Ollie Leads Men’s Basketball into Winter Season

Junior+Randall+Ollie+dunks+the+ball+against+the+Elmira+College+Soaring+Eagles%0Aduring+the+Nov.+26+game+last+season.+Ollie+was+second+on+the+team+in+scoring+and+first+in+rebounds+and+blocks+last+season.
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Ollie Leads Men’s Basketball into Winter Season

Junior Randall Ollie dunks the ball against the Elmira College Soaring Eagles
during the Nov. 26 game last season. Ollie was second on the team in scoring and first in rebounds and blocks last season.

Junior Randall Ollie dunks the ball against the Elmira College Soaring Eagles during the Nov. 26 game last season. Ollie was second on the team in scoring and first in rebounds and blocks last season.

Courtesy of Yvette Chen

Junior Randall Ollie dunks the ball against the Elmira College Soaring Eagles during the Nov. 26 game last season. Ollie was second on the team in scoring and first in rebounds and blocks last season.

Courtesy of Yvette Chen

Courtesy of Yvette Chen

Junior Randall Ollie dunks the ball against the Elmira College Soaring Eagles during the Nov. 26 game last season. Ollie was second on the team in scoring and first in rebounds and blocks last season.

Bob Cornell

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Expectations steadily rise for the men’s basketball team as a once-inexperienced core rapidly matures. The 2013–2014 season proved to be a period of both disappointment and growth for the Yeomen, as the team finished 7–19. Still, they gained valuable experience during the campaign that has left them better prepared for the upcoming season.

Although the squad graduated guard Emmanuel Lewis, forward-center Trey Levy and last year’s leading scorer Geoff Simpson, junior big man Randall Ollie views this year’s team as more complete.

“We are a much better team than we were last year,” he said. “We are a more cohesive unit, and we share the ball very well. Many of us are also much stronger and more fit than we have been in previous seasons.”

Junior swingman Matthew Walker agreed with Ollie, seconding the statement that this year’s team is a closer-knit, more efficient group.

“We should be pretty well-rounded this year in terms of scoring and playing time, so I think that’ll help bring more continuity for our team, which is something we have not had in past years,” he said.

The lineup will be very guard-heavy, with Ollie occasionally playing as the sole big man on the court. In explaining the team’s strategy, Head Coach Isaiah Cavaco, now in his eighth year of coaching, noted that the strength of the guards on the team will better allow the team to go small.

“We may be lacking some size and depth in our frontcourt, but our guards rebound well and our pace of play should make up for those deficiencies,” he said. “We can expect an up-tempo team that has quickness on both ends of the court. Ollie will be a major part of what we do, and we’ll play with four guards on the court a lot.”

Senior guards Jesse Neugarten, Austin Little and Miles Gueno will be integral to the guard-heavy strategy and should see sizable bumps in their playing time from last season. Little, in particular, will be more of a focal point this year, coming off of a season in which he led the team in three-point shots, both made and attempted.

As a key offensive player, Ollie will look to expand on a sophomore campaign in which he averaged 9.9 points and 7.6 rebounds. Despite leading the team in both blocks and rebounds last year, Ollie knows he has to improve if the team is to see future success. His leadership on and off the court will be especially necessary for the team, which has lost two 26-game starters from last season in Lewis and Simpson.

“I think that the best thing I can do is to continue being a vocal leader on the court in games and in practices,” he said. “Also, I think it’s crucial that I try to play my best and also try to play as consistently as I can this season. I think this will definitely give my teammates more confidence in me, as well as giving my team the best chance to win.”

Much of Ollie’s improvement for the upcoming season comes from an offseason in which he worked on his mid-range jumper and focused on further establishing his fitness base.

“Personally, the offseason and this summer were chances for me to really get in shape and break down my game to improve on some of my weaknesses,” said Ollie.

After losing 12 of their final 15 games last season, offseason development and improvement were common goals for the Yeomen, who used last season’s struggles as motivation to work on their game.

“A lot of the guys honed their skills over the offseason, and the things that needed improvement definitely were solved the moment we all arrived on campus,” said Walker.

The Yeomen open their season at home this Saturday, Nov. 15 against the Wittenberg University Tigers. In their home game against the Tigers last season, the Yeomen fell 70–63.

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