SAN ANTONIO (Oct. 30, 2020) – The Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) men's basketball team will begin its 12th season and third year under Head Coach Chris Dial the first week of November with two games in New Orleans. The Saints feature 13 seniors, each of whom will provide a strong leadership foundation for this season.
Dial expects the season to be hectic but also is fortunate to be able to play given the current circumstances, "There are a lot of underlying intangibles to deal with. Multiple schools have experienced budget cuts, and we will need to rely on our team to provide the energy given that there are no fans currently allowed."
OLLU lost a valuable player last season – Michael Saladin – who graduated in May. Dial commented on the leadership Saladin brought, "He is really missed on the court. The players miss him, and he leaves a void in the gym. He was a likable guy. Michael was definitely a leader and an efficient player." Saladin plans to play professional basketball overseas.
The Saints start the season in New Orleans against Dillard University (DU) (2-1) on Nov. 2 and Loyola University of New Orleans the following day – both games are set for 7 p.m. On Nov. 12, the team will be in Plainview, Texas, for a match against Wayland Baptist University (4-2), followed by a game in Fort Worth, Texas, on Nov. 23 against Texas Wesleyan University (6-6). The Saints pulled out an incredible 138-127 win in double overtime against the Rams last season in front of a packed home crowd.
OLLU will travel to Waxahachie, Texas, for a game against Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) on Nov. 24. The Saints are 6-5 against the Lions – the No. 22-ranked team in the NAIA.
The Saints will spend the rest of November and December on an NCAA D1 exhibition schedule. Featured teams include the University of North Dakota, University of the Incarnate Word, Rice University, University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley, Texas State University, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and the University of Texas at San Antonio. "The number of Division I teams we will face will prepare us for the conference schedule later in the season," Dial commented.
Currently, every team in the Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC) is planning to play the conference schedule. Dial has talked to several coaches in the conference and feels that every team has improved during the offseason. "LSU-Shreveport, LSU-Alexandria and Texas A&M-Texarkana are among the top teams this season," he mentioned.
The Saints hope to improve their conference play from the 2019-2020 season, which has been a point of emphasis for Dial and the coaching staff leading up to this year.
OLLU will begin conference play on Jan. 4 at Hobbs, N.M., against the University of the Southwest (USW) (18-6). They will open their home schedule on Jan. 7 against Texas A&M University – Texarkana (1-1) and on Jan. 9 against Wiley College (16-9). They will continue their conference schedule through Feb. 20 after which the postseason conference tournament will begin.
According to Dial, the Saints' 13 seniors are expected to lead the team to its first RRAC Tournament appearance under Dial. The senior class includes Jordan Embry (SR/Paris, Texas), Cameron Fields (SR/Kerrville, Texas), Christian Fields (SR/Kerrville, Texas), Tyler Giron (SR/Houston, Texas), Carlson Goode (SR/Blythewood, S.C.), David Johnson (SR/McAllen, Texas), Calvin Kintu (SR/London, England), Amiel Lewis (SR/Houston, Texas)., Darin Minniefield (SR/Houston, Texas), Edvin Tedesjo (SR/Stockholm, Sweden), Ethan White (SR/San Antonio, Texas), transfer Josh Williams (SR/Houston, Texas) and Marlon Williams (SR/Jacksonville, Fla.). White previously played for the Saints in 2018-2019, when he was the second-highest scorer at 13.2 ppg. and had the second most rebounds with 111. "The abundance of seniors will be huge as far as leadership," Dial said. "There will be multiple players who will have a bigger role compared to last season. I am excited about the transfer athletes and our new freshman, David Patterson (FR/Rio Rancho, N.M.)."
One of the Saints' top returners is junior Ruben Monzon (JR/San Diego, Calif.), who led the team with 218 rebounds and 29 steals last season. "We will lean heavily on Monzon to produce and play a lot of minutes this season," Dial said. "I am excited for White to be back for his senior season and expect a lot out of him."
Quenton Coleman (SO/San Antonio, Texas) is a sophomore transfer from Southern Nazarene University who the Saints recruited during the offseason. "Quenton is a great player and will help us during the spring when he becomes eligible to play," Dial commented. Dial mentioned that the recruiting process over the summer was especially difficult due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The coaching staff were unable to meet face to face with athletes and relied heavily on game film and talking to coaches, family and friends of the recruits.
Also new to the team, this year is freshman David Patterson, who comes to OLLU after a stint in the U.S. Air Force. At Rio Rancho High School, Patterson was named Gatorade New Mexico Boys Basketball Player of the Year. He led his team to a 20-8 record and the Class 5A quarterfinals while averaging 23.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.3 steals through 28 games. He was also an All-District and an All-Metro honoree. Patterson had the most points per game in the state.
In an abundance of caution, OLLU will not allow spectators to home games. Only a restricted, pre-determined list of personnel will be allowed to attend.
All home matches will be live-streamed through the OLLU Sports Information Office on the athletics YouTube channel, https://www.youtube.com/user/OLLUSaints.