By Megan Seals
For Union’s men’s basketball team, the 2010-2011 season may be known as a rebuilding year. With the loss of senior players last year, the Bulldogs are having new leaders step up on the court. Seniors Stan McNeil, sports marketing major, and Roland Banhoro, marketing major, are two of the leaders facing the challenge.
The Bulldogs are coming off their seventh TranSouth title in the 14-year history of the league. Last season the Bulldogs graduated five players, three of whom started.
Banhoro said he feels hopeful the team will continue to thrive on the court, despite the loss of players.
“It is up to us now to fulfill the expectations going into this season,” Banhoro said.
He also said the team is equipped with talented players and it will take time, hard work and dedication to compete in the season ahead.
Throughout his four years playing for the Bulldogs, Banhoro has been known for post scoring and rebounding, and he will work to continue that reputation.
But Banhoro said he faces some obstacles going into his last year for the Bulldogs.
“My biggest challenge is staying healthy,” Banhoro said. “Lately, I am having some health issues, (such as) tendonitis in my knee.”
However, Banhoro said his issues with his knee are not going to prevent him from playing. After rehabilitation and surgery, he said he feels hopeful the knee will hold up and he can control the pain over his last season with the Bulldogs.
Along with Banhoro, McNeil will be seen leading on the court for the Bulldogs. After playing two years at Jackson State Community College, McNeil decided to transfer schools. With his mind previously set on Lee University, McNeil decided to transfer to Union to be apart of its academic’s and athletic program.
McNeil averaged 20 points, three assists and two steals per game at Jackson State. He even set a Jackson State record with 104 three-pointers as a freshman.
He followed that performance by being selected as a first team All-Conference and All-Region performer as a sophomore. He was selected as a 2008–2009 preseason Honorable Mention All-American by the National Junior College Athletic Association.
McNeil said his greatest challenge is that people see his size as a disadvantage. However, McNeil said his motivation is to prove that idea wrong and he does not let the height difference affect his game.
“I want to show people what I can do besides what they expect,” McNeil said. “It’s my last year, and I want to make all the shots I can and prove myself from last year.”
As for Banhoro, his attitude and drive are what make him a leader on the court.
“I want to positively impact the team,” Banhoro said. “I want to help them as much as I can, and I also want to stay focused, not only on the court but in the classroom, to finish strong. I want to make sure I enjoy my last year on the team.”
Along with their time involved in the sport, McNeil and Banhoro said coach David Niven encourages them equally in the academic field.
For these two players, their heart and passion for the sport is what shines the most on the court.
Despite the challenges ahead, hard work and dedication for the game has brought them to places neither would expect. And for that, they both say they are grateful and will continue to thrive for the fans and coach.