The Sacred Heart University (SHU) men’s basketball team kicked off its 2023-2024 season this week. This relatively older team features eight graduate students. Despite this surplus of older players, there is a freshman heading into his first season who took an unconventional route in his journey to SHU.
Daniel Bublil, a freshman at SHU, is from Ra’anana, Israel. His journey brought him from Israel, to IMG academy prep school in Florida, to his first season here at SHU.
“It was an opportunity that just came up and IMG was a great place to do it,” said Bublil. “My parents trusted in their system, and it just worked out going to Sacred Heart.”
Bublil is arriving at SHU at an exciting time, with the men’s team being picked as the favorite to win the Northeastern Conference (NEC) this year.
“This is probably the biggest expectation that Sacred Heart men’s basketball has had in maybe 20 years,” said head coach Anthony Latina. “We got to take advantage of that and part of us has to do our jobs and part of us is hoping everyone’s right.” A freshman coming to a program with such expectations is no easy task.
The game of basketball is played differently in the United States and the physicality of the game only increases as you enter higher levels of play.
“The difference between college and younger groups is the physicality and the speed of the game,” said Bublil. “In Israel it’s more of a team game and more moving the ball and here it’s more of an isolation game but at the same time you have to play with your team.”
Being the young guy on an older team can come with benefits. Older players, such as senior Mike Sixsmith, embrace the mentor role that comes with being a veteran.
“I always try and take on the mentoring role, especially to the people who don’t really know how to play college basketball yet with the physicality and what it takes to play the game, so it’s usually good to coach them up a little bit,” said Sixsmith.
This kind of leadership is appreciated by younger players such as Bublil.
“I’ve actually enjoyed it a lot,” said Bublil. “It’s a lot of being on the sideline and just taking in information from the older guys. It’s sort of like being a sponge and just taking everything in and then knowing your opportunity will come eventually.”
Hard work and dedication have led to visible improvements in all facets of Bublil’s game.
“He’s getting a lot more comfortable and that’s huge for your first year in college,” said Sixsmith. “He is active with everybody on the team, his shot is getting better, and he is getting more confidence as a person.”
Through all the hype surrounding this team and all the adjustments to college, it is shaping up to be an exciting season for Bublil.
“I’m very excited, I’ve worked for this for a very long time and it’s a dream come true,” said Bublil. “I’m looking forward to having a great season.”
Bublil and the rest of the men’s team travel to Iona University to take on the Gaels on Friday, Nov. 10.
Sacred Heart Athletics contributed to this article.