Coach Senthil Looks to Shake Things up with Men’s Basketball


Courtesy of SUNY Canton Athletics

Shiva Senthil draws up a play for his previous basketball team at SUNY Canton.

Last week, Oberlin hired former SUNY Canton Head Coach Shiva Senthil to lay the groundwork for the men’s basketball team. In his two years of coaching at SUNY Canton, the Roos gained a conference championship in 2020 and a 2210 conference record. Before his time in Canton, he had many stops as an assistant coach, with the University of Chicago and Clarkson University being his most recent. 

“I am very excited to get on campus and start building this tremendous program,” Senthil said. “I cannot wait to spend time with the team as we look to lead this program to the top of the North Coast Athletic Conference.”

Senthil comes to Oberlin with a multitude of experience of how to build a strong defense, which will be useful for the squad’s upcoming season. In the Roos’ 2020 conference championship season, they were at the top of the field in many defensive metrics, including fifth in Division III men’s basketball at field goal percentage made (.425) and blocks per game (5.5), along with being sixth in defensive rebounds per game (31.6). College first-year guard Asaan Snipes-Rea believes coach Senthil can give a major impact immediately on that end of the court. 

“He detailed wanting us to pressure the ball more, creating more havoc on the defensive end, and becoming a much better rebounding team,” he said. “I think specifically, Shiva will be able to give us an identity that we seemed to lack last year.” 

Snipes-Rea said he already prides himself as a defensive player, so a defensive coach is a perfect match for him. 

“I want to continue being assigned to guard the other team’s best player, and I want to get to the point where I’m seen as one of the best defenders in our league,” he said. “I’m very excited to see how he will be able to help me reach my full potential on that side of the ball.”

Snipes-Rea also hopes to evolve his offensive game and become a more confident shooter, in order to make his game well-rounded. Building a strong offense is important to Snipes-Rea as the Yeomen ranked last in the NCAC in points per game this season.

College third-year and forward Đorđe Otašević also echoes these sentiments as a point of emphasis for next season, and believes Coach Senthil can clean up these issues. 

“One of our biggest struggles this past season was rebounding and closing out games,” he said. “I think developing a defensive mentality will definitely make us better as a team, but also as individuals. It makes us more accountable and builds the trust between the players.” 

It often takes more than a new coach to have a bounce-back season.

“I think we need everybody to understand and accept their roles and hold themselves accountable,” Snipes-Rea said. “I think we need to understand that sometimes we need to change to better ourselves. If we can become more deliberate about our actions, all of us will eventually become the solution to become a great team.”

Otašević  also emphasized the importance that offseason training will have to ensure that the team is prepared when the season arrives. 

“We’ll have to keep working on our individual game, team game, get stronger and stay healthy,” Otašević said. “Focusing more on defense will be very demanding so we’ll have to work even harder than before this offseason.” 

For some players, the transition to a new coach can be difficult, however, Senthil has already begun capturing the spirit of the team and has them in his corner before he’s even stepped on campus, which Snipes-Rea has noticed. 

“I believe Shiva can help us in all of these aspects,” he said. “His coaching smarts, accountability, and demand of respect and excellence makes me believe he is the coach for us.” 

Otašević is especially excited for his younger teammates and the recruits he brings in. Senthil has only been a head coach for two seasons, thereby there is time for him to develop both as a coach alongside his new team and continue to recruit new talent. There’s plenty of time for the team to develop, as they only lost two seniors, and had 12 underclassmen.

“We have a very young team, and after this year, where we’ve been through a lot, I think we gained good experience which we’ll use to do better in the future.” Otašević said. 

Last year’s record certainly left a lot to be desired for the Yeomen, but there was still a lot of hope to take away going into next season, including a win and a one-point loss against Wabash College, a team who won the NCAC tournament and went to the NCAA Final Four. Combining that with 10 of their losses being decided by less than eight points shows that this team is very close to being dangerous, especially as its young core matures. The hope is for the team to score a winning record next year, as they went 1612 in the 201920 season.