The men’s bas­ketball team plays in the Blue-White Scrimmage on Nov. 17 (Courtesy | Hillsdale College Ath­letics)

After months of uncer­tainty, ever-changing COVID-19 restric­tions, and mul­tiple post­poned or can­celed games, the Hillsdale College men’s bas­ketball team is ready to start its season with a home game on Sat­urday.

At 3:00 p.m. this Sat­urday, the Chargers will begin their season against G‑MAC opponent Trevecca Nazarene Uni­versity, and they are more than ready to play.

“The prac­tices have been really intense, ener­getic and upbeat because we’re really just looking forward to playing,” senior forward Davis Larson said.

By no means, however, is the team over­looking the chal­lenge its first opponent poses.

“Trevecca’s got a large group back from last year’s team as well, so they con­tinue to get better and are cer­tainly a danger,” asso­ciate head coach Keven Bradley said.

This matchup will be the team’s home opener, fol­lowing the can­cel­lation of the game against Salem Uni­versity scheduled for last week, and the post­ponement of the game against Ken­tucky Wes­leyan Uni­versity orig­i­nally scheduled for this Thursday.

The COVID-19 restric­tions have forced a lot of changes and com­pli­ca­tions on the season, espe­cially now as Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s newest restric­tions.

“If you test pos­itive, you don’t have to get tested for 90 days because of the COVID-19 policy,” sophomore Cole Nau said. “But if you don’t test pos­itive within 90 days, you have to get tested six times a week.”

Even with all of the uncer­tainty sur­rounding this year’s season, the team knows it has to be ready for any changes that may come next.

“Our team’s got to be pre­pared for any­thing,” Nau said. “We’re gonna have some obstacles, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do, just play your hardest and work your hardest no matter what.”

Head coach John Tharp echoed this ready-for-any­thing men­tality, saying it will be a key to the team’s success.

“We’ve had so many dif­ferent things that have been can­celed on us, so we have to be ready to adjust and adapt to whatever cir­cum­stances that we’re gonna be in,” Tharp said. “We have to work as hard as we can with whatever group that we have, and that includes players and coaches, and go out there and compete and rep­resent the way we’ve tried to for a while now.”

The post­ponement of Thursday’s game against Ken­tucky Wes­leyan epit­o­mizes this ever-changing envi­ronment. The team was informed of the post­ponement only three days before they were scheduled to play.

“Both their men’s and women’s teams had an out­break of COVID, so we are rescheduled to play them on Dec. 31,” Tharp said. “I feel ter­rible for the guys but unfor­tu­nately it’s the world we’re living in, it’s hap­pening all over and we’ve got to prepare and go about our business like we’re getting ready to play, that’s the only thing I know how to do.”

The Charger’s game against Lake Erie, set for Dec. 12 has been can­celed as well. This week’s post­ponement, however, hit espe­cially hard for the team.

“With Wes­leyan, they beat us twice last year, and one of them was in the playoffs, so we all kind of had that game marked on the cal­endar.” Larson said.

As he broke the news to the team on Monday, Tharp shared their dis­ap­pointment, but looked right the ship.

“You can see in their eyes and their body lan­guage that they were dis­ap­pointed.” Tharp said. “But, as we keep telling them, that’s some­thing that’s not in our control, and I know we’re sad about it but we have to just prepare for Saturday’s game.”

Looking ahead, the team readies itself for an attempt to repeat as regular season G‑MAC cham­pions in a season that is far from regular.

“A lot of years, you have exhi­bition games, and you have non-con­ference games to prepare you for the con­ference season,” Larson said. “Now, though, every game matters, every week you’re trying to get two wins, so it’s almost like a do-or-die sit­u­ation, because you had no other prepa­ration, you’re just kind of thrown into the fire.”

As can­cel­la­tions mount, the players’ antic­i­pation only increases.

“Espe­cially of late, before Thanks­giving and right when we came back from break, prac­tices had been pretty intense,” Larson said. “I think all of us are super excited for the season to finally start, and to play someone else.”

With the start of the season finally on the doorstep, the Chargers are more than ready to get out on the court and compete with any and every opponent.

“It doesn’t matter who we’re playing against, I expect us to compete at a very, very high level.” Tharp said.