[Editor’s Note: Post originally appeared on A Daly Dose Of Hoops, where I’m a staff writer.]
The 2015-16 season was one of program history-making accomplishments for the Wagner Seahawks.
It has been said and repeated, but they were the Northeast Conference regular season champions for the second time, earned their first-ever postseason win in the National Invitational Tournament, and posted 20 wins in a season for the seventh time.
At last week’s Madness Before Midnight, family and friends filled Spiro Sports Center. Coaches and players were all smiles and full of laughter. When it came time for the three-point and dunk contests, which Corey Henson and Marquis Salmon respectively won, it was a fun and competitive atmosphere.
Coach Bashir Mason’s message through to his players through the blaring sound system was simple, but effective: Rings awarded them on the night are silver because of their second place finish, which should be motivation to go for gold.
The following is a brief oral history of what was going through some of the team’s mind when they were celebrating at Madness:
Corey Henson, junior guard:
“It’s good to see people come out and support us like they did all last season, and we expect the same thing this year. We’re going to try to win the whole thing for them. It’s motivation to get another ring and finish the job this time.”
Bashir Mason, fifth-year head coach:
“It’s a great celebration of our guys based off the season we had a year ago. When I walked in and I saw the chairs and bleachers out, I got really excited and goosebumps. It brought me back to championship night.”
Greg Senat, senior forward:
“I’ve never won a major championship my whole life, so it’s just great to see finally all my hard work culminated in one night like this. We have pretty much the whole team coming back from last year with a bunch of great new pieces. The sky is the limit for this team, and I’m just excited to see where we can go.”
JoJo Cooper, junior guard:
“I wish right now we could just play a couple games. That’s just how my body is feeling: Get a couple of buckets, have fun, go on away trips. We just have to take it one step at a time.”
Mike Aaman, redshirt senior forward:
“I just can’t wait to get out there finally, it’s been so long. And to get that bad taste out of our mouths of ending last season with a loss, so it’s going to be fun getting that first win.”
Michael Carey, senior guard:
“We’re losing a lot, but then again, we’re gaining a lot in different areas. We lost Dwaun Anderson, who was a lockdown defender, and Henry Brooks; who was a tactical player, but we’re gaining guys who can offensively light it up. So defensively we’re losing it, but offensively, we’re gaining it. But when you have a great coach like Bashir Mason, I’m pretty sure he’s going to handle all of the pieces the right way. Hopefully we can hang another banner.”
Devin Liggeons, sophomore guard:
“It’s great being with my team enjoying something, take some time off and having fun. We’re usually in the gym getting work in, so it’s nice being in here having fun. When it’s time to go, we’ve got to do what we did last year, but better.”
Shack Scott, junior forward:
“It’s good to have something fun after putting in a lot of work in the summer to get the guys going. We got our own little motto: Attitude. Coach is the type of coach that pushes us. I’m anxious to see what we are right now. We went to Costa Rica and had a couple games out there. I feel like we’re playing well, so I want to see how all the practice translates over.”