Furman Men’s Basketball has entered the offseason following their depressing exit from competition as a result of a loss to VMI in the Southern Conference Tourney. The Dins have failed to win the big games that matter. A number of factors could combine to consistently produce this result: playing during Covid-19, coaching, lack of experience, and inconsistent play. So, what’s next for the Dins?
Coach Bob Richey has led Furman to national recognition; a strong record, impeccable home record, impressive players, and a well-run program have given Richey’s team and program some notoriety. Furman has improved its marketability greatly and become a force to reckon with in the Southern Conference. However, it’s a moot point if the Dins, and Richey, fail to make the NCAA tournament. Following his contract extension, Richey has failed to lead the Dins beyond the Southern Conference tournament. In an exclusive interview with The Paladin, Richey explained there’s much more he hopes to accomplish with the program than winning. Richey told The Paladin in the fall that he focuses on four things: “People, process, product, and performance…we want to show the difference that our program makes, we want to show how unique we are.” This is an admirable goal, and it sets a good example. However, Richey also explained the goal every year is to make the NCAA tournament via an automatic bid from a Southern Conference tournament win. Clearly, the Paladins have underperformed, and something has got to give. The talent is there, coaching looks great from an outside perspective, and Furman has the resources to be an elite program.
Looking at next year, Senior Alex Hunter, in The Paladin’s version of 94 Feet, said there is one area in which the team can greatly improve: “mentality.” Hunter went on to explain that “when we [the team] were hit with adversity in some games we weren’t able to respond so I feel like we got all the talent and the coaching staff is on top of things, so once we get [mentality] right the sky is the limit.”
The Paladins lose a big contributor in Clay Mounce, but the team will mostly look the same for next season. If anything changes, it will only be adding talent. One of those more notable recruits is James Lee Repass; he is a big player with lots of potential and talent. The Paladins have built a very solid backcourt with Garret Hein, Slawson and Gurley. Adding Repass to this group makes the Dins’ backcourt extremely formidable. Guard and senior leader Alex Hunter is coming back for another season, too.
Obviously, much like this year, The Paladins appear to be an early favorite to win the Southern Conference. If all the chips fall into place, Furman could break the 30 plus year drought for an NCAA bid, but they will have to show up and perform when it matters.