The men's basketball captain caught up with The Argus upon his return from a long stint on the sidelines with an MCL tear

After a season-opening loss, men’s basketball had strung together five straight wins heading into Saturday’s NESCAC opener at Williams. Williams, undefeated going into the game, is a perennial powerhouse and an important litmus test to see if a repeat NESCAC championship is really in sight for the Cardinals. After a back and forth affair, BJ Davis ’16 hit a floater with a second left on the clock to secure a 58-56 Wesleyan victory. Though Davis’ elite play has largely nullified the team’s weaknesses, they have been hampered by an injury to captain Jack Mackey ’16. Mackey set the school record for three pointers in a season last year, and his contributions on both ends of the floor have been missed. The Argus sat down with Mackey to talk about basketball, injuries, and his love for Wesleyan.

The Argus: Let’s talk a bit about what you’re passionate about off the court.

Jack Mackey: Well, I’m an econ major. I’m one class away from an art history minor that I think I’m gonna complete next semester. I’m really big into art, didn’t really know that until I got to Wesleyan, I would’ve loved to double with a studio art major but that’s not really possible with a full academic and athletic workload. Other than that, I’m usually just at the house watching games or hanging with my roommates. I love making art, I’m a big movie buff, and basketball fills in most of the rest of those gaps.

A: You’ve been injured recently. Can you talk about how you’ve been dealing with that mentally?

JM: It’s definitely frustrating. I devoted my whole summer to basketball, I was traveling all over the country playing with different people, and then I ended up tearing the MCL in my elbow at the end of the summer which knocked me back four months. The timetable for that ended right when the season started, so I was able to practice on maybe the fourth day, but I went in knowing I would be raw and rusty. I started feeling good and then did something to my hip, which put me out another few games. I’d never missed a game before in my career, high school or college, and I sat out two games for the first time, so that was frustrating. But I understand it’s part of a process, and it’s a long season. The big games are NESCAC play which is towards the end of the season, so I understand I have time to get my feet back under me.

A: Why is BJ, in your opinion, the best player in the NESCAC?

JM: He’s just so dynamic, and from a sheer athleticism standpoint he’s just the fastest player in the NESCAC. He can score the ball in a lot of different ways. He can shoot, even though I don’t think his jumpshot is particularly pretty, he can get to the basket on anyone, he finishes well through contact, he has a great pull up game, he’s so good at getting out on the break and reading how defenses guard him. It’s a game of pick your poison with him. He’s a special type of player that I don’t think the NESCAC sees all the time.

A: Can you describe how the team reacted after he hit the game winner at Williams?

JM: I brought it over the half and called timeout, so we talked about it in the huddle and Coach said to Joseph [Kuo ’17], “After we make this, I’m jumping on your back and riding you out of the gym.” BJ shot it, it went down, but there were .9 seconds so we had to get back on defense but as soon as the horn sounded we rushed the court, our coach jumped up in the air and Joseph caught him on his back and they started riding around the gym. But, you know, they stopped and we shook [Williams’] hands and said good game, but the celebration was nuts. It’s all about that moment when you win and see all the dividends of your hard work.

A: Obviously you guys want to win NESCAC. Other than that, what would you say your end goals are for this season?

JM: We have a big talk in the beginning of the year about our goals, and then we put them to rest and take it day by day, that’s just how we operate. But at the beginning of the year we talked about wanting to repeat as NESCAC, we want to win the Little Three, and we want to make a run at the national title. With how strong the NESCAC is, if you can win the NESCAC you can win it all, so for us those are the big three in terms of championships. It would be great for us to win the Little Three because Amherst and Williams have always been such a thorn in our side. Wesleyan used to kind of be the walkover game, but now that we’re starting to win they have to take us seriously. It finally starts to feel like the momentum is shifting a bit.

A: Why Wesleyan?

JM: I always knew I wanted to stay in the Northeast, and obviously that I wanted to play basketball and use basketball as a vehicle to get to the best school I could go to. I got looked at by Williams and Amherst and a few Ivies and things like that, but something about Wesleyan just stood out to me when I visited. All those other schools seemed like you were signing up to be a part of their system instead of vice versa, like you were coming in to help their reputation instead of coming in to flourish as a person. To be completely honest, when I first looked here, I loved the basketball aspect but was kind of nervous about the school side and the student culture, but when I got here I fell in love with the whole Wesleyan feel. I’ve taken on a bunch of things on campus I never thought I’d do, like drawing classes, I was in Burlesque last year, and I’ve done all these weird unique things that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do at some other places. I would say I was very nervous coming here for all of those reasons, but they ended up being why I fell in love with the place.

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