NASHVILLE --- With the first exhibition game just over a month away, the Tennessee State men’s basketball team held its first official practice of the 2018-19 season on Sunday night at the Gentry Center.
First-year Head Coach Brian “Penny” Collins, donning a Robert Covington Philadelphia 76ers jersey, guided the squad through the first full team workout.
Coming off a 15-15 record in 2017-18, the Tigers open the year with an Oct. 31 home exhibition game versus Tennessee Wesleyan before the season opener on Nov. 10 at Lipscomb. TSU features six returning letterwinners including seniors Armani Chaney and Stokley Chaffee Jr.
TSU HEAD COACH BRIAN “PENNY” COLLINS
(thoughts on the first official practice)
“I think our guys’ spirit and energy has been on a high level from the summer all the way through preseason workouts. Tonight’s practice was really no different. They have that same spirit and energy - It was really high. Tonight was different because it’s the first time we practiced over an hour. Now they just need to know how to sustain it and have that energy for an entire practice, which is very similar to how it’s going to be in the game as well.”
(on if he puts a lot of thought behind it being his first official practice as TSU’s head coach)
“I really haven’t because we’ve been together so much. We’ve had over 30 opportunities to be on the court together, so to me, it’s just another day. We did a lot of new stuff today with our guys trying to get game ready. Anytime you’re doing new things, it’s a lot more teaching than playing, so today’s practice was a little choppy because of that.”
(on the focus of practice)
“I think the focus of today was just being able to maintain energy and keep that same energy from the beginning of practice all the way to the end. We’re just getting our bodies and minds ready for the grind and making them understand that it’s not going to be easy this year. We’re not going to be able to just show up and beat people. We have to outwork them in every aspect of the game and overcome adversity.”
(on the area he’s most impressed with his team)
“I think the best thing is that our guys care about each other, and they really want to get better. They’re sponges right now. They want to win, and they want to do something special. They’re playing hard for me. I think that’s the most important thing right now for our guys. I know one thing for sure – when we play a game, they’re going to play extremely hard for me, for themselves and for each other.”