Video Transcript Below
Welcome back here to the University Men’s Basketball Media Day. I’m Paul Cowdery, the long time voice of the bias. Great to be with you here today. As I always privileged to be able to put the headset on and be inside the Gates gymnasium high above Mike Lightfoot’s court, where so many great games have happened and so many great experiences for your surely have really kind of kept me energized over the course of the 20 plus years I’ve been privileged to be here. And Steve Drabyn, who I’ve known, seems a little guy, I’m so excited about the opportunity to be back and be able to spend time with the pilots this year. And Steve, I know that for you as you continue to grow and mature as a coach, I know that each and every year is a new experience and this year is really going to be like one of those experiences with a lot of new faces and certainly an exciting time for you moving forward.
Well, let’s just talk about bringing in so many new guys in a wide variety of talents and skill sets from a local guy. So guys across the pond, you guys, guys went all over the place to get these guys.
Head Coach Steve Drabyn
Yeah. It’s interesting you say that. You know, I talk with several coaches in our league and, you know, one coach mentioned it’s like we’re global, you and he’s a man. You got, you know, contacts from everywhere. And I’m thinking, you know, really we’ve only had one player that has come from from overseas. PHILLIPS To go to every other guy has been in the States, right.
So I don’t really have many international contacts. We just happened to get him from schools here in the States. But I’m excited. It’s a, you know, new year, fresh here, some new faces, some awesome returning guys that we’re excited about stepping into bigger roles, leadership roles and the new guys coming in, I think, have meshed well with our staff, with the school battle and with our returning guys.
So we’re excited. I think we’re at a good summer. We had a three week mini camp where we played one game, had ten practices and you know, guys were able to bond and we did a lot of stuff off the floor and so we’re ready to roll.
Two really talented players who have played a lot of minutes returned to wear the uniform this year in Nathan Eric Sousa, 1000 points, scored a 500 career rebound guy. One of those top 50 players in Bethel history. You can look at that historically and you can make the point that he’s in that picture. But also, Brandon Hunt, one of the most talented young players in all of any basketball, too good guys to really start building this year’s roster.
There’s no doubt. I remember one game last year, I think it was Lincoln at home and those two guys, I can’t remember their stat line, but you know, I think one guy had 22 and ten, the other guy had 23 and eight and coach three. The next morning said, Hey, those guys have three years left and two years left after this year.
And so you love having guys like that that you can build around. They’re going to be around for a few years and they’re just, you know, Nathan Ertz is just as consistent as can be. He does a lot of a lot of things on the floor that that are on the stat page. He’s calm, cool, collected. He gets, you know, details, right?
He just finds ways to get things done. You have Brandon Hunt, who is a great talent, athletic li, really good shot blocker with both hands. He’s just gotten better and better as he’s been here. So we’re looking for those two guys to take steps forward, both as players and as leaders on this team and to build room.
You’ve got a lot of guys. What I like to use the terminology program players, kids who have dedicated their lives to for the benefit of the program, whether they’re going to play 40 minutes or if they’re going to play 2 minutes. And you got to love kids that who are willing to be like that. Romeo Parker goes the guy live Granville Foster Medford Nikki stolen off Trent Edwards Phillips to go to and a lot of these guys have had injuries.
They’ve always had setbacks, but they continue to fight. And really, this is what battle men’s basketball has been about through the many, many years, as they have in that fight.
The tenacity, the wherewithal to continue to do what’s best for the Bethel University men’s basketball program. So can you speak to those program kids that are play pivotal roles each and every day?
There’s no doubt every every player brings value. Every player, you know, has unique skill sets that they can they can bring to the table. You know, you talked about the Romeo Parker’s life, Greenville’s, Trent Edwards, guys that are great team guys. That’s what we try to build our program around is just having guys that they don’t care who get the credit.
They’re going to try to put forth their best effort to be the best versions of themselves. You know, if their numbers are called upon, they’re going to be ready. If it’s not, they’re going to be great team guys on the bench, great practice players, and we’ve had a good share of those guys. You know, Mickey still Hanno Phillips the go to guys that their effort is consistent their ability to be great teammates consistent and those guys are our program guys are going to help move forward in the right direction.
They brought in a boatload of new guys, guys that we’ve had a chance to meet today. But one specifically, and I’m going to single him out because a lot like watching you grow up and doing your games in high school. I had a chance to watch Drew lots play in high school, did his games in high school, talented kid memory.
He was skinny as a rail when he first put on a pair in uniform. And now looking at him, how he spelled out he averaged ten points last year and had over 100 assists for Incarnate Word in Division one school and in San Antonio. So he’s a guy I want to start with him and talk about his skill set.
You know, that he’s got that Indiana basketball mentality that I think is pivotal for you to have success in the Crossroads league.
There’s no doubt, you know, one of the many reasons I came back to Indiana, to this school that I wanted to be here at Bethel, was just being back in the great state of Indiana and having guys recruiting guys like Drew Lutz. You know, my college coach, Coach Rick Bird was fortunate to play for him. He made a comment about recruiting.
You want to recruit guys that get the most out of their ability. And he’s a guy that does that. You know, he’s he’s in the gym constantly. He’s a gym rat. He was came you know, comes from a great high school basketball program. And Penn played for a legendary coach. Rhodes, you know, play for college. He’s going to have another Indiana guy I know played at Purdue.
But so he sees me coached. He’s well trained. And he’s not only from a basketball standpoint, he’s going to be a great player for us, but just the intangibles is going to be huge for us. He’s you know, you want your best players to be your best teammates, to be your hardest workers. And he’s that so he’s going to he’s going to have a lot of guys follow him in that respect and get the most out of their abilities.
It would take us all day to go through all the skill sets of the other young guys that have come into the program. Some they’re going to be with you for a couple more years, maybe one for one or two years. So can you can you give us the fly over version on the rest of the roster is it’s about a lot of talent, a lot of athleticism.
Yeah. You know, excited about, you know, the other five guys coming in besides Drew. You know, Chikara Tanaka is had a pretty interesting, you know, last four years in the States and played with some on some good teams with some good talent. He has a charisma about him as a person. Yeah, a player can make an open shot, a really good athlete, a really good defender.
I’m excited about having him guard some of the best players in our league. You know, Tanguy Touze goes by TE brings a great skill set offensively, can shoot it really good passer. You know both those guys, Chikara and T are very good, unselfish guys that give the ball up. You know, Jordan Okojie from Temple Community College plays really hard can can run the floor.
I think, you know the Bethel fans are going to love how hard he plays and what he brings to the table. Deacon [Health] He can flat shoot it. He’s got a great stroke, can shoot it with range. You have a guy like Andrew Lutz that’s so good at and crafty at getting in the paint, you know, to have a guy like Deacon that can shoot it like he does anytime he shoots it, I think it’s going in.
And so he’s smart, he’s tough. He’s you know, he said he’s a college graduate already. He’s got two years left. And then our petulance, you know, played for a really good high school coach in Mark Price, who kind of has that Belmont lineage and knows how to play played in a similar system in high school that we played.
He’s smart, he’s tough, unselfish, he’s a good kid. It’s going to be hard to keep a guy like that off the floor with all he brings to the table. So I’m really excited about the a group coming in.
Take a look at the landscape of the Crossroads League. I tell you what, you got to bring your A-game. You know this. You’ve you’ve seen the last few years, but for the young kids, there are new kids on the block. And talking with Brandon hard, he’s the first person to admit he was surprised on how difficult the league is.
And it takes no prisoners. And you got to be mentally, emotionally. I mean, you got to lean on your own wherewithal to be able to get through this thing. It’s a gantlet. It really is. So talk about for you and how you’ve grown to respect the coaches and the the gymnasiums and the fans in the best league in America.
You know, we’re trying to make everything hard. Our practices, our conditioning, our lifting because our league is hard, really, really hard. And I tell people like, you have to have everything to win. You have to have talent, athleticism, skill set, a togetherness, a toughness, a character. You have to have culture. If you’re missing one thing, it’s hard to win in this league and you can do all those things well and still get beat on any given night in this league by any team.
And that’s, again, another reason why I came here, because it’s a challenge. It’s the expectations are high here. And I want that that’s going to make me better as coach our staff better, our team better, you know, like we found out a couple of years ago, if you can make it through our league and finish, you know, well, it’s going to give you a chance to win it all.
Your nonleague schedule is almost suicidal. If you think about it. You got Holy Cross in Iowa City. Two of the best teams in the KC Aosp is absolutely loaded. Yeah. Then you got the teams coming from Oregon and Oregon Tech and Bushnell, and then you’ve got William Pena. I would give him a top five team every year and that’s just a smidgen of some of the teams.
So you guys have got to be good together right out of the gate.
Steve, we’ll find out. You didn’t mention southeastern or Florida. Yes. You know, two teams that had really good years last year. They’ve got really good talent. It’s, you know, strap it up. Let’s let’s go. You want to play the best, you want to prepare yourself. I think that non-conference schedule is going to prepare us for the league, which ultimately matter, you know, and any I ask about how you finish in your league is what matters the most and that that non-conference schedule is going to prepare us for our league, which in my opinion is the best in the country and I’m excited about our players are excited about it.
We’re working towards, you know, preparing ourselves to be the best we can be in the league and let’s go.
The the Hall of Famer from Laporte, the Hall of Famer from Belmont, Steve Draven with special guest here today, honor Bethel University men’s basketball media coverage. Don’t forget Bethel men’s basketball right here all season long. We’re going to Florida with the playoffs, going to go down and hang out with our long time friend Donnie Smith. And we’re going to we’re going to bring you every exciting moment of Bethel basketball right here on regional radio sports.
We’ll be back with more after this.