This week the Review sat down with men’s basketball co-captains, juniors Emmanuel Lewis and Geoff Simpson and senior Andrew Fox. The three discussed developments in the program, team chemistry and personal hygiene.
What has been your favorite thing about playing basketball at Oberlin? Least favorite?
AF: Least favorite has to be the losses. [Laughs.]
EL: We’ve taken way too many losses. The team has probably been the best thing. I really like the group of guys this year. We’ve made big improvements. Hopefully tonight we’ll get another win and make the conference tournament. That would definitely be the best thing.
How has the team changed since you first started playing here?
GS: When I first got here, the team was kind of divided into different factions or groups within the team. I think that we’ve built to the point now where we have more or less one group. It’s helpful when everyone can listen to one voice and everyone respects that same voice, whereas before we kind of had groups where certain guys would respect what one person said but another they wouldn’t really listen to. That cohesiveness that we’ve gotten over the years is really important.
EL: In addition to that, as a group we are a lot more invested than we have been in the past. The whole team is into it together and that’s really important.
AF: We also had a change in assistant coaches.
GS: Yeah, definitely a positive effect. Our new assistant coach’s name is Timothy McCrory. He played Division I basketball in the NCAA tournament, so he brings a lot of experience. Plus he’s closer to our age, so he’s easy to relate to. It’s easy to go into the office and talk to him about whatever problems you’re having.
AF: He came from a successful program at [University of Vermont] — they beat Syracuse in the NCAA tournament — so he’s brought more individual accountability and “buck stops here” sort of mindset. If you want to win you just have to go out and do it. Although it hasn’t translated so much yet this year, the culture of the program is changing. That’s also coach Cavaco as well, but there’s now a change in culture where there is now some accountability and understanding of what it takes to win.
Summarize the season for me.
GS: Two games left. Two really important games left.
AF: After those two games the summary could be totally different.
GS: This year is distinctive from last year in the change in culture. What we mean by that is a step in the right direction as far as a commitment to basketball.
AF: I’d also say competitive. If you’ve watched our games, we’ve been in just about every one of them. We’ve won a lot of conference games, which isn’t something that traditionally happens.
EL: Now we’re playing not just to compete, but to win.
What have been your proudest moments so far this season?
AF: I would say winning two road conference games.
GS: Yeah, definitely beating DePauw, Denison, even Hiram. That’s something we haven’t been able to do a lot in the past. Definitely another sign that we are moving in the right direction.
EL: These are all teams that we have never beaten since we’ve been here.
AF: Also, this team never let the losses get us down. We had stretches of six losses in a row and we still approached practice the same way as after the first loss or a win. Just because we’ve lost several in a row doesn’t mean we’re going to win the next several in a row.
How do you feel about the future of this team?
GS: We’re definitely heading in the right direction. We lose Andrew [to graduation], which is big both on and off the court, but I feel confident in our junior class and the leadership that we have that we’ll have a really good off season and we’ll make big strides next year.
AF: They’re going to go forward. Win totals and competitiveness ... this team is only going to go in the right direction.
Which NBA team would you compare to the Yeomen?
GS: Teams that grind it out.
AF: The Grizzlies?
GS: Yeah, the Grizzlies. The defense. We need a team that grinds it out and plays tough.
Andrew, you have two games left in your Oberlin career. How are you approaching these games?
AF: Honestly, I think for the next two games I want to approach them the exact same way I’ve approached the rest of the games. I don’t want to change anything or try and do too much. We’ve created these roles that we play in, and to go out there and change what you do because it’s your last game is not part of the team system. I’m just going to keep doing more of the same. Laying the groundwork for potentially a postseason berth and for next year as well. Say we split these last two games or get two and get in the conference tournament. That’s a building block for next year. I’m going to take accountability for some of the wins next year. I feel like I am going to be part of it, jumping up and down whether I’m in Arizona or here.
Are you going to play any basketball post-Oberlin?
AF: Maybe some men’s league basketball, but I’m probably going to move from the basketball to the golf ball. I’m going full-fledged retirement. Laughs
EL: You need it.
Another one for Andrew: How is it being the only senior on the team?
AF: I actually don’t feel like I’m the only senior on the team. I think that the junior class is all really mature, so I’ve felt like we have all led the team together. That was really nice because at the beginning of the year I was a bit concerned but it hasn’t been like that at all.
It’s your last “In the Locker Room;” anything you want to say?
AF: For everyone’s sake at Oberlin, but especially for the sake of the guys in the locker room, Matt and Randy need to shower more consistently. I would also like to take this chance to apologize to anyone on the team that I have sworn at or berated.