MBB Preview

NAU men’s basketball huddles during a game against Jacksonville University Nov. 10, 2018.

Old and new players are coming together as friends off the court to demonstrate interim men’s basketball coach Shane Burcar’s concept on transference.

Stepping on the court at the start of each season generates different reactions. Brooks DeBisschop is beginning his final season as a Lumberjack. Meanwhile, Isaiah Lewis is beginning his first.

Although the two are at opposite spectrums of their college careers, a bond has been created among the entire roster.

With the amount of time these men spend together, it may be surprising that they are not tired of one another.

Most days consist of morning conditioning at 6 a.m., followed by nutrition and late morning practices. Then they attend classes in the afternoon. Some athletes and most newcomers are required to go to study hall in the evenings.

From start to finish, the men’s basketball team spends just about every waking moment together. It does not stop there. These athletes are best friends.

“This group has come together really quickly — more than past years,” DeBisschop said. “Everyone gets along off the court, and that translates on the court. Everyone is honestly really hard workers.”

It is difficult to say whether the team’s relationships on the court are reflected by their time together outside of the gym or vice versa. The bond the veterans see during this preseason is already different than in years past.

One tangible difference is in the coaching staff. Burcar took over as interim head coach after Jack Murphy traveled down south for a coaching job at his alma mater, UA.

“We do a lot to make sure we have a cohesive team,” Burcar said. “At the end of the day, it is up to the boys and what they put into motion.”

The word the Lumberjacks hold close to their hearts this season is transference, which is described as the ideas or expectations of one person being redirected and put into application by another. Burcar and his staff ensure that their concepts are being grasped and expressed in an applicable way by the team.

With a new coaching staff and playing environment, it is important for Burcar to know what he wants, needs and means is being properly expressed.

The concept of asking questions also goes hand in hand with transference. The environment on the court is created to feel as a safe space for everyone. No matter their college experience, no one is looked down upon for asking questions, and the people answering never respond condescendingly.

“Old and new, we need to make sure everyone is comfortable,” Burcar said.

The Lumberjack’s newest additions include five freshmen and one transfer sophomore. Ten veteran players will return this season.

The team is excited to have freshman forward Isaiah Lewis wearing blue and gold. Lewis came from Little Elm, Texas and is still adjusting to the Flagstaff climate.

“Even though we practiced in June and are practicing every day, I still have a hard time catching my breath. Back home it’s still hot, and it got cold here early, so it is a challenge. But I like it,” Lewis said with a smile.

Lewis said he is excited to play every game. He wants to go out and compete every day, but is looking forward to his first big college game against none other than UA, Nov. 6.

The excitement levels are heightened for DeBisschop in this game, because it will be broadcast on national television. He sees it as a mini showcase of his and the team’s talents against those he calls “the big dogs.”

This will be DeBisschop’s final season. He said he has 29 or 30 guaranteed games and plans to leave on a high note. He has appeared in nearly every game since his freshman year. During his sophomore season, he made his name appear among the Big Sky Conference leaders at No. 4 place for rebounds with a 7.4 average, the best on the team. On and off the court, his successes are acknowledged, as he was only the third men’s basketball player to be named an Academic All-America selection.

Despite his past personal successes, he knows this season holds something special for NAU.

“You can’t win a championship today,” DeBisschop said. “You’ve gotta win every single day, and I think we’re already in a good spot.”

The team will have a blue and gold scrimmage in the Rolle Activity Center Saturday, Oct. 19.