|Andy Orr scored his 1,000th point this weekend for Leb Val.
Photo by Lebanon Valley athletics
Lebanon Valley College’s pre-season ranking of No. 2 in the MAC Commonwealth Conference represents a transformation – or several of them.
It’s a transformation of LVC’s program from a losing team (sub-.500 four straight years through 2015) into a title contender.
- MAC Freedom: Misericordia also an early riser
- Salisbury enters men's Top 25
- Moravian forward named to Team of the Week
Underlying that transformation, however, are the individual transformations of the team’s biggest stars, juniors Andy Orr and Sam Light. Both always could put up eye-catching Anumbers, but Orr has gone from a slender freshman prone to getting pushed around in the paint to a junior third-team preseason All-American with a formidable low-post game.
Light, who transferred to LVC last season from Division II Millersville, has been a point guard his whole basketball-playing life. Now, in his second season in Annville, LVC coach Brad McAlester has moved him to the two-guard spot. Light’s 24.6 points per game through Sunday indicate that, too, has been a positive change.
The Flying Dutchmen are poised to reap the benefits of both. Their 2-3 record is deceptive. One of their three losses was in overtime against an impressive Misericordia team– Orr scored his 1,000th point in that game. One was against perennial power Franklin & Marshall. Their other setback came at Division I George Mason, the same program that shocked the sports world 10 years ago with a trip to the Final Four. LVC led that game by 10 at halftime and was within one point with less than nine minutes left. Light and Orr scored 19 and 18 points, respectively. If there is such a thing as a good loss, that was it
“We competed for a long time in that game,” Orr said. “When the buzzer went off (at halftime) and we were up 10, I couldn’t believe this was happening. I thought, ‘Maybe we can pull this off.”
“It was a great opportunity to play against a team like that,” Light said. “Being at a Division I school, the gym was cool, the arena was cool. But once we started playing, it was our five guys and their five guys and it was like being in any other game. It was a neat experience, but at the end, I still expected to win the game.”
Light and his teammates would not have to wait long to taste victory. The Dutchmen swept their home tournament later that week, with Light scoring 62 points in the wins over Penn State Mont Alto and Wesley. That kind of scoring has become expected of Light, who earned first-team All-Commonwealth honors his first year in Annville.
“Sam’s just a scorer,” McAlester said of the six-foot guard. “He does it quickly, almost effortlessly. He gets to the rim, and he also gets fouled a lot.”
Those attributes, plus the availability of point guard Marquis Davis, who transferred in this year from Randolph-Macon, led McAlester to move Light to the 2-spot.
“He’s always been a point guard, but he’s a point guard with a scoring mentality,” McAlester said.
Light, who hails from Lebanon, Pennsylvania and attended LVC basketball camps growing up, said the transition is going well.
“When you’re the point guard, it’s like you’re a coach on the floor,” he said. “At the two, you’re more just playing. It kinda frees you up. It’s going pretty well. I’ve just got to get used to figuring out the offense from a different position, and just getting open without the ball.”
Orr, at 6-foot-7, had different issues when he got to college. He has alleviated those by putting on at least 20 pounds of muscle.
“His first year, he was just getting pushed around a lot,” McAlester said. “Andy’s a post player who can step out and shoot. He’s very difficult to cover, and the way people have always tried to stop him is to beat him up. But he’s just getting better and better, and also bigger and stronger.”
“Ever since I got to college I’ve always been pretty good and scoring the ball, but, my freshman year, I felt like a complete defensive liability,” Orr said. “I couldn’t box out. I’d never really had to play really hard post defense in high school because there really aren’t that many great post players in high school.”
With the physical part of his game now intact, McAlester said, Orr has added yet another dimension. He has always been a good scorer around the basket and a jump shooter with three-point range. Now, he’s getting better at driving and taking defenders off the dribble.
“He was more of a jump-shooter,” McAlester said. “Now he’s starting to step out and put the ball on the floor, which makes him tougher to cover.”
The Dutchmen have yet to play with their team intact this season. Senior captain Travis Conrad is expected back soon from a broken foot. Orr played Sunday with back spasms. Light and Davis are still acclimating to their new position and new team, respectively. LVC appears to have a high ceiling it has not yet approached.
“We’re definitely fun to watch,” McAlester said. “We’ve got to get these little things ironed out, need to keep refining things. We moved Sam to the two. We’ve got Conrad coming back. I think we’re still a work in progress.
Catholic’s Michelle DeSantis scored the 1,000th point of her career in the Cardinals’ 66-60 win Sunday against Coast Guard. The win kept Catholic undefeated through four games this season.
The Salisbury men enjoyed their Thanksgiving dinner a little more, thanks to their road victory over No. 16 Virginia Wesleyan last Tuesday. The Gulls made 18 of 23 free throws while the Marlins made just 8 of 15. Salisbury also forced 15 turnovers, committing just seven.
Scranton’s John Vitkus went for double-doubles in each of the Royals’ three games last week – all wins. He missed just three of his 21 shots in two games of the Cross-County Challenge and was named both tournament MVP and Landmark Conference player of the week
The week ahead
The most interesting matchup of the upcoming week figures to be the women’s clash between Elizabethtown and Moravian, Saturday in Bethlehem, Pa. The 4-0 Blue Jays feature Emily Martin, who leads the Landmark Conference in rebounding with 13.3 per game and is third in scoring at 20 points per game. She’ll battle the Greyhounds’ Camille McPherson, who leads the league in scoring (24.5) and is second in rebounds (11.5).
The Scranton men have a tough week coming up. The Royals will visit Hobart, picked to finish third in the Liberty League, Wednesday at 7 p.m., then host Juniata Saturday at 4 p.m.
Teams in the top half of the MAC Commonwealth Conference will meet this week. In men’s hoops, Lebanon Valley will visit Alvernia Saturday at 3 p.m.; Arcadia hosts Albright at the same time. On the women’s side, first-place Messiah hosts Lycoming Wednesday night at 7. Double-double machine Sara Tarbert leads Stevenson into a road game at Widener Saturday at 1 p.m.
The Swarthmore men will host Dickinson Saturday at 3 p.m. in a formidable Centennial matchup for the league-favorite Garnet.