Yeomen Fall to Yale, Defeat NYU


Photo courtesy of Yale Athletics

College third-year Jordan Armstrong defends the basket.

When athletes come to Oberlin College, not many of them expect to compete against Division I programs. However, Oberlin’s men’s varsity basketball team opened with an exhibition contest at Division I Yale University last week. This was followed the next day by their opening game against New York University, NCAA Division III. While the team suffered a defeat against Yale University (37–94), they went on to win against NYU (76–62).

On the court, the team conducts themselves with high intensity and strong coordination. Over the past two years, the team has accumulated 25 wins, in part due to strong senior performances and support for players both on and off the court. This was evident in the team’s spirit during both of the games, as starters were able to drive a tight competition with Yale during the first half of the game. Oberlin families attended to cheer players on, and the game was broadcasted on ESPN.

Head Men’s Basketball Coach Isaiah Cavaco attributes the team’s success against NYU to the role of the upperclassmen in helping out in late game situations. The team generally tries to play through the bigger players first because that’s their strength during away games. In particular, he cited the importance of leadership from team captains, College fourth-years Andre Campbell and Christian Fioretti.

Campbell is coming off a career-best year, finishing second on the team with an average of 12.7 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. Last season, Fioretti earned an All-NCAC Honorable Mention and finished as the conference’s top distributor with an average of 4.3 assists per game.

“They steady us a lot,” said Cavaco. “When things get difficult, those are usually the two guys I can count on to get us back in the swing of things. The whole senior class has just been great in terms of leadership. Even the guys that maybe don’t get the minutes or the statistics that some of the others do, they’re great influences in practice. They show everybody how to work and how to be a good team- mate.”

Losing one game and having to play the very next day can be a difficult task, but Fioretti credited the win against NYU to staying positive and expecting nothing less than the best from his teammates.

“I think it’s the one-night rule where you learn from your mistakes and you’re allowed to be down from a game for that one night,” said Fioretti. “But the next day you’re ready to attack that next game plan because Yale and NYU are two completely different teams and we had two different game plans going into that. Just keep staying positive and know- ing that our guys can get the job done.”

Campbell added that mental preparation is important to the success of a game.

“Mental preparation is very key for us to be successful,” he said. “I think that it starts when we get on the bus and the day before in applying what we learned onto the games to make us very successful.”

The team also spends lots of time learning about the other team’s game plan and practicing accordingly, which helped them in their game against NYU.

“We prep by going through the other team’s game plan, learning our scout for each game, and watching film,” said Fioretti. “Just making sure that you are being the best you can be in terms of getting your own shots up and shooting the shots that you know you can in addition to what the coaches expect you to shoot in the game. In preparing for our role as captains, we need to make sure everyone’s on the same page and bring energy so everyone can feed off of that.”

Campbell views his leadership role as a way to connect everyone, which in turn improves how well the team plays on the court.

“We have a lot of influence on the team but I always emphasize that there shouldn’t be a split between the leadership role and the rest of the team,” said Campbell. “It’s less that we’re captains and more like we’re still teammates and we see each other as brothers. I think that if we drop that barrier between captain and teammate, it improves the performance.”

Outside of being team captain, Campbell is an Anthropology major and a Studio Art minor, drawing and painting in his free time. Fioretti is passionate about environmental protection and sustainability and has spent his time at Oberlin majoring in Economics and minoring in Sociology.

As the season progresses with the first home game against Otterbein University on Saturday, Nov. 16, Cavaco has high expectations of what the team is capable of.

“I think every game teaches you something,” Cavaco said. “The senior class has done a good job … every time we’ve been through something, which makes us better at that situation the next time. We’ve been in a lot of those situations, so I want to see the experiences that come out of it in regular games now. And I hope that our younger guys can also learn from that. And then the hope is we play our best basketball in February, that’s always the goal.”

Reflecting on his final season of basketball, Fioretti sees the team as a crucial part of his Oberlin experience and is looking forward to putting together everything that he has learned on the court the past four years to play the best game possible.

“Just seeing the growth of the program while we’ve been here has been great,” said Fioretti. “We kind of struggled [our first] year and then we turned it up since. So this is the year to put that all together and really show that Oberlin basketball is for real. It’s a community for life and it’s been really fun to get to know both the coaches and the players.”