that the freshman to lookout for is Tate Ivanyo. The freshman from Valparaiso, Indiana is a “really good shooter,” said Smith.
The Ravens have gotten a good start on the early season expectations. They are 2-0 in their first two regular season matchups. In their first game against Adrian College, the Ravens won 75-65. Maurice Knight had 11 rebounds and led both teams in scoring with 21. Sophomore Jordan Gadis also had 11 rebounds and 15 points.
In game two of their Michigan road trip, the Ravens snuck out a win against Kalamazoo College, 74-71. For the second time in this early season, Knight led the Ravens in points and rebounds with 11 points and nine rebounds.
The Ravens have a tall task ahead of them setting out to win the conference. To end the season as the number one team in the conference, Coach Handy explained that they “have to be committed to defending and rebounding at the maximum level we are capable of.” Handy also said that “the team needs to have players that accept their roles.”
“Our overall goal is to be on top,” said Jordan Gadis. “For us to accomplish that, we must stay true to our values as a team and play together.”
In the upcoming weeks, the Ravens have back-to-back home games against Illinois College and Olivet College before returning to Michigan to play at Calvin College. HCAC action tips-off on Dec. 1. The Ravens will travel to Hanover College in a game that features the top two teams in the HCAC pre-season poll.