‘We have a target on our back’: Josiah Hardy, Tigers face challenge

Published 6:12 pm Saturday, February 10, 2024

It was a hard-fought game on Feb. 3, but the Hampden-Sydney Tigers fell just short. The team lost 48-46 to Randolph-Macon in the latest edition of their rivalry, dropping as a result from No. 1 to No. 3 in the national standings. But more than anything, what that game emphasized for Josiah Hardy and his teammates is that they’re going to get every team’s best shot. 

“We know we have a target on our back,” Hardy said. The 6’6” senior forward said the Tigers know they can’t take a night off if they want to reach their goals. 

“We know our goals are way bigger than a ranking,” Hardy said. “We still have something to prove. We haven’t won a conference championship since I’ve been here. We haven’t won a national championship since I’ve been here.” 

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And it’s important to the Ashburn native to meet those goals, as he’s been connected with the school even before he first suited up as a Tiger. He started getting recruited in his junior year of high school, Hardy said, invited to this place called Hampden-Sydney that he knew nothing about. 

“At first I was thinking, an all boys school? It’s not for me, because I went to an all boys school in high school and wanted something different,” Hardy said. “But then I took a visit here my senior year and I was surprised by the environment. Then I got to see a football game and that was a great experience. And then, in talking with the alumni, I saw how this is a brotherhood that extends beyond college. That all appealed to me.” 

Hampden-Sydney Basketball Josiah Hardy

Photo courtesy of Hampden-Sydney College.

Josiah Hardy sees Tigers as good fit

Now Hardy is one of the veteran leaders on a team that even after Saturday’s loss, sit in the Top Five in the nation when it comes to NCAA Division III basketball. He sees himself in the mold of a Jimmy Butler or Andre Iguadala, a defensive leader that can help spark the offense. 

“For me, defense is something I’ve always been good at,” Hardy said. “Being able to lock somebody up, getting a stop is how I get in rhythm and the team follows.” 

Maybe it’s a steal that he can turn into an outlet pass to a teammate. Maybe it’s a block that translates into a three-pointer at the other end. Hardy said he prides himself on doing the “little things”, the stuff that fills up the stat sheet beyond just scoring points. 

That’s actually how he realized Hampden-Sydney College would be a good fit, when he saw Coach Caleb Kimbrough’s defensive sets and realized he could do some great things here. 

“Offense and defense, it just all fits well with my game,” Hardy said. “On the defensive end, playing that man to man, high intensity, I just love it. I want to play fast. I want to get out in transition. We have a lot of talented people on this team and it’s great to be able to see everybody just have their opportunities in this offense.” 

Learning to love the game

Originally, Hardy had his eyes on another sport entirely. His first love was soccer. But over time, basketball took on another meaning. Both of his parents had played varsity in high school and competed in intramurals at college. That love of the sport stayed with them, so each kept just heading down to the court when they had free time. Being able to go out to the court with them as they just shot around on any given day was just a way to connect, Hardy said. 

“When I was eight or nine, my dad would wake me up early in the morning and take me to the court and then afternoons my mom would take me to the court and I just fell in love with it,” Hardy said. “It was a way to bond with my dad and my mom.” 

That love of the game also translates into a friendly rivalry of sorts between father and son. Hardy is a big LeBron fan, while his dad swears Michael Jordan has no equal. All of that turned a young soccer fan into a basketball lover. But Hardy also knows that in order to reach their goals, this team has to stay focused. 

“We know we have the talent to win everything,” Hardy said. “We know what it takes to get to where we want to be. We just need to take it one day at a time. We need to have a mindset of winning each day, of being the best version of ourselves each day. That’s going to help determine if we win or lose.” 

Up next for Hardy and the Tigers

Josiah Hardy and the Tigers handled Randolph on Saturday, Feb. 10, beating the visitors 78-68. You can read more about that here. Now they shift gears and go on the road, heading to Virginia Beach on Wednesday, Feb. 14 for a matchup against Virginia Wesleyan University.