UNCW MBB: The ‘Bugatti’ of college basketball

Bailey Swogger, Contributing Writer

With only a little over a week remaining in the month of October, that can mean only one thing…

College basketball season is finally here!

Before UNCW men’s basketball opens the 2021-22 campaign with a home exhibition matchup against Francis Marion, questions are being asked about what type of season the Seahawks are going to have.

The predictions being discussed have not been promising for UNCW.

After a sub-par 2021, finishing 7-10 overall and 1-6 in conference play, the CAA preseason polls are picking the Seahawks to finish last in the conference once again.

Some coaches want their team to ignore the preseason talk, but not UNCW Head Coach Takayo Siddle.

“We posted it everywhere in our locker room for them to see, but we haven’t really addressed it with the team,” Siddle said. “Our main focus is and will always be to do the day in front of us well.”

UNCW men’s basketball (Zachary Kilby/The Seahawk)

What may have gone under the radar of the preseason polls are all the newcomers that this Seahawk team features and how much production they will provide to the team.

“We like our entire team and feel like one of our strengths is depth at each position,” Siddle said. “Our newcomers and transfers will play a huge role in our team’s success this season.”

Possibly the biggest change on the court for the Seahawks since bringing in Coach Siddle was the increase in scoring. Two seasons ago, under former Head Coach C.B. McGrath and interim Head Coach Rob Burke, the team finished ninth in the conference when it came to scoring. Last season, Siddle had the team finish second in the CAA in scoring.

With a guard-heavy, quick and athletic roster, Siddle does not plan on slowing the scoring down this season. Siddle said the team’s identity will be playing “fast and aggressive on both ends of the floor” and the roster “is tailored to play an uptempo style of basketball.”

It is not news to anyone that the team has underperformed ever since Siddle and the rest of Kevin Keatts’ staff left back in 2017. In fact, in the last four years, the team has only won a total of 38 games. That is only nine more than Keatts won as head coach of the Seahawks in the 2016-2017 season alone. 

With Siddle back, there is hope again that Seahawk basketball can return to the top of the CAA. The second-year head coach is confident that the team is headed in that direction.

UNC Wilmington students Brent Jansen (low, center-left) and Jacob Denton (low, center-right) hold up their signature whiteboard with the message “We are believers” in the student section during UNCW’s men’s basketball game vs. Hofstra on Feb. 10, 2018.

“The foundation has already been laid,” Siddle said. “The culture has changed, the roster is made up of talented and high-character student-athletes, the entire program embraces our process and there is a major focus on attention to details on and off the court. My staff and I feel really good about the direction that the program is headed in.”

One of the best things about college basketball is the atmosphere the students create. Winning and filling the seats work hand-in-hand, as having a packed house can have an impact on the game and boost the team to victory, while on the other hand the easiest way to fill those seats is to win games. 

Coming off of a not-so-impressive season, students may be turned away from coming to games at the beginning of the season, but Coach Siddle has a message to the student body about why they should come out to watch the team.

“We play hard, tough, smart, and together,” Siddle said. “We are 10 deep with guys that can really score the basketball. We want to score 80-90 points per game so there will be a lot of threes, dunks, and pressing. I like to call this team the Bugatti of college basketball, which is one of the fastest cars in the world. Buckle your seatbelts and enjoy the ride.”