For his last game day feature on November 11, 2015, junior Michael Booth said his team was capable of winning the Atlantic 10 Championship and advancing to the NCAA Tournament.
Maybe Booth was predicting the future. Since then, the 2015-2016 Saint Joseph men’s basketball team did capture an A-10 Championship and advance to the NCAA Tournament.
No one believed in the team but themselves, Booth said. But that seemed to be a motivating factor for the team.
“It was the mentality we took,” Booth said. “I knew we would win.
“We all knew the first day the team met in the summer that it was a special team. I had a good feeling about it heading into the season. We had a good group of guys and some great players.”
As for this year, Booth wouldn’t say for certain the team will win the Atlantic 10. However, he is optimistic for the team this season.
“Last year we had a lot of older guys, so even though we are younger this year, we still have a lot of guys who came back from last year’s team,” Booth said. “They’ve been there and are being good leaders for the young guys.”
This season, the junior guard is showing his younger teammates that hard work pays off in the end. Winning the A-10 was hard work; in practices, Booth prepares the team in any way he can for game day.
“It takes hard work to win the A-10 title and advance to the NCAA Tournament,” Booth said. “If you don’t go hard in practice, you won’t go hard in a game.”
For Booth, getting ready for practices consists of watching film and studying opposing. And then trying to emulate upcoming opponents in practice against the starters. What the average fan doesn’t see is how Booth and other players on the scout team prepare the rotation guys, so for the scout team, practice is their moment.
“That’s our game,” Booth said. “That’s what we do to make the guys better. And it’s a lot of fun. We talk trash to our guys out there, try and get them ready for the upcoming game.”
When watching Hawk basketball game, you’ll most likely see Booth cheering his teammates on from the bench. Last year, Booth and Kyle Thompson were co-recipients of the team’s Daniel J. Cummins, Jr. Award for spirit. That is something Booth takes pride in.
“Last year Kyle and I were on the bench just going nuts,” Booth said. “We work to make them better in practice, and when we see them play great, it feels great seeing them succeed. We just try to bring the energy to them. We’re always cheering.”
For Booth, playing for the Saint Joseph’s men’s basketball team means more than just playing Division I basketball, and it has to do with his family.
His grandfather, Harry Booth, played and coached two sports at SJU: basketball and baseball. He is also a member of the SJU Athletics Hall of Fame. During his basketball career, he played for Jack Ramsay, won three MAC titles, and made three NCAA Tournament appearances. In 1974, he was hired to coach the basketball team and coached for four seasons.
“It feels great,” Booth said on playing for the same program his grandfather once did. “Ever since I was young, he told me how great the SJU basketball program was. And playing here, he’s proud of me.”
Family is one of the reasons Booth came to SJU. His family is able to come to most, if not all, of the Hawks’ home games.
Since he followed his grandfather’s footsteps in playing for the basketball program at SJU, the natural progression would be to coach at SJU, just like his grandfather.
“It’s in the back of my mind,” Booth said. “I would love to be a coach someday, but I’m going to take some time off and pursue my pharmaceutical marketing career. But, if I ever wanted to coach I would jump on it if the opportunity was there.”