CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Queens University men’s basketball is dominating in its first season as a Division I program.

“The thing that we wanted our players to believe was that they belong at this level,” said Royals head coach Grant Leonard. 

The Royals returned nine of its top 11 players from last season and they have led the program to an 11-4 start with a perfect 5-0 record at home.

“We didn’t recruit over them.  We recruited some freshman [but] the biggest thing is that we wanted those nine of 11 to feel like they were this level [of] player, and they have more than accomplished that.”

The Royals stunned in their season opener at Curry Arena when they erased an 11-point deficit to come back and defeat Marshall 83-82 on a Kenny Dye floater with nine seconds left in the game.

“We’re just resilient,” said Dye who recently appeared in his 136th game as a Royal and became the new all-time leader in games played. 

“Our motto is ‘embrace adversity.’  We just don’t give up.  We got a lot of dogs  on our team who just fight, fight, fight, and I think you just see that in some of our come-back games this year.”

In their last home game, the Royals came back from a 16-point deficit to defeat Austin Peay 81-87.

“We don’t like to be embarrassed.  We like to be competitive and we thrive off of that so every game we go in and just try to be competitive and do what we do.”

The Royals are on a mission to prove that they can do what everyone else at this level can do.

“Everybody puts their pants on the same way.  One leg at a time,” said Royals sophomore guard, AJ McKee.  “We just thrive off that and we like being the underdog.  Being the underdogs to us is what gives us our energy and just our passion to play the game how we play it.”

Leonard is in his 10th season at Queens and he’s never seen a group like this one.

“This group, more than any group I’ve ever coached, has an unbelievable competitive spirit.  We’ve had more talented teams here at Queens, but we’ve never had a group like this where their will to win is the highest I’ve ever seen.”

Queens is back in action on Thursday, January 5th opening the new year on the road at Bellarmine.