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The news that keeps us Onward On!
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The news that keeps us Onward On!

The Carroll News

The news that keeps us Onward On!

The Carroll News

Men’s basketball team ‘shoots for the stars’ with unbeatable conference record

Comments from Head Coach Pete Moran, Power forward Luka Eller and guard Connor O’Toole reveal the team’s push for continuing their teamwork and determination for the 2023-24 NCAA tournament.
Peter Wangechi, JCU Sports Information
Luka Eller has made a difference on the court for the Blue Streaks, adding even more height and athleticism to John Carroll’s strategy.

John Carroll’s Men’s Basketball team puts the streak in “Blue Streaks” with their impressive conference record of 10-0 for the 2023-24 season. Before the first home game, Head Coach Pete Moran ‘08 sat down with The Carroll News to describe the team dynamic and how the season kicked off. 

“We have some veterans in the locker room…guys that had tremendous amounts of success last year. I think they came into this season focused and determined.”

Moran explained that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) 2023 tournament left a “bitter taste” because the season was cut short. Nonetheless, this motivated the boys to “work their tails off this summer,” opening the season with electricity. “We were able to hit the ground running this far in the short season.”

When asked about the team’s chemistry, Moran told the Carroll News that the early season was off to a promising start. “I think last year, we had so many new faces that it took a little time for our guys to gel together both on and off the court. I think [we] are starting to see the cohesiveness and that shows with not only the win and loss column but I see that in the locker room first-hand.” 

According to Moran, the team’s goal-setting includes not only climbing the ranks but also prioritizing the health and needs of the players. 

“When you return 95% of your roster from the previous year and that previous year you had success, I would be foolish to say that our goals weren’t the highest of goals. I think it’s important to note that we have other goals. It’s as simple as taking care of your bodies, getting proper sleep [and] taking care of your minds.”

Coach Moran highlighted the sportsmanship of the teammates on the bench for contributing to the success of the team’s early season. “They’re not seeing the nets but they’re involved in the game—they’re excited. I think seeing that energy translates to the guys on the court, especially being on the road the first four games. To have those guys taking care of each other is instrumental.”

Power forward Luka Eller ‘24 and guard Connor O’Toole ‘24 concurred with Coach Moran’s encouraging sentiments about the team’s bond and success this early into the season.

“I don’t know if I’d still be playing if it wasn’t for the guys on the team we have right now. We’re all together for five to six months. It’s a long season, so you want that good environment around you,” said Eller. 

Compared to last season, Eller revealed that the team has tweaked their mindset going into gameday. “We take it one game at a time. I don’t think we did that well enough last year. [We] overlooked a couple of teams that we probably should have beat.”

When breaking down the goals of the Blue Streaks, Eller listed the three principal goals as winning the Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) regular season, the OAC conference tournament and the NCAA championship. As for sub-goals, Eller remarked that the Blue Streaks are adamant about strengthening their defense, rebounding and taking care of themselves to perform the best that they can. 

“Coach wants us to out-rebound every team that we play, so that’s a big goal for us. He gives us little goals every game to try to achieve,” Eller concluded. 

Unlike Eller who transferred to John Carroll his junior year, O’Toole has played for the Blue Streaks since freshman year. Upon reflecting on the past three years, O’Toole mentioned that some of the relationships were built before stepping on the John Carroll courts.

“This year, there are only three players [who] weren’t a part of the team last year. There was a big period where everyone was trying to get to know each other…this year there’s not as much as that. We’ve all been together for a while,” O’Toole told The Carroll News.

According to O’Toole, a handful of Blue Streaks played in the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU)  during elementary school and middle school, including O’Toole and Eller. “We’re all very familiar with each other both on and off the court,” said O’Toole.

When acknowledging that the first games of the season are usually “up in the air,” O’Toole expressed his pleasure with the camaraderie of the team and looks forward to growing for the national championship in March. 

“We’re not always going to play our best every single game, but as long as we can find ways to pick up slack…we all have each other’s back. The goal is, once it’s March, we are [at] our best,” O’Toole concluded.

With an emphasis on teamwork, the Men’s Basketball team is determined to shoot for the stars. Highlights and statistics of the early season are published on John Carroll Sports website.

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