Longwood Basketball Q & A Pt. 2: Men’s team set to play overseas
Published 12:30 am Monday, July 31, 2023
As we mentioned Sunday, it’s an exciting time for the Longwood men’s basketball team. The Lancers brought in a number of freshmen and transfers for the upcoming season, they’re getting ready to open a new facility and this week, they’ll travel across the ocean to compete against some European teams.
In part two of a Q & A, Coach Griff Aldrich answers more questions about the trip, the facility and why he thinks it is that Virginia teams don’t want to play the Lancers.
Q. One area where we’ve seen a real impact from the success of the last two seasons is scheduling. To be blunt, a lot of programs, including ones around Virginia, simply don’t want to play against Longwood. What do you make of that?
A. The challenges with scheduling for us have gotten exponentially more difficult over the past 2-3 years. It’s the optics of playing a lesser-known but up-and-coming program — your fan base expects you to win, so there’s very little upside, but the downside is real because there’s a legitimate risk you may lose.
So we’ve had more challenges finding quality games with regional opponents that our fans would be familiar with. But that’s just what happens when you’re building a program. I feel confident we’re going to have a really good set of games for fans as they start to discover the Joan Perry Brock Center, and prepare us well for the intensity of conference play once we get into the new calendar year.
Q. Speaking of the JPB, what is the new Joan Perry Brock Center going to mean for Longwood basketball?
A. The university and the athletic department, certainly the basketball programs, have really been trying to elevate the overall level of our men’s and women’s programs. A big obstacle historically has been facilities. With the JPB coming online next month, it eliminates our biggest obstacle to attracting high-level student-athletes. However, part of building a program is just doing everything at a high level, operating with excellence. When you do that it reverberates throughout the program.
The JPB absolutely reflects excellence throughout the facility. As a player, it will be impossible to walk into the new building and not feel like what you do is valued and the work you’re doing matters.
It’s going to be huge for the growth of our program. It really signals to our players that Longwood is trying to be excellent in all we do. But it also signals to the outside world this is a really attractive place to go play basketball, and to go watch a high-level college basketball game.
Q. Let’s talk travel. On August 1, the team leaves on a 10-day, donor-funded trip to England and France that will include educational programming, as well as three games against French club teams. This is something the NCAA allows a program to undertake periodically. What’s the value of a trip like this, both on and off the court?
A. First, it’s just an incredible opportunity for our young men who at an institution of higher learning gain an experience that as a student-athlete they might not otherwise get. Most student-athletes don’t have the opportunity to take a semester abroad, or even really to go abroad over the summer because of practice. From an educational perspective, it’s an incredible opportunity to broaden their perspectives.
They’ve been taking a class this summer (International Studies 100, taught by Dr. Emily Kane, Longwood’s director of study abroad and associate director for global engagement) that will help prepare them for the trip and also serve as part of the Global Citizenship Pillar in the Civitae curriculum. Many of them haven’t been out of the country before. This will be a life-altering experience with their friends and their teammates – visiting Paris, seeing the D-Day site in Normandy, just experience two new cultures.
That’s first and foremost. On top of that, if you go back to our goal of chemistry and connectedness that we’re trying to build in the summer, there’s probably no better way to do that than a trip abroad – just the time together, the time on the tours. Its’ an opportunity for them to really get to know one another and build deep rich bonds that go well beyond the game of basketball.
From a basketball perspective, it means some more focused practice and a chance to play together sooner against good, and different, competition. We’re talking constantly about our culture and how we want to play as Longwood basketball. This will give us three great opportunities to worry less about, say, our shooting percentages, and focus more on learning how we compete as a team.
Just pulling this off is also a statement about where we are with the program, along with the JPB coming online. Doing these types of trips is what higher-level programs are able to do. We’re blessed that this is a fully donor-funded trip. It’s the generosity of our donors that allows us to do this. But that’s a significant and visible step forward for Longwood basketball.
Editor’s note: To read the first part of this Q & A, just click here.