COLUMBIA — Things clearly weren't going well for the Columbia College men's basketball team Tuesday night when they lost to a team they had recently beat by 54 points.
The Cougars lost 78-64 to the Lyon College Scots, whom they demolished at home on Nov. 7.
But Henrique Medeiros, the Cougars' senior point guard, said he won't let the team get down. Medeiros takes it upon himself to lighten the mood in the locker room and at practice.
"Sometimes you need to distract yourself," Medeiros said. "Especially when the moments are down like they are right now."
Medeiros, who is in his second year at Columbia College, said he felt comfortable with the Cougars early on after spending two years at Marshalltown Community College in Iowa. He credits his teammates for being able to fit in so easily.
Junior forward Hal Payne said it wasn't hard to welcome Medeiros.
"You can't hang around Henrique and not have a good time," Payne said.
Medeiros is listed at 6 feet tall, but admits he is only 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs about 165 pounds. Despite his slight build he has earned the respect of his teammates, and both Payne and coach Bob Burchard referred to Medeiros as the "bus driver" of the team.
Medeiros has many great qualities for a point guard, Burchard said. When Medeiros first visited Columbia College, Burchard said he was impressed with Medeiros' skill and understanding of the game. Those attributes alone interested the coach, but Medeiros surprised Burchard in other areas.
Because Medeiros, as the point guard, has the ball in his hands more than anyone else on the team, he must deal with mistakes that inevitably happen, Burchard said.
"It’s really nice when that person has a positive attitude. Just as negative attitudes are infectious, a positive outlook all the time is infectious," Burchard said. "It’s hard to quantify that. That doesn’t show up in the stats."
Medeiros understands the influence his attitude can have on the entire team.
"If I hang my head down, everybody is going to look at me, and they are going to hang their heads down, too," he said. "If I joke around, distract, laugh a little bit, maybe they are going to relax a little bit more."
Last season, Payne said he struggled for most of the year before having a good game and being written about in a newspaper report.
"Everything the writer quoted from Henrique, Henrique was saying nice things about me," Payne said, "He really wants to get the most out of other people."
The team travels to Fulton this weekend to play two games in the William Woods Invitational. The Cougars play Martin Methodist College at 6 p.m. Friday and Lindenwood University-Belleville at 2 p.m. Saturday.