Red Hawk Madness is the first of many new experiences freshmen Darian Gonzalez and Jared Craddox will go through in their first season as members of the Montclair State University Men’s Basketball Team.
The pep-rally like celebration held in Panzer Athletic Center last Tuesday featured performances by the MSU Cheerleading Team, Complexions Dance Team and the MSU Pep Band. For Gonzalez and Craddox, it was unfamiliar territory.
“I’ve never experienced something like this,” said Craddox. “This is very exciting for my first college year. I’m ready for this season and the whole feel of college in general.”
For the two young Red Hawks, adjusting to life as a part of a new team can be difficult. Both Craddox and Gonzalez, who played at Newark Tech, have nothing but praise for their teammates helping with their transition.
“It’s been a good experience,” Gonzalez said. “We’ve gotten to know what’s going on around campus. We know where everything is. And we just know how everything is going. Not just the basketball. On and off the court they help. It’s a great experience.”
Speaking of experience, one of the major obstacles first year athletes face is the change from high school sports to competing at the collegiate level. Red Hawks head coach Ted Fiore knows the transition can be tough, but said he has high expectations from this collection of freshmen.
“I never know what to expect from freshmen,” the coach said. “However, with that being said, one young man, Erick Lofton-Harris, is fighting for a starting position as a point guard.”
Fiore said Gonzalez is a player he expects to develop into a contributor over the course of the season. “He picks up things really well, shoots the ball well,” said the coach who is entering his 16th season at the helm of the Red Hawks. “But the other guys are freshmen and they’re going to have to work at it. But I like them all. I think they all have tremendous potential and you’ll hear from them in this program before it’s all over,”
As for the players themselves, so far they have accepted their roles and are more concerned with helping the team improve as opposed to any individual goals. Craddox may have even summed up the freshmen’s approach best.
“I’m expecting to have a good season here,” he said. “I’m not so much worried about playing time. I’m just worried about helping the team out as much as possible so we can have a good season this year, better than last year.”
Montclair State | New Jersey