The 2023-2024 Keene State men’s basketball season is here. The men’s basketball team had their first game of the season on Saturday, Nov. 11. The final score was 105-69 in favor of Keene.
According to the men’s basketball coach, David Hastings, “Every season is different. Even though you are a returning player, everything about your season will change based on how another team will play you.” Hastings plans on having a similar season as last year based on the hard work that each player puts into the game. “The outcome is based on a lot of variables. It can be both positive and negative in any game,” Hastings said.
The assistant coach, Nate Stitchell, also had thoughts about the new season. “I feel good about the season. I think with a lot of guys that returned, some guys that didn’t play last year, some of the freshmen, some of the transfers were all in a good spot,” said Stitchell. He also mentioned trying to transfer the success from last season over to the new season.
Last year, the men’s basketball team ended their season with a record of 28-2. They won all 16 of their conference games and became Little East Conference (LEC) Champions on Feb. 25 against Western Connecticut. The score was 83-79 in overtime. The team made it all the way to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament. The team lost 82-58 against Swarthmore, Pennsylvania to finish the 2022-2023 season. This was the eighth time that the Keene men’s basketball program made it into the NCAA tournament.
Due to the success of last season, the team is ranked fourth in the country according to D3hoops.com’s preseason top-25 poll. The key players for Keene are a fifth-year captain, Jeff Hunter, and a senior captain, Octavio Brito. According to the Keene State Sentinel, “Returning D3hoops.com and National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) all-Americans Jeff Hunter and Octavio Brito each have been tabbed as preseason all-Americans by D3Hoops this season.”
Last year, Hunter scored a total of 235 field goals (baskets scored on any shot) with 284 attempts. Hunter also had a total of 409 rebounds. The Keene Sentinel mentioned that Hunter “..was a second-team selection by D3hoops and a first-team selection by the NABC last season after leading all of Division III in double-doubles with 24.” The Keene Sentinel also said that Hunter is third in rebounds and third in blocks throughout Division III.
Brito scored a total of 227 field goals with 479 attempts while also having a total of 201 rebounds. The Keene Sentinel said, “He is just 24 points away from becoming the 39th member of KSC’s 1,000-point club and is pacing to become the third Owl to reach 2,000-career points.”
After the first game of the 2023-2024 season, Brito reached 1,000 career points and Hunter reached 1,000 career rebounds. Coach Hastings got his first career win as a collegiate head coach.
To prepare for a new season, Hastings said, “Being the head coach now is hugely different in the sense of all the additional duties that I took on since being the associate head coach. But I’ve just changed certain aspects of what we did … One of the changings in our team will be the speed in which we play.”
Stitchell mentioned that the players are preparing for the new season as well. “Just staying in the gym, staying in the weight room, taking care of their bodies … You always see guys in there getting shots up, just putting in the extra work,” Stitchell said. After the first game of the 2023-2024 season, Stitchell said there is more work to be done. “From our standpoint, I feel pretty good, there are some things that I think we all know we could do better if we want to be that championship team we all talk about … I think practice is going to help with that,” he said.
When Hastings was asked how he felt about the season coming up, he responded, “I think it’s an exciting time for both Keene State and the Keene State Men’s Basketball. We have so many returning players that have a lot of experience.” Hastings also mentioned that he wants the team to stay healthy and continue to work hard, the main goal being “everybody having the best experience possible.”
Elyse Picard can be contacted at