For Emerson, success will come from the juxtaposition of tenacity and talent.
“We’ll fight like twenty armies and we won’t give up” may be the profound lyrics of Broadway musical, Les Miserables, but they sure sound like the anthem of Emerson College basketball player, Michael Lucas.
The song titled Little People embodies the spirit and charisma of a humble, seemingly insignificant boy named Gavroche. Despite his physical appearance, his wit and courage stand tall enough to unite the people of Paris. Next year, Lucas will be to Emerson basketball whatGavroche is to Paris’s revolution.
Lucas will return to the team as a junior next season. With another year under his belt, the guard will have to guide the team through one of the most difficult transitions in the history of Emerson College athletics. That transition is switching from the Great Northeast Athletic Conference to the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference.
Standing at a humble 5’9 and averaging less than ten minutes per game, Lucas may not receive the most valuable player award, but as he has repeatedly proven, pure talent does not trump heart. The lack of playing time that would make most players bitter conversely leaves Lucas with a unique sense of enthusiasm. When describing the Lions loss to St. Joseph’s of Maine Lucas lightheartedly explained, “I can tell you exactly what happened. I was sitting onthe bench watching the whole thing.”
It took a while but the Lions finally strung a few victories together. The entered the GNAC playoffs this year riding a six game winning streak, landing them home court advantage. Emerson basketball had the potential to be a legitimate conference competitor, but being an art driven school, it is no wonder they seem to have a flare for the dramatic. Just when you think they have got the game in the bag, the curtain seems to drop in preparation for a morbid act two.
In the first round of the GNAC playoffs the were ahead by 15 points going into the second half and they categorically blew it. The men should have put the nails in the coffin and told St. Joseph’s to have a nice bus ride hope and pray to do better next year. Sadly, none of that happened. And frankly, if that is the case next year it is going to be a long season for the Lions.
Changing conferences will not be easy for the Lions. The NEWMAC consists of bigger schools, higher quality of play and a new level of intensity Emerson has not seen before. This is a challenge that Lucas not only acknowledges, but welcomes. When asked about his predictions for next season Lucas replied, “Our continuity is going to get better. Our team chemistry is going to get better.” Although he spoke at length about the immense skill difference between the two conferences, Lucas welcomes the challenge and is keeping his eye on the silver lining. “If we can establish ourselves in the NEWMAC we will establish ourselves as a National Division 3 basketball powerhouse.”
My analysis might be bold. Comparing a street boy who fearlessly joins a revolution to Emerson basketball is quite the assessment. But to athletes like Mike Lucas, this is what playing the game is all about. Skill and size do not drive an athlete. The heart drives an athlete. Mike Lucas may not be the tallest guard on Emerson basketball. He might not even touch the ball some games. But his attitude, work ethic and dedication will just be as important to the team’s success as their starting line up when they enter the NEWMAC next November.