Men’s basketball team stays motivated despite season cancellation

The Framingham men’s basketball team had hopes of playing their 2020-21 season but COVID-19 restrictions kept them off the court.

Senior Jared Gordon-Anderson and Juniors Tomas Donoyan and Tajahn Joyner were eager to move back on campus for another chance to play, but despite the anticipated season’s cancellation, the news was still difficult to accept.

“I went to live on campus and have online classes because I thought we were going to be able to play,” Donoyan said. “But a couple weeks in with the regulations and having to reserve gym time, I knew it wasn’t going to work out – but there was nothing we could do.”

Gordon-Anderson graduated from Framingham High School and joined the FSU team ready to prove himself to his teammates and coach.

“I played basketball and hockey all throughout elementary school,” Gordon-Anderson said. “Going into middle school, both were winter sports so I had to pick one and from then on, it’s been basketball.”

Gordon-Anderson ended his final season scoring an overall 209 points, with 40 steals, 14 blocks, and 70 assists.

Joyner is originally from Amherst and has been involved in the sport since before he learned to walk.

“I grew up playing basketball and football,” Joyner said. “I was better at football but I’ve always liked basketball more – it was more fun.”

Joyner finished his 2019-20 season with 84 assists, 107 rebounds, 39 steals, and scored a total of 186 points.

Donoyan came to FSU after graduating from Belmont High School and has been playing basketball since early elementary school.

He scored a total of 48 points, with 7 blocks, 15 steals, and 19 assists for his overall 2019-20 season.

While the decision to cancel winter sports was still up in the air, the option to practice was still a difficult task for the team.

“We were told to treat each practice as if we were still going to play,” Donoyan said. “But there were certain drills we couldn’t do. It was all individual work. At that point, everyone knew if we couldn’t practice with each other, we wouldn’t be able to play against another team.”

Although they’re saddened they won’t get to prove their talent on the court, Head Coach Bill Raynor keeps the team motivated and hungry to play for next season.

The men reflected on the lessons Raynor displays to the team both on and off the court.

“Something he says all the time is that he loves competition, and if you don’t compete, you aren’t playing,” Donoyan said. “Whatever obstacle you got in front of you, if you compete, even if you might not win in the end, someone is going to notice.

“He’s the type of person who isn’t satisfied with anything but your best,” Donoyan added. 

“Freshman year I was cutting it real close to being able to play, and he kept it real with me and told me if this is what I wanted, I need to try harder and buckle down,” Joyner said. “Throughout the years, he never gave up on me and still hasn’t.”

Gordon-Anderson said, “He related basketball to real life, always saying there is an opportunity knocking and we could either embrace them or shut them off.

“He advocates nothing good comes easy – you have to make yourself uncomfortable,” he added.

The men had some advice for upcoming teammates having experienced both the chance to play and having a season taken from them.

Joyner said, “I’m a firm believer everything happens for a reason. So, I would say to just stick with it.”

“It’s the will to keep going when times are rough,” Donoyan said. “Keep working no matter what each practice or game gives you, anything can change the next day.”

Gordon-Anderson said, “Try and get the best out of each other. Everyone has something to bring to the team and you just have to get the confidence out and push them.”