Page 1

B-Section

Page 1

Basketball Preview 2018-2019

Sports

Your 2018-2019 preview of

Fairfield University’s Men and Women’s Basketball Brought to you by Patrick Getz, Daniel Montgomery, Christopher Lazazzera, Emma Unterkoefler, Julia Lanzillotta & Christopher Fischer

Emerging Stars Headline 2018

Cover Design by Daniel Montgomery Photos by Daniel Montgomery

Neftali Alvarez ‘22

Sam Kramer ‘20

-Read about Neftali Alvarez ‘22 on Page 3 - Read about Sam Kramer ‘20 on Page 8


Page 2

Basketball Preview 2018-2019

Sports

Preview of the 2018-2019 Season: Sitting Down With Coach Johnson By Patrick Getz Co-Sports Editor The Fairfield University Men’s Basketball team is looking to get back to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship game as they did during the 2017 season. Just a year ago, the Stags finished with a 17-16 record, but momentum struck at the right time as all-time leading scorer in Fairfield history, Tyler Nelson ‘18, led them to the MAAC title game. As the Stags fell short last season, head coach Sydney Johnson, who has coached the Stags for the past eight seasons, expressed his excitement for his young team as they head into their 2018 campaign. Johnson wants his team to learn from each other and puts a massive emphasis on learning and playing “inspired basketball.” “We play inspired basketball. We learned a lot during the [2017] season. We used a lot of film and practices and we learned. We also played with a lot of heart, so I know we can get there [this year]. We have done it for a few years now and I am looking forward to that with this team,” said Johnson. The coach senses a strong bond among his players. He always tries to better his players, never settling for anything less. “What I have liked, early on in the season, is that there is a cohesiveness with the group. You got to have a spirit since it’s a team game. You can’t have too many guys thinking about their own play,” said Johnson. Johnson echoed some praise to the veteran leadership, involving Jonathan Kasibabu ‘19 and Aidas Kavaliauskas ‘20 leading the way for first-years. Johnson further said, “I think we got really good leadership with Jon [Kasibabu] and Aidas [Kavaliauskas] and I think it’s a welcoming locker room. I coach them all the same and I coach them really hard, giving them positive reinforcement. It’s our leadership that has to keep the locker room together and they do a really good job at it.” Johnson honed in on the growth this team will display throughout 2018 as he expects the team to grow together and mature together. “We are going to play better in January, February and March. We go some really talented kids and we got some guys playing a bigger role than they did last year,” said Johnson. The Fairfield Men’s Basketball team is attempting to head back to the MAAC Championship, led by Johnson. Johnson is no stranger to playoff basketball, he previously coached for Princeton University, so there is a lot of excitement swirling around this Fairfield basketball team as the season commences. Contributed by Sports Information Desk Head coach Sydney Johnson looks to lead his squad back to the MAAC title game as he did last year

Fresh Faces Lead Coach Frager’s Stags into 2018 By Patrick Getz Co-Sports Editor The Fairfield University Women’s Basketball team saw the departure of Samantha Cooper ‘18 as she graduated last year, but head coach Joe Frager has loved what he has seen from his team as the season tips off against Richmond University. Entering his 12th season as head coach, Frager continues to make the Stags ultimate competitors and contenders in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Frager has enjoyed seeing the unity among all the players so early on in the season. “The energy in the gym has been good. I think that the cohesion of the group has been good. Everyone has been getting along well. But anytime there is a young team, there is a learning curve,” said Frager. In addition to the team’s’ energy, Frager teaches his players, from seniors to firstyears, to stay determined and never lose focus. “Just bringing a level on intensity that we need to bring each and every day. Also [it’s about] not taking days off in terms of effort,” Frager said. “We can deal with mistakes because everyone is going to make

them, but one thing we can not tolerate is lack of effort. Also, we’re just trying to make sure that everyone is trying to, not just maintain, but raise that level of intensity.” Senior Casey Foley, Kendra Landy ‘19 and Dija Diouf ‘19 look to lead their squad and set a good example for the incoming first-years and sophomores, getting the notice of their own head coach. “To date, our three senior captains have done a fabulous job. Kendra Landy, Casey Foley and Dija Diouf, and it’s not an easy task when there are so many firstyear and second-year players in a program, the coaching staff is going to rely on the seniors to teach them the Fairfield way,” explained Frager. “From the moment they stepped on campus, the [captains] did a great job in doing so.” There is a youth movement with this Stags Women’s Basketball team as they prepare to start their season against Richmond. They travel to Richmond, Va. to open up the year as they face the Spiders for the second consecutive year.

Contributed by the Sports Information Desk The Fairfield University Women’s Basketball Team is ready to take the court again and take on the MAAC with a combination of veteran experience and youth.


Page 3

Basketball Preview 2018-2019

Sports

Getting To Know Fairfield Basketball’s First-Years Andrea Hernangomez Forward Madrid, Spain Q: The Fairfield Women’s Basketball has earned 11-straight conference winning seasons under Coach Joe Frager. Do you feel any pressure, coming onto such a successful team as rookies? How has Coach helped you adjust? AH: I think that in my opinion I don’t have pressure because this is a new team and new people. We have four freshmen and one transfer so it’s a new team so we can play different. We can win more or win less, we don’t know, but we are going to play as a team and do it hard. Q: Your brothers Willy and Juan are currently in the NBA. They have experienced the move from Madrid to the US to pursue their basketball careers long before you did. What advice did they give you as you began your journey here at Fairfield? AH: Don’t give up. I mean, they were like older than me when they went to the USA. I’m only 18 so I’m very homesick some days but they say don’t give up, keep training and practicing, keep fighting, to be happy every day, and talk to my family every day too- that’s one thing that they told me. Those are the most important things that they told me. Q: What qualities do you think this years roster possesses that will set them apart from other teams in our conference? AH: We are like a family. I mean, we have each other. If we have a problem we solve it. If we have a bad day, we try everything to make (it) a good day and to change that. I think that (it is) something not all teams have. I think that is a big quality because they are like family- like sisters. We are always talking, this is a good thing. We are always moving and we never stop.

Neftali Alvarez Guard Cantano, P.R. Q: Talk about what brought you to Fairfield and how significant your relationship with the coaches was in the process? NA: We have a really good relationship with Coach Sydney and Coach P. They came to Miami eight times and we talked so much about my game and coming to Fairfield. Coach P has a relationship with my mentor in Miami and they have been friends Q: How have the older guards helped you improve thus far? Q: How have the older guards helped you improve thus far? NA: With the older guys we are close on and off the court. We have great communication in every way. Q: How has your adjustment been to Division One basketball been in terms of balancing academics and athletics? NA: It has been a little bit hard. We have practice in the morning and class in the afternoon. In my case I have class in the morning, practice, then class again. I do not have class on Wednesday’s so I am coming with teacher’s and doing homework and doing the same on the weekends when I am free. Q: What can we look for on the court in terms of your strengths this year? NA: I am here for a reason. I want to get my team to the NCAA Tournament, that is what I want and that is what my guys want. Q: What has been your favorite part about Fairfield to this point? A: Basketball. Basketball is my life so it has definitely been my favorite.

Calvin Whipple Guard Leominster, Mass. Q: What made you come to Fairfield in the first place? CW: It was a good combination of academics and basketball, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to pursue academics at a high level and continue my career on the court at a high level. Q: You played with numerous Division One players in your time at Northfield Mount Hermon, how did that help your development as a player? CW: You could not hide where I came from. There was a high-major guy there and a mid-major guy there. All of my senior class went D1, so you had to produce and if you did not produce you were falling behind. You had to hold your own day in and day out. Q: How did your summer at school help you as a player and a student? CW: It helped me adjust to the speed of the game at the college level as it is much quicker than high school. I was up to defensive rotations and college game speed was a big adjustment. Also, the conditioning aspect which was a lot of running. Schoolwise it helped me get ahead a little bit. Q: Having great size, how does your versatility help this team? CW: I am more perimeter oriented, but I hit the weight room when I was younger so it allows me to bang inside and guard a big on a switch. I can really be the Swiss Army Knife and do a lot of things.

Jazmine Carter Center Sicklerville, N.J. Q: The Fairfield Women’s Basketball has earned 11-straight conference winning seasons under Coach Joe Frager. Do you feel any pressure, coming onto such a successful team as rookies? How has Coach helped you adjust? JC: It’s just new, just adjusting to it. Expectations are a little higher, he expects the best of us, he expects us to give our all. It’s just an adjustment and so far he is helping us out, making sure we know the plays, and trying to make everything as smooth as possible. Q: Each of you are students in our Dolan School of Business. How have you managed to balance schoolwork in conjunction with such a rigorous athletic schedule? JC: I made a schedule planner for the whole week so each day I just break it down; when to go to classes, when to study, when to do homework, so like that really helped me get organized and just be able to balance both the school load and the basketball load. Q: You have mentioned before that versatility is a priority for you, and it’s something you have practiced a lot with your dad. What qualities do you hope to improve upon this season to make yourself a better player? JC: I hope to improve on rebounding and speaking more because I’ve always been really quiet so just talking more helps the team. Knowing where certain players are on more defense just helps with the offense. (Also) being loud and distracting our opponents. Rebounding and conditioning, watching us get up and down the floor quick, just do stuff like that. Q: What qualities do you think this years roster possesses that will set them apart from other teams in our conference? JC: Well yeah, we are all close on and off the court. Like, being close and getting to know each other helps for when it’s time to get on the court and I think our work ethic, we always try to push ourselves to be better. That will really help us when it is time to play in the MAAC.


Page 4

Basketball Preview 2018-2019

Sports

Fairfield’s Finest: The Senior Class

Contributed by Sports Information Desk Kendra Landy (left) and Casey Foley (right) figure to be key pieces in the Stags lineup this year. Both guards will use their experience to lead Fairfield’s crop of young, talented players on the roster.

By Emma Unterkoefler Contributing Writer The 2018-19 Fairfield University Women’s Basketball season will be lead by three seniors: Khadidiatou Diouf ‘19, Casey Foley ‘19 and Kendra Landy ‘19 who are seeking to bring home a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship for the first time in their four years as Stags. In an in-person interview, The Mirror learned more about their experiences and aspirations. Diouf, Foley and Landy are serving as tri-captains for the upcoming season. They each bring a different skill set to the team. Diouf had a breakout junior season and was named to the Preseason All-MAAC Third team as one of the top 15 players in the conference. Foley brings her intensity to the court, primarily on the defensive side. Last year, Foley recorded 59 steals, which is the most in a season within the past six years for a Stag. Landy is an unselfish point guard who has recorded 200 assists in her first three years. She will bring this same work ethic and team-first mindset into the upcoming season.

When asked about how their games have developed throughout their college careers, they all remarked on how they have become more well-rounded players. Landy said, “I came in with one key strength and over the years, I have developed multiple key strengths, which makes it more difficult to defend me.” Similarly, Diouf notes how she has matured, “I have learned where to be at the right time and where I am needed most. I have learned how to make better decisions and when to shoot.” By being more wellrounded, the seniors have the ability to score in multiple ways; they are no longer one-trick-ponies. A major component of being a senior is setting the tone and leading younger players, which can be a demanding task. However, Diouf, Foley and Landy think it is fun. “It is fun! We do a good job. We lead by example and we all try to do it together,” said Foley. The trio are leaders on and off court as they establish a team culture of hard work, dedication and, most importantly, fun.

“All three of us have different ways of leading, which is very helpful for the team. We want to leave behind a good culture to help the team be better in the long run,” said Diouf. After innumerable practices, lifts, video sessions and bus rides, head coach Joe Frager has taught these women a lot, but The Mirror asked the seniors to narrow it down to just one thing. “To trust what he is telling you to do. There is a reason behind everything,” Diouf responded. As Diouf has matured as a player, she has learned that trust is paramount. On choosing one lesson, Foley mentioned, “To understand the importance behind the little things and create good habits.” “There is a reason behind everything, even the basics like teamwork. There is a bigger picture and everyone is a part of the puzzle,” Landy adds. With these lessons, it seems that the Stags are ready to work together as a team to build upon past successes and improve on the little things that can make a big difference.

Veterans Gear Up For One More Ride By Patrick Getz Co-Sports Editor

Photos Contributed by Sports Information Desk and Photo (bottom right) Taken from Fairfield Basketball/Twitter

Senior Jonathan Kasibabu, Matija Milin ‘19 and Thomas Nolan ‘19 have been solid contributors to the Fairfield University Men’s Basketball team for four seasons and the spotlight is now on them. All three of these Stags have given so much effort to this team where they embody head coach Sydney Johnson’s philosophy of loving one another, learning together and working together. To all three players, it has been a dream come true to play for Fairfield, especially for Nolan, being a Trumbull, Conn. native. “It means a lot. I know that I am truly blessed and grateful to be here, because I grew up watching these guys play. It’s almost like a dream come true to be able to put on a Fairfield uniform. I’m just really hoping we do really well this year,” said Nolan. Just as their head coach mentioned about leadership, being a veteran leader comes with responsibility, which includes being a good example for the first-years and sophomores. “I think, as a senior, my job is to set an example for the others, especially the freshmen. To show them how we play the game, how to show them in practice what to do and just influence their life towards the common goal of winning,” said Milin. Kasibabu is now viewed as the team leader on the court, this is something that does not phase Kasibabu as it does not seem any different. “For me, it’s not really a big change because I have always led my team since I was a freshman. Obviously I had great leaders but for me, leading is just playing the hardest and I have been doing that since I have been on this floor. And it makes it easy for the other guys to follow me because of my work ethic,” said the forward Kasibabu. Winning does not come easy. It takes a lot of hard work and Kasibabu, who is looking to have his best season in a Fairfield uniform, works hard and spoke about what influenced his work ethic. “I am really far from home. You just go hard or go home, you know. Nothing is easy, nothing is given to you. Sometimes you just got to go take it and the only way to do it is hard work,” said Kasibabu. “My dad always told me that there are three things that will get you through and that is hard work, hard work and hard work.” With these three Stag veterans taking the court in 2018, there is one thing for sure, and that is they are all grateful and blessed to be in a Stags uniform. These players know how hard they have to work in order to achieve success and are willing to do what is necessary in order to win.


Page 5

Basketball Preview 2018-2019

Sports

The Mirror’s Projected Starting Five: Men’s:

Women’s:

Neftali Alvarez ‘22 Point Guard

Kendra Landy ‘19

Point Guard

Taj Benning ‘20 Shooting Guard

Casey Foley ‘19 Shooting Guard

Landon Taliaferro ‘20 Small Forward

Wassef Methnani ‘19 Power Forward

Jonathan Kasibabu ‘19 Center

Sam Kramer ‘20 Guard

Khadidiatou Diouf ‘19 Forward

Katie Armstrong ‘20

Forward

Photos Contributed by Sports Information Desk


Men’s Basketball 2018-19 Schedule Date:

Nov. 6 Nov. 10 Nov. 13 Nov. 17 Nov. 23 Nov. 24 Nov. 25 Dec. 1 Dec. 6 Dec. 9 Dec. 16 Dec. 22 Jan. 3 Jan. 5 Jan. 7 Jan. 10 Jan. 13 Jan. 17 Jan. 19 Jan. 24 Jan. 27 Jan. 31 Feb. 2 Feb. 4 Feb. 9 Feb. 15 Feb. 17 Feb. 24 Mar. 1 Mar. 3

Opponent:

#22/24 @ Purdue 90-57(L) @ Bucknell LIU Brooklyn Wagner Longwood @ Seattle Denver @ Army West Point Oakland @ Old Dominion @ Boston College @ New Hampshire Rider* @ Iona* Niagara* Saint Peter’s* @ Quinnipiac* @ Monmouth Canisius Siena* Iona* @ Manhattan* @ Marist* @ Siena* Monmouth* @Canisius* @ Niagara* Manhattan* Marist* @ Saint Peter’s*

Time:

7:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. 7:30 p.m. 1:00 p.m. 6:30 p.m. 6:00 p.m. 3:00 p.m. 1:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. 1:00 p.m. 1:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. 1:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. 2:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. 1:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. 1:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. 1:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. 2:00 p.m. 3:30 p.m. 7:00 p.m. 1:00 p.m.


Women’s Basketball 2018-19 Schedule Date:

Nov. 9 Nov. 13 Nov. 17 Nov. 23 Nov. 24 Nov. 25 Dec. 2 Dec. 5 Dec. 9 Dec. 20 Dec. 21 Jan. 3 Jan. 6 Jan. 12 Jan. 15 Jan. 18 Jan. 20 Jan. 24 Jan. 29 Feb. 1 Feb. 3 Feb. 7 Feb. 9 Feb. 14 Feb. 17 Feb. 19 Feb. 22 Feb. 24 Mar. 2

Opponent:

@ Richmond LIU Brooklyn @ Xavier @ Brown Bucknell Massachusetts William & Mary Northeastern @ Dartmouth Furman UIC @ Quinnipiac* @ Rider* Marist* Saint Peter’s* @ Canisius* @ Niagara* @ Iona* Siena* @ Manhattan* Monmouth* Canisius* Niagara* @ Siena* Quinnipiac* @ Marist* @ Saint Peter’s* Iona* Rider*

Photos Contributed by Sports Information Desk

Time:

2:00 p.m. 5:00 p.m. 2:00 p.m. 4:00 p.m. 4:00 p.m. 3:00 p.m. 2:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. 2:00 p.m. 3:00 p.m. 3:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. 2:00 p.m. 2:00 p.m. 11:00 a.m. 7:00 p.m. 1:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. 2:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. 5:00 p.m. 7:00 a.m. 3:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. 5:00 p.m. 1:00 p.m. 2:00 p.m.

* Denotes a MAAC game


Kramer & Diouf Eye Big Roles in 2018 Basketball Preview 2018-2019

Sports

Page 8

Photo Contributed by Sports Information Desk (left) and Photo Taken (right) from Fairfield WBB/Twitter Guard Sam Kramer ‘20 (left) and forward Khadidatou Diouf ‘19 (right) enter seasons where they can have a serious impact on the first-years and sophomores by setting a good example.

By Christopher LaZazzera Assistant Sports Editor The Fairfield University Women’s Basketball team is all in for a successful 2018-19 season. That success will hang on the play of Sam Kramer ‘20 and Khadidatou Diouf ‘19 who have lots of experience playing in Stag uniforms. Kramer had a great sophomore campaign in which she made 54 three-pointers (36 more than her first-year campaign), which converted into a 9.9 scoring average. She was close to perfect at the free throw line, shooting 84.3 percent on the year. She made an average of 1.8 three-pointers per game and shot 34.4 percent from deep, all ranking in the Top 10 in the MAAC Conference. Kramer’s biggest game of the season came on Nov. 29, where she dropped 19 points and seven assists on the University of Massachusetts Lowell River Hawks. Referred to by her teammates as Didi, Diouf ’s junior year season was impressive, too. She posted career-highs in every statistical category in 29 starts and 30 appearances. The Dakar, Senegal native proved she could score the ball early in the year with four-straight double-digit point totals. She averaged 9.6 points, shot 50 percent or better from the field in 11 games and recorded 17 blocks during her breakout year. In one of her best games of the year against Niagara University on Jan. 2, Diouf snagged a career-high of 15 rebounds. Despite their success, Kramer and Diouf haven’t shied away from taking the younger players under their wings. “I think they are a very active and dedicated incoming class. They have all make an

impact in a great way so far. They’ve come in ready ever since the summer. Off and on the court we work well together so it will show this year,” said Kramer. Diouf echoed Kramer’s sentiments and said, “I try to prepare them mentally for the aspects of the game and mostly about the culture of the team. When they need help with the offense, defense and everything, I talk to them. Sometimes it’s easier when a peer is talking to you rather than a coach.” The importance of staying focused throughout the season is apparent to both players and they know this will improve their chances for a successful campaign. “The end goal is to win a MAAC Championship and I think every day we mention that. It’s a motivator for us and each day we are going to work to fix any obstacles we have and challenges we face,” said Kramer. Diouf noted that, if the team has confidence in each other, it will help the team win. “We’ll be able to hold each other accountable in the long run. It’s the type of relationship I want to have with my teammates so when I’m down they can pick me up and when they’re down I can pick them up,” said Diouf. With the Stags having an array of home games at Alumni Hall and Webster Bank Arena this season, it is evident in their voices that Kramer and Diouf are excited for the season to begin. The Stags’ first game is Nov. 9 at 2:00 p.m. in Richmond, Va. against the University of Richmond Spiders.

Aidas Kavaliauskas ‘20 Aims For Break-Out Year By Christopher Fischer Contributing Writer Coming into the beginning of the Fairfield University 2017 Basketball season, there was a strong certainty that Jerome Segura ‘18 would be the main offensive player for the Stags as he had the reigns the previous year. As the non-conference schedule went on, Segura had the role of facilitating and directing the offense, which he did well. This was not the case when Aidas Kavaliauskas ‘20 stepped into the starting role at the beginning of conference play as not a lot of people were expecting the change of switching the starting point guard halfway through the year. People were skeptical, but Men’s Basketball coach Sydney Johnson knew the potential that Kavaliauskas brought to the team, and the player hit the ground running. Kavaliauskas played his first game at the beginning of the new year, and was instantly thrown some quality minutes off the bench until he earned his first start in his fourth career game. Kavaliauskas made this opportunity count, guiding the Stags in an overtime loss against Marist College with a 14 point, 10 assist double-double, the first points/assist double-double for the Stags since Tyler Nelson ’18 in February 2017 against Quinnipiac University. Then, in his next game out, Kavaliauskas did it again with a 14 point, 11 assist double-double in a double-digit with against Niagara University, becoming the first Stag with back-to-back points/assists double-doubles since Joe DeSantis ‘79 in Feb., 1978. The Stags played better with Kavaliauskas starting, improving their scoring-per-game from 69.3 PPG to 76.4 PPG, as well as surpassing the century mark three times. They also took care of the ball at a more efficient mark, reducing their turnovers-per-game by just over 3 TOPG. Kavaliauskas was the floor general Fairfield needed, and, behind his calm demeanor at the helm of the offense, the Stags made it all the way to the MAAC Championship Game before a close loss to Iona College. Kavaliauskas, originally from Lithuania, attended Spire Academy in Ohio, the same school that has been in headlines since LaMelo Ball decided to enroll there for the Fall 2019 school year. Kavaliauskas has been playing basketball at a high level for a majority of his life, playing for the Lithuanian Junior National Team and being named to the 2011 Jordan Brand Classic, which is reserved for the Top 50 European High School basketball players. Kavaliauskas has also been a role model by using basketball as a way to connect with others around the world, traveling to Zimbabwe to teach basketball to children at local schools. Now going into his junior year, Kavaliauskas is ready to take all of his prior experience to lead the Stags this season. Kavaliauskas is ready to be the main guy to facilitate the offense after averaging 4.6 APG last season, good for 6th in the MAAC. But he realizes that not everything will happen all at once, and they must stay focused: “We have the same mentality(as last year) that we have to take it game by game, but we definitely have more motivation this year because we were so close last year.” Contributed by Sports Information Desk


Page 9

Basketball Preview 2018-2019

Sports

Stag Spotlight: Getting to Know JUCO Transfer Landon Taliferro

Contributed by Sports Information Desk

Catching Up with Sam Lewis ‘21 By Patrick Getz Co-Sports Editor

Photo taken from tuscon.com Junior Landon Taliferro scored 11 points and recorded three assists in the season opener against the Purdue Boilmakers.

By Christopher Fischer Contributing Writer Like many others across the country, Landon Taliaferro ‘20 is living out his dream of becoming a Division One athlete, and is taking it in stride. “It’s special,” he said, hands on his hips after a long morning practice right before a flight, “I’m really blessed to be in this spot.” Taliaferro has taken a bit of a different approach in his journey to D1, but one that is becoming more and more popular, junior college. The 6’3, 185 lb sharpshooter is originally from Boulder, Colo. Instead of attempting to jump straight into National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball, he decided to attend Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne, Wyo., where he spent two years to blossom into a legit D1 prospect. Taliaferro’s two years at Laramie were as opposite as could be, as he averaged a miniscule 3 MPG his first-year. Then he impressively averaged 6.1 PPG during his second year, terrific numbers for that little playing time. However, during his sophomore year, Taliaferro became one of the most feared shooters in junior college, averaging 22.1 PPG on 50 percent shooting. He also shot a mind-boggling 48.7 percent from beyond the arc in 23.9 MPG and led his team to a 17-14 record, unfortunately getting eliminated from the Region IX tournament in the first round by Lamar Community College. Taliaferro will attempt to keep the Stags from deep as they lose nearly 200 made-three pointers from last season between Tyler Nelson’ 18 and Ferron Flavors Jr. ‘21, who transferred. Taliaferro knows that things will not be handed to him though, and while talking about junior college and D1, he mentioned some stark differ-

ences between the two. “The pace and the schedule is way more hectic. The intensity is a lot higher too,” said Taliaferro. The Stags, who were one game away from the NCAA tournament last season, are attempting to match that past success despite losing a few major pieces, and Taliaferro is excited for what the team could accomplish in his first year here. “I think we can make some noise this season, so we just have to keep working hard and see where we end up,” said Taliaferro. Taliaferro is taking everything in stride and is doing his best to incorporate himself as a contributing member of the team. “If I’m open, I’m going to shoot the ball, everybody has a role,” said the guard. Shooting the ball was another former player’s main role during his time at Fairfield, somebody with a great deal of similarities to Taliaferro. A 6’3, 185 lb shooter with a terrific basketball mind and great off-ball movement in order to get open. Sound familiar? Taliaferro recognizes the similarities between him and Tyler Nelson ‘18, the all-time leading scorer at Fairfield. He and Nelson were in touch before Taliaferro began his campaign at Fairfield, with Nelson offering Taliaferro advice of how to handle things throughout the season. Now that Taliaferro is up to speed and has all the tools to succeed at this level, it will be interesting to see if he is the X-factor that puts the Stags over the top and to the next level.

The Fairfield University Women’s Basketball team has a young and upcoming playmaker in Sam Lewis ‘21, who is looking to build off of a solid first year in a Stag uniform. Last season, Lewis led all first-years in points (57), 3-pointers (15), rebounds (36) and field goals (20). She made an immediate impact in her first year and looks to build off it even more this season. “I am just going to continue to work on my game, working with my teammates, just trying to be the best we can be together and hopefully good things will happen,” said Lewis. As good of a first year as Lewis had, she is certainly not settling for anything during her second as she wants to improve her game heading into the 2018 season. Her goal is to be an allaround threat on the court. “During this offseason, I worked on my ball handling skills and lateral quickness,” said Lewis. The Elkridge, Md. native knows how to be a team player and her main desire is to win. She is only interested in team accomplishments. “I think I can make the most impact by doing what the team needs from me, whether it is rebounding, shooting, defense,” Lewis said. “It is mainly giving them all I can, working together and working as a unit.” With her last season record, Lewis knows how effective her perimeter shot can be. However, she does not want to be known as just an outside shooter. “I think [3-pointers] have been always a big part of my game, but I don’t want to be known just as a 3-point shooter so it’s definitely a main part. I just am working on other parts of my game too,” said Lewis. As the 2018 season arrives, the sophomore guard is optimistic about the team as they head into their first game. “We are working hard day-in and day-out and we are clicking well together. Good things will happen if we can keep that up,” stated Lewis. Sam Lewis aims to be efficient out around the perimeter as well as on other parts of the court so she can become a strong, all-around player.


Basketball Preview 2018-2019

Sports

Page 10

Benning Looks to Continue Development in Year Two By Chris LaZazzera Assistant Sports Editor The Fairfield Mirror recently sat down with Sophomore Taj Benning, a native of Fair Lawn, N.J. The physical and quick combo guard is looking to have a stellar season and help the Stags in multiple ways on and off the court.

Q: What did you learn from your first year, being on a team that was one win away from an NCAA Tournament berth? A: That it’s a long season and things change and to trust the coaches. Know that it’s a long time from when we start in October to March and that the season has its ups and downs. We just have to stay the course and we’ll eventually get where we have to go.

mer?

Q: What is one area of your game that you think you improved on over the sum-

A: I feel like I really worked on my jumpshot. The thing that’s different between this year and last year is that I’m just more comfortable. I watched a lot of film and tried to work on my basketball I.Q. also. Q: Who would you say you model your game off of and why? A: I really like Chauncey Billups. He’s a bigger guard, very strong and can post up smaller guards. He can shoot the ball, is a good defender and a great leader. I’m always trying to work on my leadership ability so that’s why I watch him. Q: Coach Sydney Johnson mentioned that he really likes the way you are able to organize the team on the court. Who did you learn this skill from? A: Coach [Tyson] Wheeler is really really helpful. He is always telling me what to do, calling me, texting me, noticing these little things I should do. One of the things he always tells me is to be more vocal, be a better a leader and direct guys. I’m still learning, but Coach Wheeler really helps me out with that and he is big for my game. Q: What do you expect to bring to the team this year in terms of your game? A: I have to be able to take and make shots. Be a leader. Coach Johnson really wants me to become a better defender on the perimeter. Be gritty, be nasty and just be a really tough dude while I play. Q: What are your expectations for the team this season? A: I don’t really think we have a ceiling. I think this team can do a lot of things, but we have to keep working and stay the course. Take it day by day and I think this is a championship group. I think we have that D.N.A and this team can do a lot of big things.

Q&A With Rachel Hakes ‘22 By Patrick Getz Co-Sports Editor

Contributed by Sports Information Desk and Photo Taken from Fairfield Basketball/Twitter Sophomore Taj Benning acts as a combo guard where head coach Sydney Johnson can utilize Benning in many different areas on the court, from the perimeter all the way down to the paint.

First-year Fairfield University Women’s Basketball player Rachel Hakes comes from Woodbury, Minn. Here at Fairfield, Hakes plays with girls from all over the country, and even the world. The player talked about what the game of basketball means to her as she starts the next chapter of her basketball career. Q: How has the transition from playing in Minnesota to playing here at Fairfield felt? A: There is definitely a transition from high school to college. It’s a lot quicker and it takes a lot more attention to detail. But I feel it’s been a pretty smooth transition because the upperclassmen have been so helpful. Q: What does the game of basketball mean to you? A: It’s always been a huge part of my life. More and more, I just feel the game of basketball has brought me to so many places and given me so many experiences and now its giving me an education. So, it’s just something that’s bigger than myself, being part of a team like this. I feel very blessed to be able to play. Q: What are some of those experiences you mentioned? A: Playing in club, you get to travel around the country all summer and you meet so many girls from your own state. And now playing with girls, like Lou [Lopez-Senechal ‘22] is from France and Andrea [Hernangomez ‘22] is from Spain and other girls [are] from all over the country. It’s just a cool experience. Q: Who was your biggest influence growing up?

Contributed by Sports Information Desk

A: It would probably be my siblings. I have an older brother and an older sister, so I have always looked up to them. I would always have to find ways to keep up since I was younger.


Sports

Basketball Preview 2018-2019

Jesus Cruz Prepares for Big Sophomore Campaign

Page 11

Contributed by Sports Information Desk Jesus Cruz ‘21 aims to improve his game this season as the Stags will look to him to be the necessary scorer leading a young backcourt, with fellow sophomore Taj Benning and first-year Neftali Alvarez.

By Julia Lanzillotta Contributing Writer No. 24 Jesus Cruz ‘21 is arguably one of the most skilled athletes on the Fairfield University Men’s Basketball team. Last year, in his rookie season, Cruz was one of three men on the roster to play in all 33 games; 24 of which he started. He totaled 893 minutes on the court, continuing to be in remarkable shape and of good health throughout the season. In a Mirror exclusive, he shared how he remained durable in his 33-game-stretch by itemizing his physical maintenance. He said that his regiment included, “… a lot of stretching, always taping my ankles, ice baths after practices and games.” Cruz remembered NBA legend Ray Allen came to talk to the team and shared some advice that was given to him in regards to staying at peak performance. The NBA legend told the team that, if they wanted to be great, they would have to be available. Cruz carried those words of wisdom with him and stated, “I was able to be available the whole season, and being healthy, that was a big key for me.” He emphasized the fact that he re-

ally wants to prioritize that throughout his career. Cruz, from Puerto Rico, averaged an outstanding 9.3 points per game and reached a career high of 21 points in a single game against fellow nutmeg state rival, Quinnipiac University, on Jan. 27, 2018. When asked about what he thought was his greatest strength last season, Cruz responded with ease. “Believing in myself and not being nervous- just playing the sport that I love,” he said. Cruz also included that a huge focus for him in the off season was working on his three-point and free-throw shooting, adding that he sees improvements in that area. As such a young talent, Cruz’s accomplishments have warranted him to assume a leadership role early in his career. Now in his sophomore year, Cruz told us how he has grown as an athlete and leader to his younger teammates. “I have to be more of a voice on the team this year. I’ve been through it once already so I know what to expect and I think that’s going to help me a lot… I can help the new guys out with getting through it and being

the best versions, because we need everyone to be the best versions of themselves to get what we didn’t get last year,” the guard said. He was referring to the MAAC championship title, which Fairfield ultimately lost last March to Iona College (83-71). The underclassman trailblazer stressed his thirst for redemption this year and noted the MAAC title as his main goal for the Stags this season. His confidence in Fairfield’s 2018-2019 team was obvious upon speaking with him, and he credited his own teammates for his performance last season. Personally, Cruz showed disappointment with not making the All-Rookie team this past year. This year, Stag Country prepares to watch this young player closely, in hopes that he can top his exceptional introductory season.

From France to Fairfield: Sitting Down With Lou-Lopez Senechal By Dan Montgomery Co-Sports Editor

The Mirror had the chance to speak with a well traveled person and player from Fairfield University Women’s Basketball team Lou-Lopez Senechal ‘22, who recently made the move from France to the United States. Q: How has your international experience helped you develop as a player? A: I bring experience from other countries. I am from France and Mexico and bring a different culture here. As a player I have knowledge of the international game and how to play with other internationals. Q: What has been your toughest adjustment to playing and living in the States? A: It has been going really well so far. I am not really struggling. With the team it is going so well as they are helping me adjust to everything really fast. It is going perfect right now. Q: Can you talk about your ability to play multiple positions and how your versatility will translate to making an immediate impact? A: I love playing defense. My versatility will give me a lot of opportunities to play and make an impact for the team. Q: What are you most excited about this year?

Contributed by Sports Information Desk

A: I am excited about the season starting, I can not wait to start the season with the team and see how everything goes. I think we can do very well this year.


Page 12

Basketball Preview 2018-2019

Sports

Men’s 2018-19 Roster No.

Name

0

Neftali Alvarez ‘22

1

Women’s 2018-19 Roster

Pos. No.

Name

G

2

Feliz Lemetti ‘22

G

11 Lou-Lopez Senechal ‘22

2

Taj Benning ‘21

G

12

Eden Nibbelink ‘21

5

Aidas Kavaliauskas ‘20

G

13

Khadidiatou Diouf ‘19

10

Thomas Nolan ‘19

G

14

Casey Foley ‘19

11

Calvin Whipple ‘22

G

15

Katie Armstrong ‘20

12

Kevin Senghore-Peterson ‘21

F

20

Kendra Landy ‘19

13

Jonathan Kasibabu ‘19

F/C

22

Rachel Hakes ‘22

14

Matija Milin ‘19

F

23

Callie Cavanaugh ‘21

15

Wassef Methnani ‘21

F

30

Sam Lewis ‘21

31

Megan Morelli

24

Jesus Cruz ‘21

G

32

Jazmine Carter ‘22

25

Landon Taliaferro ‘20

G

40

Molly Bauer ‘21

30

Omar El-Sheikh ‘21

F

41

Andrea Hernangomez

44

Nicole Bus ‘20

Back page design by Daniel Montgomery

Sam Kramer ‘20

Photos Contributed by Sports Information Desk & Alfredo Torres/The Mirror

11/9/18  
11/9/18  
Advertisement