As Furman returns to normal operations, and the school year begins, it is time to bust out those tailgate chairs, season tickets, and Furman fan apparel! Furman Athletics made a long-awaited return last semester after seasons were cut short and some teams got cut due to COVID-19. Now, another school year is upon us, and more sports along with it. Here are three things to keep an eye for this fall: men’s basketball, women’s soccer, and the DinMen and GirlGang!
First, men’s basketball. It is going to be a career defining season for Coach Bob Richey. After a disappointing and frankly shocking end to last season, it will be extremely important to see how Furman and Coach Richey respond. Furman Men’s Basketball team was picked to finish first in the regular season and conference tournament last year by the media. The Paladins ended up coming into the conference tournament with a third-place seed and exited quickly. In the Southern Conference Quarterfinal, Furman faced 6 seed VMI and lost after holding nearly a twenty-point lead during one time in the game. UNCG ended up representing the Southern Conference in the national tournament, and I have a feeling that they might do it again. However, Coach Richey returns much of his roster from last year; the team did lose two big contributors in Noah Gurley (Alabama transfer) and Clay Mounce (graduated). Richey also brought in big time talent this year. If the Paladins need to focus on anything this year it is coaching in crunch time, experience, and execution. The talent is there, the coaching is some of the best in the conference, and Furman has given this program all it needs to succeed. It’s time to put it all together.
Second, women’s soccer. The Lady Paladins won the Southern Conference Tournament last spring and put on an absolute show the whole season. All eyes will be on them again, this fall, to see whether or not they have moxy to do it again. While the Lady Paladins did lose in the NCAA tournament to Rice University, they did finish the season with an impressive 8-1-2 record. So far, the Lady Paladins have won all three games they played this season. With a big season coming up, this impressive group looks to repeat as Southern Conference champion this year. Their next game takes place on Sept. 2 against Indiana State.
Finally, the cross country and track program. Arguably one of Furman’s most successful athletic programs, they have sent a number of runners and athletes to professional ranks, Olympic trials, and NCAA National Championships. In a press release from Furman, the expectations are clear for the DinMen and GirlGang: “For the eighth consecutive year, the Furman men's and women's cross-country teams have been tabbed as the Southern Conference preseason favorites in preseason balloting conducted by the league's 10 head coaches, as announced today by the SoCon office. The Paladins are eight-time reigning Southern Conference Champions on both sides.” Watch out for this group; led by Coaches Robert and Rita Gary, the Paladins are poised to add more hardware to their already impressive resume.