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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

Gaining new leadership

Graphic+by+Kaitlyn+Patterson+20.
Graphic by Kaitlyn Patterson ’20.

Club basketball finds success without a coach  

With a heartbreaking loss to Princeton University in the regional semifinal last weekend, the St. Joe’s club basketball team ended its first player-coached season with its highest finish in recent history.

Coached by senior captain Brooks Lloyd, the club basketball team is comprised of St. Joe’s students with experience playing basketball at a competitive level.

They play throughout the fall and spring semesters and primarily face off against other local club teams in their conference, which includes the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, University of Delaware, Neumann University and Rowan University.

However, with the departure of their former coach just before the beginning of the year, the players were tasked with managing themselves with Lloyd at the helm.

“I would say that being a player coach is a little bit more difficult,” Lloyd said. “In game situations, you’re trying to focus on both things. Being on the floor, you’re usually just thinking about your own play. Now I’m responsible for everyone’s play as well as managing the game.”

The team has had a paid coach in the past, but due to funding cuts, they transitioned to a player coached team this year. About 50 percent of the teams St. Joe’s takes on are also led by students, Lloyd said. As a captain, Lloyd volunteered to fill the role with the help of two other co-captains.

While he admitted to a changing role in game situations, Lloyd’s position brought its most unexpected challenges off the court. He had to shift his focus from simply playing, to now being tasked with running day to day operations.

“Going into the year, we thought we were going to have a coach so we had to figure something out before the season started,” Lloyd said. “As a player-coach, I stepped into that role and had different responsibilities. Scheduling the week was hard. I had to get gym time, schedule games, and get referees for games. I also had to run tryouts and make cuts, which wasn’t easy.”

Having a player as a coach brings a different dynamic to the team and the game as a whole. It is one that the players themselves seem to prefer. Junior captain Jake Milligan, who has played on the team since his freshman year, saw a difference in the team this year with the players leading the way.

“This is actually the first year we have been player coached and this is the farthest we have made it in the regional tournament,” Milligan said.

Lloyd agreed, pointing to the team’s chemistry as a differentiating factor in their success.

“I think a lot of our success this year is because we are a player led team,” Lloyd said. “The team is much closer as a group now and we can come together to make decisions in the team’s best interest.”

Club sports offer a competitive alternative for athletes who want to continue playing their sport at a high level and continue to develop their skills. The basketball team follows the tradition of the varsity team and is one of the most select clubs on campus.

“The majority of our team has varsity experience,” Milligan said. “But that’s not to say that you can’t play if you didn’t play in high school.”

Milligan himself is one of the few players on the team that didn’t play on his school’s high school team.

“I didn’t play basketball in high school,” Milligan said. “But I tried out the fall of my freshman year and now I am a starter on the team. Playing club basketball has helped me learn how to play real basketball. There is so much more to basketball than what you do in pick-up games, and that’s something I’ve learned through club.”

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