The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

Basketball Is Back and on the Big Screen

Monday, Jan. 22, was a big day for Colgate University. Students were back on campus for the first time in over a month, and if you were to have turned on CBS Sports anywhere in the United States between 4 and 9 p.m., you would have been watching back-to-back Colgate basketball games. 

This unique moment for both the programs comes at different periods of development for each of the squads. Both head coaches spoke about where their teams are now, how their seasons have been going and how each squad is focusing as they enter the last several weeks of the season.

Women’s Basketball

Colgate women’s basketball has grown tremendously in the past two years. They ended their 2022-23 campaign ranked ninth nationally in three-point defense percentage and twelfth in scoring defense, leading the Patriot League in both categories. The Raiders opened their Patriot League season on Jan. 3 and won their first four contests straight.

Women’s Head Coach Ganiyat Adeduntan, who signed a contract extension with the University through 2028 following the strong development of the program, spoke on what has allowed the team to reach these improvements.

Ultimately, it has been the culture, focus on the culture. In order to be able to grow and get to the spot where you want to win, you got to have positivity around you. So we’re really, really big on making sure that we have a set of values and then another set of what we call absolutes. Our values are what drives us right and our absolutes are how we show up every single day,” Adeduntan said. “So love, integrity, gratitude, hard work, trust in our values and then communication, competitiveness, energy and enthusiasm. I think that has been something our kids have really, really grabbed onto, knowing that everything starts with relationships and loving and caring for each other and being servant leaders. That has been a difference.”

The women’s team began their competition season with big wins at home in November against Cornell and Canisius, yet that is not where the season started for them.

“The season is flying by, but it’s been long. We got going with our season when we went to Italy and Greece, so that goes back to the foreign tour in August. [The players] were up in June and July practicing, so we’ve been at it for a while, but a lot of great things and progress from where it was when I first got here two years ago,” Adeduntan said of the season so far.

“Just the level of commitment, the desire [and] the work ethic has really gone up and it’s shown and displayed a lot. In most of our games this year, even the ones where we may not have won and or found success, there’s still this level of competitiveness, this resiliency that our kids just play with. It’s nice to go on a stretch there where they could see the success,” Adeduntan added.

Women’s basketball is an even 4-4 in Patriot League play and 11-8 overall, yet the race in the league’s top half is close, with Loyola University and Lehigh University also sitting at 4-4, just behind the United States Military Academy (Army) and Boston University, each at 5-3

“We knew league play was going to be challenging. We started well and then got a little bump in the road right now. But one of the things for us is we’re saying we’re just good. We’re good as long as we make sure that we fall back on the things that really make us who we are,” Adeuntan said. 

Men’s Basketball

Meanwhile, the men’s team is hitting their stride deep in their Patriot League schedule. They currently sit at 7-1 in Patriot League play, splitting first place with Lafayette College, whom they beat in the Patriot League Championship last March, and the only Patriot League team to beat the Raiders this season. 

While the Raiders are tied for first place in the Patriot League, they boast an impressive 13-8 overall record, leading the league by far. This is particularly notable given the Raiders non-conference schedule this year.

“We played an incredibly challenging [schedule] — the hardest non-conference schedule that we’ve ever played in my time here. I think if you look at the analytical statistics, it’s one of the top 50, maybe top 40 hardest non-conference schedules in the country, so we didn’t win a lot of games because we played a lot of really good teams. I think we found out a lot about ourselves and did have some good wins,” Head Coach Matt Langel said.

Current Colgate students are fortunate to have been privileged to witness an unprecedented period of success for Colgate men’s basketball. The Class of 2024 has seen Colgate basketball win the Patriot League every year and advance to March Madness. Yet Langel emphasized that this success is not a guarantee. 

“It’s something that we talked to the team about as we’ve gone through this journey and this process,” Langel said. “Sam Thompson and Alex Capitano and Jeff Woodward, they’re in the same experience as you: They only know that we’re going to win. It’s dangerous because we have two coaches who never won when they were players and Ryan Moffat and Keegan Records, they lost in the championship game. So they have a little bit of a recollection. It’s very fragile.”

But the perception of Colgate men’s basketball as a championship program is a reality. 

“That is a championship team […]. [They] have a swag and it’s not a bravado, it’s not false, it’s just like [they] expect to win”, American University Head Coach Duane Simpkins said in a press conference following their loss to Colgate on Saturday, Jan. 27. He also compared Colgate to college hoops powerhouses North Carolina and Duke, as all championship teams. 

Langel also sees this perception and cited that Colgate opponents are eager and excited to beat the Raiders, including Iona University, Cornell University and the University of Vermont.

“When we play Iona — that is a really, really good program, Cornell or Vermont — who we beat at Vermont, they’re really excited to beat us. When you’re part of a championship program, there’s obviously a great opportunity to experience great things and accomplish a lot. But there’s also a lot of responsibility,” Langel said. “We talk about those things and in our conference: You have to prepare to get everybody’s best effort because this program has won.” 

The men’s team still has double-digit games to go in Patriot League play, including two more games televised nationwide on CBS Sports on Feb. 3 at home against The United States Naval Academy (Navy) and a chance to avenge the Raiders’ only league loss of the season when they play Lafayette on Feb. 19. 

Basketball on the Big Screen

Over the summer, the Patriot League announced the coverage of multiple regular season basketball games for Colgate, including the opportunity for more games later in the season.

Colgate Athletics Director of Athletics Communications Jordan Doroshenko spoke to the Maroon-News regarding the announcement.

For our student-athletes to compete on the national stage is a tremendous opportunity to shed light on their successes on the court, in the classroom and in the community,” Doroshenko said. “Cotterell Court has been home to some special moments in Colgate Athletics history and we’re fortunate to share many of those with the national audience. We are pleased with the Patriot League’s efforts to secure this opportunity for a variety of varsity athletics programs.”

This was the first opportunity for Colgate women’s basketball to be featured on national television. Adenduntan commented on the Jan. 22 experience against Lehigh.

“It was something that once I found out about it in the fall, I got really excited about it because not every day do teams get nationally televised for their sport. It’s special,” Adenduntan said. “I do really think it’s special for the Patriot League to be able to help find and give us an opportunity. I didn’t talk about it with our team though but among our staff, we talked about it and how special it is […]. I think it’s pretty awesome that we were able to be Colgate women’s basketball and get a little bit of national publicity.”

Meanwhile, for the men’s team, while their nationally televised game on Jan. 22. was a big moment, this is not their first time in the spotlight. CBS Sports broadcasts the Patriot League championship game and both semifinal games each year. The Raiders have also had multiple regular season games broadcast nationally over the last few years. Not to mention the attention they’ve received from their March Madness appearances.

Langel commented on the team’s opportunity to be broadcast nationally on Jan. 22.

“It being on national TV is an additional reason each game is important. You’re on the broadcast that can be seen not on streaming but [rather] there’s a big production truck out there. And so that’s relevant, right? I get more messaging from alumni and former players and people on those nationally televised games than I do when we’re just streaming on ESPN+ […]. It’s a chance to show everything that Colgate is in the best possible light that we can,” Langel said.

Each coach spoke on the energy their supporters and fans bring to their teams.

“We want more [students]. But we can’t ask for more until we do our part to just truly deserve more,” Adeduntan said. “It’s nice to see our community come out […]. We’ve got to make sure that we’re doing our part so that when people come watch us play, even the people that were here from the students and the in the community, we want to give them something they’re excited to come back to. We’re going to keep doing our part so that hopefully that fan base continues to grow.”

Meanwhile, the men’s basketball team is privileged to have strong support, something Langel stated was notably absent in the teams’ contests over winter break. 

It gets too quiet. The last two home games, there have been students back, and that’s a huge part of our success is that buzz and excitement for college basketball and people coming to the games and making noise and having fun.”

The men’s and women’s teams have some crucial games left to play in the regular season. The full schedules for each team can be found at https://colgateathletics.com.

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About the Contributor
Caroline Michaud, Sports Editor
Caroline Michaud is a senior from Lexington, MA concentrating in political science and religion. She has previously served as a staff writer for the Sports section. On campus, Caroline is involved in a Greek letter organization.

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