New year, fresh optimism for Renegades basketball

By Brandon Smith

Renegades basketball is gearing up for the coming season with a new roster.

Head Coach and Columbia alumnus Joseph Phillips spoke optimistically about his team despite having an almost entirely new lineup. This is Phillips’ third year as the Renegades men’s basketball coach.

“We’re looking to play our first game on Nov. 1 with a brand new roster,” he said. “We’re a little more organized this year. We’re taking everything more seriously, we have different goals and the only way we can move is [forward].”

Returning team co-captain Brian Byrd, a freshman music major, had an equally positive outlook on the new team’s potential.

“I think having a fresh team is really positive, and these guys have a lot of commitment,” he said. “Last year we barely had a team, but now we have this team that is coming up, and I think we’re going to do tremendous.”

Byrd said the team is composed of 15 people, but it only has 12 jerseys.

“If we have more than 12 players show up to games, I’ll have the first 12 people there play,” Byrd said. “The next game, I’ll switch it [up]. I want everyone to play and everyone to have fun, and if that means sacrificing my play[ing] time, then that’s the way it is.”

Eric Collins, team co-captain and interactive arts and media major, said he believes this year’s players have it what it takes to win games and said the entire team is cohesive and plays well together.

Collins added that the players will have more playing time this year than they did last season.

“We already have more games lined up for this season,” he said. “We only got to play five games and a few scrimages last year, and that just isn’t enough if we want to be a real team.”

Phillips said the team had a winning record last year. He believes this year’s team has been successful in the past because of the progress made in organization, commitment and conditioning.

He said commitment is essential for the longevity of the program.

“If we get a group committed to the program, it lets people at Columbia know that we have a great sports team,” Phillips said. “It says to students that not only can you express yourself in the classroom, but also on the court.”

Byrd agrees it’s important for Columbia sports to be recognized, and advertising to the freshmen class is critical, not only for the success of the men’s basketball team, but for all sports at Columbia. He said in the past, people didn’t know Columbia had sports teams, but that is changing.

“I was surprised to find last year how well-known the team was,” Byrd said. “I’ve had random security guards ask me if we won or lost.”

Phillips and Byrd both said although they’d like to see a strong commitment to the team, they also want to make sure players understand they are part of the student body.

“I don’t just want to build a basketball team,” Byrd said.” I want to build a group of friends that can relieve their stress from class together.”

The team works out Saturdays at the Plymouth Court gym, but Byrd said that he likes to take the team outside when the weather permits. He encourages anyone who wants to join to contact him and come to practices.

The Renegades play their first game Nov. 1 at Moraine Valley Community College, 9000 W. College Prkway, Palos Hills , Ill. at 7 p.m. Contact Brian Byrd for more information at