The varsity basketball team has been practicing since May in anticipation of the Maranatha Tournament that begins on Nov. 27. The team, led by Head Coach Jamal Adams ‘90, played 30 games over the summer to practice for the upcoming season.
Last year’s varsity team, which finished with an overall record of 19-10 and a Mission League record of 7-5, was knocked out of the CIF playoffs in the semifinals against Harvard-Westlake. Since then, the new team has been through one round of tryouts in May and a second round of tryouts in early September.
Over the last eight weeks, the Cubs have increased their preparation with more scrimmages and more intense workouts.
Senior point guard and shooting guard Gordie Bess said, “Sometimes we focus on individual skill-development drills, such as form shooting, in which we try to perfect the basics. Most of the time, though, we practice defensive drills and offensive plays against each other.”
The Maranatha Tournament includes many top teams in Southern California, such as Mater Dei, Harvard-Westlake and Pasadena High School.
Junior shooting guard and small forward Anthony Lucenti said, “I hope that we can compete with the best teams and put ourselves into a position in which we have a chance at winning the whole tournament.”
Adams suggested that the first few games of the season may serve as wake up calls to many of the new players, as the varsity team lost nine seniors from last year.
Adams said, “Last year’s team was the most experienced team I have had in my 13 years as a high school coach at Loyola. We brought only four guys back this year, and, in terms of returning minutes, this is the lowest I have ever had. This year everything is brand new, and I think what we as coaches are trying to stress to the players is how much of a leap forward in intensity this experience is from their junior varsity experience.”
Bess aims to keep the team motivated through the pre-season by leading by example.
Bess said, “I can help the younger players by encouraging them to remain focused on the end goal. While our practices and workouts during the fall may be difficult and physically demanding, I believe I can assist them by illustrating from my experiences last year that the hard work does eventually pay off.”
Compared to last year’s team, Adams claims that even though this year’s team is lacking in experience, the new squad does have many strengths.
Adams said, “I think we have a really strong shooting team, provided that we can work hard to get open looks. There is a good amount of depth in our team; we are going to play eight to ten guys which will allow us to be a pressure team, and that will wear people down and give us more opportunities to take shots.”