The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Basketball 2022-23 season preview

Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams will begin their season on Monday. (Photo by Rick Smith for GoLeopards)

The Lafayette men’s basketball team is in unfamiliar territory. For the first time since 1995, the team will begin its season without legendary coach Fran O’Hanlon at the helm. Head Coach Mike Jordan, who was hired last March after O’Hanlon’s retirement, will lead the youngest team in the Patriot League with only one senior, forward Leo O’Boyle, listed on the roster.

“We gotta teach, even the veteran guys, how we want to play in our style, and [about] our philosophies,” Jordan said. “It’s been a struggle a little bit, with the guys trying to adapt to something new. Change is always difficult. But if you continue to work at it, and our guys have been working every day – they’re in the gym, they’re watching film and we’re trying to figure it out – that’s a positive.”

After going 10-20 last season and finishing 6th in the Patriot League, the team is looking for young talent to replace the three graduated seniors as well as their All Patriot League center Neal Quinn, who transferred to Richmond in April.

“I think we are excited to get the season started and see all our hard work be put into effect,” junior guard Ryan Zambie said. “Though the season starts Monday, we have been preparing rigorously for months and I think our level of work during that period gives us confidence as we head into the season.”

Jordan is joined by coaches who have a history of winning. The current Associate Head Coach for the Leopards, Mike McGarvey, left Colgate, where Jordan was an assistant coach, to become head coach at Lycoming College in 2018. There, he took his team to the conference championship every year, winning twice.

“We are going to compete. We’re going to play hard as we possibly can. Because I won’t settle for less than that … And we’re gonna play together,” Jordan said.

There is a renewed sense of passion this year among not only the new coaching staff but the players. A lot of that can be attributed to Jordan’s high-energy coaching style.

“Coach Jordan brings a passion and competitive spirit towards the game that rubs off on everybody that is around him. He is a winner and cultivates an environment that is centered on winning in all facets. I would say the most notable change is the energy around the program,” Zambie said. “With Coach Jordan, we get after it everyday and there is just an all around sense of grit and competitiveness that we lacked in the past. Alongside this competitive spirit is an unparalleled attention to detail that is stressed in everything we do.”

The men will travel to Florida this Monday to open the season against the University of Miami Hurricanes.

“I’m absolutely excited about it,” Jordan said. “This is a good time to play a team like that before they can gel and get everything that they want to do as well. It’ll be an interesting, interesting game for sure.”

The women’s team, which is returning from a 7-11 Patriot League record last year that landed them 7th out of 10 in the standings, also has high hopes for their season.

Lafayette returns three starters, including sophomore guard and Patriot League All-Rookie Team member Abby Antognoli and senior guard Jessica Booth, who was named Third Team All-Patriot League. The team graduated senior forwards Naomi Ganpo and Makaila Wilson along with guard Nicole Johnson. This has left the team lacking in age and experience, but Booth wrote that the team is using this as motivation rather than as an excuse.

“Our lowerclassmen exude confidence and maturity so I know that overcoming our youth is something we are very capable of doing,” Booth wrote.

Antognoli said that the team has honed its craft on both sides of the court. While is is transitioning to a more open offense instead of one that relies on set plays, on defense it is focused on  getting rebounds.

The Leopards will open their season against Virginia Commonwealth University this Monday before playing an away game against NJIT on Nov. 11 and a home game against East Tennessee State on Nov. 13. 

The Leopards will take on 8 more non-league opponents before entering Patriot League play on Dec. 30 against American University. Among these non-league foes will be AAC (Atlantic Athletic Conference) opponent Notre Dame, who the Leopards will face for the first time in school history on Dec. 8.

“Undoubtedly Notre Dame will be our toughest competitor this season, but we look forward to the challenge and getting to see where we stand against a top 25 team,” Booth wrote. “The Patriot League as a conference will be extremely competitive once again this year, but we know that Boston University will prove to be a tough challenge just as they have been in the past couple of years.”

The Leopards will take on Boston University on Jan. 5.

“I think that there’s a lot of opportunity for us to compete in the league,” Antognoli said. “If we commit to doing the little things and talking on defense and playing together now, we’ll be pretty well off in league play.”

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About the Contributors
Caroline McParland
Caroline McParland, Sports Editor
Charlie Berman
Charlie Berman, Sports Editor

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