Bouncing back to the top

SPU men’s basketball looks to bounce back after lackluster 2021 campaign

Stephanie Fombona-osorio, Staff Writer

Coach Grant Leep directs the team as Maui Sze (10) looks on during practice on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022. (Rio Giancarlo)

The Seattle Pacific University men’s basketball team has qualified for the NCAA Division II tournament 29 times in its illustrious history. After failing to make the tournament in the 2021-22 season, the team is set on returning to the big dance this season. 

“I know last year there were high expectations, just from talking to people on the team. They didn’t make the GNAC tournament. There was high aspiration for last year,” sophomore transfer Maui Sze said. 

The team has been working hard to cohesively mesh new talent with returning players. The squad has meshed fantastically up to this point, and they are hoping this leads to success during the season. 

“I feel like all of us are pretty close already, even with 11 new guys coming in, me included. We’ve been hanging out a lot, bonding over just lifting weights in the morning, I mean, everyone likes different things, but we’re able to come together as a team well and play good together,” freshman Jonas La tour said. “I feel like we’ll get closer as the season goes on. We’ll go through hard losses, fun wins together and bond over those things.” 

The Falcons understand the pressure on them to return to the NCAA Division II tournament and GNAC title contention. The biggest asset a team can have when dealing with pressure like this is a great coach. 

Coach Grant Leep was honored as the GNAC coach of the year after getting the team to a 22-7 overall record in the 2019-20 campaign. Leep prioritizes excellence in the classroom and takes a holistic approach to coaching his athletes that go beyond on-court results. 

“During the whole recruiting process [SPU was] very constant. Coming to my games and seeing their faces, it became familiar. They told me, ‘We really see you being a great asset for this team.’ After that it was a no-brainer, really,” Sze said. “The coaching staff is incredible; they do a great job at getting the best of each player and getting us to connect as a team as well.”

 The men’s basketball team has big goals, and they have a major chip on their shoulder to bring SPU back to national Division II relevance.

“As a team, we’re here to restore SPU as a powerhouse in our division. This season, we’re bringing only our best,” Sze said.