Rebecca Kiss/Assistant Photography Editor

For the Binghamton men’s basketball team, the 2016-17 season was one marred with injuries, most notably a season-ending tricep injury sustained by redshirt junior guard J.C. Show. However, with Show’s return, the Bearcats enter the 2017-18 season with a rejuvenated sense of optimism.

“It means everything [to have Show back]; he’s our rock,” said BU head coach Tommy Dempsey. “The players have a different boost and pep in their step knowing that he’s back. Being optimistic is a real advantage; he’s part of the reason that we’re very optimistic.”

Show burst onto the scene last season in his first year of eligibility at Binghamton. The Bucknell transfer dominated box scores in his first three games as a Bearcat, averaging 23 points and six rebounds in that span. As the year progressed, however, Show began wearing an arm sleeve due to discomfort, and eventually was declared out for the season with a torn tricep after just 12 games. Show’s injury, coupled with senior forward Willie Rodriguez’s struggle to return from a hamstring injury, left BU severely lacking offensive weapons.

“They really only played one game together,” Dempsey said. “To go through 32 games and only [find] one game where J.C. and Willie played together, that’s frustrating.”

Additionally, following the graduation of guards Marlon Beck and John Rinaldi, the Bearcats’ locker room needed a new voice following a 12-20 overall record this past year. Now in his third year at Binghamton, Show’s positive demeanor may vault him into that role.

“Marlon was a guy that was looked up to in the locker room, same with John Rinaldi as well,” Show said. “Guys have had to step up and be additional voices in the locker room … we’re all growing together.”

Following a down year, the Bearcats have worked to redevelop their mentality and identity as a team. With only two departures from last year’s roster, Binghamton’s roster is now laden with 12 upperclassmen, bolstering the team’s experience and mentality overall.

“We’ve been talking about what we want to be about from an everyday perspective,” Show said. “The thing that coach Dempsey has been talking to us about is there’s three things that we can always control. That’s our attitude, our effort and our energy.”

Show’s rehab process was lengthy and convoluted, but it ultimately served as not only a period in which Show returned to full health, but also as one which brought the team together. Upon Show’s return to full medical clearance this summer, the Bearcats were able to further develop their chemistry as a team in four exhibition games at various Canadian universities.

“[My teammates are] always picking me up, giving me a piece of encouragement here and there throughout the rehab process,” Show said. “I fed off of their energy and they’ve been great … being together over the summer, the chemistry has really developed between us. As a team, we’ve grown both on and off the court, and we’re very excited to see how that’s going to impact our games this year.”

The debut of power-duo Show and Rodriguez on the court could provide an imperative spark to the Bearcats’ offense. Their ability to score in isolation and within set plays should help facilitate the roles of other players. Both named as third-team selections to the America East Preseason All-Conference Teams, the tandem look to improve an offense that ranked seventh in the conference in offensive efficiency.

With a majority of their core returning, the Bearcats are aiming to put a lost season behind them and embark upon their current campaign with a fresh mindset. Show’s focus exemplifies the team’s mentality as an opening matchup with Morgan State approaches.

“Regardless of how last year ended for me personally, we’re all very excited for the start of a new season,” Show said. “The excitement is on another level regardless of what happened last year and how last year ended. We’re looking forward to getting out there to play against Morgan State.”