Photo by Austin Drucker ‘17
Forward Seth Hinrichs ‘15 described the season this way: “It is almost unreal to think how drastic the ups and downs have been.”
When it is all said and done and the final buzzer rings, the 2013-2014 season for the Lafayette men’s basketball team will be remembered as one wild, stomach dropping roller coaster ride.
It started with five straight losses, which then progressed into four consecutive victories. That final victory marked the end of winning for 44 days. Hinrichs was injured and by the time he returned, Lafayette (10-18 overall, 6-11 Patriot League) had nosedived into 11 straight losses and found itself dead last in Patriot League standings.
Now, this roller coaster has shifted its course and is moving steadily towards the top. The Leopards have won six of their last eight games and four straight overall before a 83-66 loss to Colgate on Wednesday to claw their way back and establish perhaps the most momentum in the league as the conference tournament commences on Monday.
“I don’t know if I have experienced something like this,” 19th year head coach Fran O’Hanlon said. “We have had so many streaks.”
Those streaks led to a wide range of emotions.
“When we were losing a lot, it was tough on us,” guard Bryce Scott ‘16 said. “But we never ever gave up on each other. We stuck with each other and just believed we would make a late run push.”
Especially tough were the final four losses of that streak, in which the average margin of loss was just four points.
“They always knew that they were very close,” O’Hanlon said. “I have not seen any hanging of the head. I think they have had a great attitude.”
Lafayette has displayed an ability to close in its recent victories.
“When you get healthy and healthier and you get all your bullets back you have a better chance,” O’Hanlon said. “We have won close games in that stretch where we were losing them in January.”
Wednesday though, the roller coaster took a downward turn. Colgate (11-17 overall, 5-12 Patriot League) shot 61.2 percent from the field and used a 20-5 first half run to break open the game. Lafayette shot just four of 21 from beyond the arc.
Patriot League Player of the Week Joey Ptasinski ‘15 scored just two points in the loss after averaging 19.5 points in the two victories last week.
With the addition of Boston University and Loyola University Maryland, the conference tournament has a new format. The last four seeds will be involved in play-in games on Monday night while the other six will receive byes to Wednesday.
All ten league members were in action on Wednesday night. Fortunately for Lafayette (10-18, 6-11 PL), Loyola Maryland (10-18, 5-12 PL) and Navy (9-19, 4-13 PL) also lost so the Leopards remain in seventh place, meaning they would host a play-in game against the 10-seed on Monday night in the Kirby Sports Center.
Boston University (21-9 overall, 13-3 Patriot League) and American University (17-11, 12-4 PL) both won to remain one and two respectively in the standings.
Prior to the loss to Colgate on Wednesday, O’Hanlon said, “What we’re trying to do is play well on the road. The way things are shaping up for us, to make any noise in the tournament, we will most likely have to play on the road.”
Lafayette has one last regular season game at Army (13-15, 9-8 PL) tomorrow. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m. The Leopards could fall to ninth place if they lose tomorrow and Colgate defeats Lehigh and Loyola beats Holy Cross.
Will the roller coaster head back upward towards a conference championship trophy? Scott thinks so.
“We really think we can do something special this year,” he said.