The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Men’s basketball drops season opener against St. Joseph’s

Sophomore guard Ryan Pettit prepares to pass the ball against St. Joseph’s. (Photo by George Varkanis for GoLeopards)

The 2023-2024 campaign got off to a rocky start for the men’s basketball team (0-1 overall), as the Leopards dropped their season opener to Saint Joseph’s on Monday by a score of 81-60. 

In its first full season under head coach Mike McGarvey the team is seeking to replicate its success from last year. As interim head coach, McGarvey led the Leopards to a Patriot League Championship appearance last year in which they fell to Colgate.

According to McGarvey, the transition to a full-time position has been both exciting and motivating.

Working with the staff and players throughout the preseason has been fun,” McGarvey wrote in an email. “Being so close to March Madness has certainly served as motivation for us to return to that stage.”

Junior guard Devin Hines said that McGarvey has been integral to the team coming together.

“He pushes us hard every day, and expects us to push each other as well,” Hines wrote in an email. “He’s also very family-oriented and has connected us strongly.”

The team looks very different this year with last year’s team point leader, forward Leo O’Boyle, deciding to take his fifth year at Penn State. Josh Rivera, who made All-Rookie team selection and led the team in field goals, and CJ Fulton, who led the Leopards in assists and steals, both transferred as well.

The game got off to a fast start as Saint Joseph’s connected on a three-point shot on its first possession. The Maroon and White then went on a 5-0 run courtesy of Hines, giving them their first and only lead of the evening. 

The Leopards kept the game within one score for the first ten minutes. However, the Hawks would put up a 9-0 run over the next three minutes, giving them a 10-point advantage with six minutes left in the half.

Senior guard Jon Brantley and junior center Justin Vander Baan then each converted on shots to cut the lead in half, helping the Leopards close back in on a three-point deficit at halftime with a score of 38-35. McGarvey wrote that he “liked a lot” about the first half.

“We saw many stretches where we competed at a high level defensively and offensively,” McGarvey wrote. “We showed we can be a great team when we play together.”

The second half was not as strong for the Maroon and White. Saint Joseph’s exploded out of the break on a 13-2 run in the first four minutes of play giving them a 51-37 lead. The Leopards would never regain their footing as the Hawks retained a double-digit lead for the rest of the contest.

“We need to communicate better on the court,” Hines said. “[McGarvey] has gotten on us for communicating, and if we can fix that we can be a lot better.”

McGarvey also gave a diagnosis of the team’s shortcomings on Monday.

“We needed to show more poise to chip away at that lead,” McGarvey wrote. “Additionally, we need to be better at cutting off the ball, limiting turnovers, and transition defense moving forward.”

Lafayette shot 37 percent from the field compared to 46 percent from Saint Joseph’s. Hines was the leading scorer for the Leopards with 15 points and Vander Baan added four blocks, tying his career high. 

The team will travel to Los Angeles for a two-game stretch this weekend, which they will kick off on Friday versus UCLA. Both Hines and McGarvey highlighted the importance of getting back on track during the trip.

“UCLA presents a challenge with their front court physicality,” McGarvey wrote. “We need to limit their rebounds and work to get good shots to win. Pepperdine will be faster-paced. Team defense and offensive execution should give us the opportunity to win that game.” 

View Comments (3)
About the Contributor
Dan Sullivan
Dan Sullivan, Staff Sports Writer

Comments (3)

If you wish for your response to an article to be submitted as a letter to the editor, please email [email protected].
All Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • J

    JennyNov 11, 2023 at 7:13 pm

    That’s my orientee!!

  • S

    StacyNov 10, 2023 at 12:11 pm

    Excellent writing!

  • D

    Dan TeodorescuNov 10, 2023 at 10:24 am

    This article makes me feel all warm and squishy