Another shot for men’s basketball

By Lindsey Woods

Men’s basketball teams at Columbia have a history of fouling out and collapsing after problems like transportation arise. But one Columbia freshman is determined to revive the historically tumultuous program.

Brian Byrd, music major and co-captain of the basketball team, is shooting for a Renegades men’s basketball team to start this semester and is optimistic about the interest thus far.

“I’ve seen the passion in a lot of the men,” Byrd said. “There’s a lot of people right now emailing me about the interest meetings coming up.”

Renegades President Kevin Hartmann said that from what he’s seen, the upcoming men’s basketball team has a good shot at sustainability if they stay committed.

“I think basketball is a sport we have a lot of interest in, so with the right captains, formation and attitude, the basketball team could go a really long way,” Hartmann said.

Usually Byrd would take over the full role of captain, but since he is a freshman and doesn’t have a recorded grade point average, he isn’t eligible to be captain under the Renegades constitution, which stipulates captains must have a 2.5 GPA or higher, according to Cress.

Byrd and the future team have a lot of work ahead. On top of holding interest meetings and setting up practices, Byrd must confront the different skill levels of all players.

“We’re all going to be at different levels,” Byrd said. “You have to remember, this is an art school. My job as a captain is to ensure that they all have the heart for it and we can teach [each] other how to build our skills.”

Joining a league may have to be put off for a semester because of the late start the team is facing, according to Byrd. He hopes to join a league during the spring.

That doesn’t mean the Renegades won’t be playing, though. According to Cress, the Illinois Institute of Technology contacted the Renegades about setting up a few pick-up games. In the past, the basketball teams have played against the club and junior varsity teams of DePaul University.

Past teams have a habit of being enthusiastic at first but then collapsing because of waning student interest, according to Forrest Frazier, secretary of the Renegades and junior film and video major.

“It’s the students,” Frazier said. “There’s no way around it. I find it really disappointing that the school can’t generate the amount of student involvement they want to have.”

On a brighter note, Frazier said the basketball team has something that no other team has: a steady coach. Joe Phillips, who assists several teams around the area, has helped the Renegades train in past seasons and will hopefully return, according to Frazier.

“When I was a freshman [Phillips] was coaching the basketball team before things fell apart,” Frazier said. “I can say from personal experience, he knows what he’s doing.”

Hartmann said that to be different from past teams, Byrd and his recruits need to do what other successful Renegades teams do: commit.

“Yeah, they’re not NCAA athletes, but they still have a commitment to the team,” Hartmann said. “Sports can be an amazing opportunity both personally and professionally, but athletes just need to commit.”

Interest meetings will be held at The Loft in 916 S. Wabash Ave. For more information on the interest meetings or the basketball team, contact Brian Byrd at, or the Renegades office at (312) 369-6917.