Promise With Uncertainty: A Look At The 2014-2015 Pace Hoops Teams

NATALIA ALVAREZ PAGAN, Sports Editor

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The pieces of last season have been put together and turned into something new: both the men’s and women’s basketball teams have been revamped for the 2014-2015 season.

On the women’s side, things have seemingly turned around; after finishing 5-15 last season, the Setters look to at least double those wins this season.

“We have a lot of good energy going on, we haven’t really had any live games, but the work ethic is very good,” head coach Carrie Seymour said. “We’ve had to be a bit creative with our practices because we don’t have enough bodies to practice 5 on 5, but, so far, they’ve been looking good. I’m cautiously optimistic.”

Three players have already been injured in pre-season, and one before the season started. The players are day to day, but Seymour hopes to have them all back by the end of November.

One such player is senior Shanice Allen, who suffered a stress fracture and has slowly been working her way back. Once back, Seymour believes Allen can make a huge impact.

“Another year older, another year wiser” seems to be a good description for this team. With five seniors and two juniors, the team has formed a strong veteran presence for the five newcomers.

Seymour notes that the veterans have taken on a new attitude that the rookies are accepting as they build their own team culture. Because of this new attitude and work ethic, they’ve been able to do things on the court that they haven’t been able to do in years past.

Meanwhile, the newcomers have brought in their own piece to the puzzle, bringing “a new boost of energy,” taking the team to another level.

Even the team chemistry has been improved from last season, but there is still much work to be done.

“On the court, there is still progress to be made, but that is mainly because of the lack of experience playing together,” Seymour said. “Off the court, however, the team has really bonded quickly.”

Despite the work that needs to be done, Seymour sees endless potential with this group, believing that they are now nowhere near the team that they could become January.

“Everyone seems really confident; everyone wants to be here and they want to play and you can’t ask for more than that,” Seymour said. “We still have a lot we need to get better at, and we have some players that we need to get back, but once all that comes together we’ll be a whole other team.”

While the women’s boosts experience and maturity, the men’s team is on the opposite side of the spectrum. A total of 10 new players were brought in to complement the three returning players.

Those three returnees are key according to head coach Pat Kennedy. Jaylen Mann, Evan Orzoleck, and Marcus Solomon have essentially been named the unofficial veterans.

“Those three guys will be players that we’ll probably rely on very heavily,” said Kennedy, who returns for his second year at Pace. “Evan is a great shooter and Marcus brings a lot on the defensive end. So, on the positive side those guys bring back some experience.”

Despite lack of talent there is much promise with the new recruits, a handful of which either transferred from Division I schools or were recruited by them.

Transfers include Kyle Pearson, Demetrius Griggs, Shelton Mickell and Khalil Brown, while new recruits consist of Evan Gordinier, Victor Jusino, Mike Demello, Jared Pearson, Bryan Rivers, and Brazilian native Marcus Oliveira.

Thus far, it’s been a learning experience for everyone, with Kennedy getting to know each individual player, trying to put the pieces together wherever they fit best.

“Now we have a huge learning curve and we’re still really in the process of getting to know each player,” Kennedy said. “Tapes certainly help but there is nothing like seeing a player with your own eyes.”

Although Kennedy and his staff have the task of molding this young team, they still believe that the playoffs are well within reach.

“Being split up into two conferences, I think we are in the weaker section of the two,” said Kennedy, who almost led the Setters to the playoffs last season, only to fall short in the last game of the season. “We were close last year and it would have been great for that group of guys we had, but I think it would be a huge step forward if we accomplished that this year. Especially having guys that will be coming back, I think that’s very important.”

The men’s team kicks-off their season with a three game road trip, starting off on Nov. 14 as they take on the University of Rhode Island, followed by Molloy College, and Saint Thomas Aquinas. The women’s team starts their season on the same night as they take on the New York Institute of Technology and LIU Post the following day.

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