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Men’s Basketball

Saints finish up-and-down season on high note

| Friday, May 13, 2022

The Holy Cross men’s basketball team has been one of the Saints’ top programs over the past few seasons. The Saints combined for a 38-12 record and two National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics tournament berths (NAIA) in the prior two seasons.

But with the conclusion of the 2020-2021 season came the conclusion of the careers of Storm Cook and Jordan Gaines. The departure of the strong senior class left a void in the team. The Saints only returned three players who had played 20+ minutes per game.

“I honestly did not know what to expect [this season],” head coach Mike McBride said of his expectations heading into the season.

“Recreate the fabric of our team,” McBride said on his season goals. “With so many new guys, we wanted to make sure everyone [was] on the same page.”

And early on, the team was on the same page as the Saints started the season 7-3. However, growing pains began once the team got to December, and the squad fell to 8-8.

“That was the difficult time of the year. We essentially went Thanksgiving through Christmas without improving,” McBride recalled. “We falsely thought we had arrived…we failed to improve and we were not growing.” And to make matters worse, an already difficult season was made that much more difficult by COVID and injuries.

A rough stretch like that could have easily derailed a season and caused divisions among the team. McBride says that was not the case for the Saints. “They did an outstanding job of managing the adversity of the season.” McBride felt it could have been a problematic season “if [the team] had had lesser character.” Even though the Saints had a down year, they ended high, beating Trinity International 59-56 on Senior Day.

Moving forward

McBride feels that the three seniors left the program in a better place than when they arrived. “Caleb Pack has been a part of some very successful teams. [He] was an integral part of those successful seasons.”

Ryan Black arrived as a junior transfer. “[He had] tremendous pressure to perform…and was a big factor in us returning to the [2021] national tournament.”

Billy Harness did a great job of “leading both by example and his voice… his attitude was contagious.”

As for next season, McBride “want[s] to get back to the level of success we have created and are accustomed to.”

The Saints certainly have the tools to do so. McBride praised junior Beau Ludwick. “Our most consistent player this year. Both his experience and ability make him a natural leader.” McBride was also excited about two freshmen in Justin O’Neal and Nash Hostetler. “[They] developed in production…personality and voices.”

The Saints endured some tough stretches in 2021-2022. However, the team is poised to make a return to form thanks to the lessons learned this season.

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About Thomas Zwiller

Thomas is a sophomore currently in attendance at Holy Cross College, studying Business and Theology He is from Saint Joseph MI, and went to high school at Saint Joe SB, playing both varsity football and hockey. Feel free to contact him about all things NFL and NBA.

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