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Men’s Basketball Season Outlook

On May 3, 2016, the men’s Point Loma basketball team faced a major change as Ryan Looney was named the new head coach. Looney came from Seattle Pacific, where he was head coach for the past seven seasons and lead his team to victory not only on the court, but also in the classroom.

“This coming season, our team has one goal and that’s to win our next game one possession at a time,” Looney stated when asked about his hopes and expectations for the upcoming season. “I think it’s too hard to set our sights basically beyond what our next workout is, what our next practice may be and our first game of the season, as we’re still trying to feel each other out and learn and grow.”

Senior shooting guard Mike Planeta agreed. “It’s like [what] coach Looney said: it’s a play at a time… I think if we focus on that, taking it one step at a time… we’ll be fine.”

Despite this being Looney’s first year at PLNU, the team has high hopes for the season. Senior shooting guard Trevor Peterson illustrated in his comment, “This season we have high goals. We know we can be really good, we look really good on paper, especially compared to the rest of the conference, [but] we just have a lot of stuff that we need to put together and we need to get it going together [quickly] because we have our first exhibition at the end of the month… We want to be at least top three in the conference, which I think we definitely can be and we want to compete for the conference title so as long as we can get into that top- two [or] top- three spot. That’s where we want to be.”

With over half the team returning, seven of which are upperclassmen, they are seen as a veteran’s team, which qualifies as one of their strengths along with their shooting consistency. “Our team has great size and there’s a number of guys who can really shoot it from the three-point line,” Looney reported. “I think as the coach, I’ll try to do the best job I can utilizing those two things.”

Peterson also provided his perspective on the team’s potential. “I think overall our strength is we’re going to be patient, we’re going to be smart, we’re going to play the right way.”

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Along with addressing the positives, Planeta attributes their strengths to the coaches and leadership within the team. “We have a coaching staff that really preaches discipline, preaches attention to detail, and I think when it starts from the top, then follows with leadership from the older guys, and then trickles down to the younger guys, I think that’s going to play into our strengths.”

With the change of a new head coach, there are bound to be challenges. Peterson concedes that the team is finding the transition somewhat difficult. “Everything’s new for us. So because we have a new coach, we’re learning a new offense, new defense and he is coming into a new conference.”

Planeta agreed that one of the challenges the team is facing is “coming together and learning the offense as quick as possible.” He also addressed that time and patience would be critical in developing team chemistry on the court. “Right now we’re going through a learning curve and it doesn’t look very good yet, but I think once we all get on the same page, we’ll be fine. The good news is we [have] competitive guys and when you [have] competitive guys, it means they want to win.”

Coach Looney explained what the team was currently focusing on. “Everybody [is] trying to learn as fast as possible and grow in the areas where I think we need to be good [in order] to be successful… Everyone is working hard everyday. I think every guy is trying to put their best foot forward. They’ve been extremely receptive to coaching.”

The change in staff has been perceived as generally positive. In regards to the new coaching approach, Peterson said, “I think the biggest change that some of the returners have noticed is a sense of brotherhood… He’s much more personal than our previous coach was. He likes to interact with us as much as he can, [and] he wants us to have the best experience possible. So whether it’s on the court or in the classroom, he really wants to be a part of everyone’s life and he wants to change how everyone’s thinking about basketball and about what it’s going to be like after basketball.”

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Planeta also felt the coaching difference was for the better. “I think it honestly brings a new hunger. I know Coach Carr was great and he was very disciplined… but I think Coach Looney is kind of dynamic. He is very personable [and] he’s a very, very good coach. He expects a lot out of his players on and off the court.”

Coach Looney himself is excited for what the future of the basketball team will look like and has every intention of putting in his maximum effort to lead the team to its highest potential. “I’m passionate about it. I’m going to work extremely hard at my job every single day… We want all our players to grow as basketball players, but we also want them to be the best student they can possibly be and we want them to grow spiritually while they’re on campus too… the relationships that we’re trying to develop are extremely important. I want all of the players to feel like they can trust me, trust our other coaches, and each other as teammates too… In the future I would hope we can turn ourselves into a program that’s consistently ranked in the top 25 in the country and competing for conference championships and playing in the NCAA tournament.”

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Sara Arsenault

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