Warhawks start journey to top

Dakota Ratley

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Photo by Daniel RussellThe ULM men’s basketball team opened up with their first practice Friday in the Fant-Ewing Coliseum.

This year’s team features seven letter-winners, four of which are returning starters. The team also welcomes quite a few new faces.

Head Coach Keith Richard was just happy his team is healthy to start the year.

“It felt great today to start practice and start the season. What felt good about it was how many guys were out there. We have 3 teams out there. We haven’t had that since I’ve been here and that was nice.”

This year’s team features seven letter-winners, four of which are returning starters. The team also welcomes quite a few new faces.

One of those new faces is freshman Nick Copolla. He is excited about the prospects of this year’s team.

“ Just from watching them last year, that we have a chance to be nowhere near the bottom of the Sun Belt. Our athleticism and talent overall, we can make a run and see what happens.”

The team looks to improve on the 4-23 record from last year.

This year’s schedule includes non-conference trips to Kansas, Northwestern State, Louisiana State University, Ole Miss, and Ohio State.

The schedule also features non-conference visits from Samford, Thomas, and Louisiana Tech.

The Warhawks conference schedule slates games against the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, University of Texas at Arlington, Texas State, Troy, South Alabama, Western Kentucky, Georgia State, Arkansas State, and University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Richard does not shy away from the challenge of improving from the past few years.

“We finished last in the league the past three years, I’d like to not finish last. I think this team can do it too. I think we’ve improved depth wise, athleticism wise, and I think they’ll improve within the league. That’s the goal.”

Richard is entering his fourth year at ULM, compiling a 14-73 record over the course of his tenure.

He has been an integral part of changing the academic outlook of the program. Sanctions have been lifted from the program due to an increase of the Academic Progress Rate over the past three seasons.

Copolla feels that teamwork will be a strength for the Warhawks this season.

“At this point in the first practice, how well we’re playing together. There’s not a lot of selfishness, everyone is moving the ball, no ones really just thinking about themselves.”