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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Men’s Basketball 2021 Season Preview

Sophomore guard/forward Jordan Hall launches a three against George Mason University last season. PHOTO: MITCHELL SHIELDS ’22/THE HAWK
Men’s team embracing competitive mindset

The 2021-22 season may be the year that the pieces start to come together for Billy Lange and his team.

In his first two seasons as the head coach of the St. Joe’s men’s basketball program, Lange has garnered a record of 11-41. According to Lange, there were just three players on the roster when he accepted the job on Hawk Hill. Despite this, Lange never saw his roster as a rebuilding project.

“When I took the position here at St. Joe’s, it was an honor and a blessing,” Lange said at Atlantic 10 Media Day on Oct. 27. “And it still is. So whatever was in front of me, I signed up for it.”

Lange said that one area of the team that is different than in years past is the height increase. The Hawks added plenty of height with 6-foot-8-inch first-year guard/forward Kacper Klaczek, 7-foot sophomore forward/center Charles Coleman, and 6-foot-10-inch fifth-year forward Ejike Obinna.

“I think the height shows itself in areas that are evident,” Lange said. “Whether it is the ability to contest a shot above the rim, the ability to close out and contest a shot that’s on a three-point line, or getting off your own shots.”

According to Lange, it is important for the coaching staff to use the physical attributes of their players as best they can.

“Whether those attributes turn out to be beneficial for us, only time will tell,” Lange said. “But it’s evident in our gym that we have more size all around, whether it’s toe to top of the head or fingertip to fingertip.”

Newcomers are not the only assets available to the team. Returning for the Hawks is sophomore guard/forward Jordan Hall. Hall entered the transfer portal this past offseason and originally planned on playing for Texas A&M University, however, he decided to return to Hawk Hill. According to Hall, he was welcomed back by his coaches and teammates with open arms.

“I just think this is where the shoe fit for me.” Hall said at media day. “I thought at the time it was the right decision to explore other options, but with time and me talking to people, the best decision was to come back.”

Upon returning to Hawk Hill, Hall noticed a change in focus and energy brought on by the new additions to the team.

“The two bigs, Charles and Ejike, they open up a lot for us.” Hall said. “We got the two freshmen Erik [Reynolds] and Kacper, Erik’s speed helps me get off the ball.” According to redshirt senior forward Taylor Funk, the new players take a lot of the pressure off of last year’s key contributors, including Hall.

“I think they are really gonna showcase Jordan’s game a lot more than it already has been, just with his passing ability,” Funk said at media day. Funk said there is a lot of positive energy in practice so far this year, and that this group is excited to compete together.

“I just think everyone’s very hungry,” Funk said. “Bringing these new players in here just shows the competitive nature every single day in practice.”

Lange said the competitive nature of this year’s team is what stands out from practice so far this year.

“We have a lot of guys that are fighting for minutes,” Lange said. “To me the thing that’s been the most inspiring has been the
competition level.”

According to Lange, the difficulty of last year has made this year’s team tougher, gritier and ultimately, better.

“I believe that when we step on that floor, you’re going to have to kill us to beat us,” Lange said.

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