Stritch alums helping Lourdes basketball climb the ladder

Yaneek Smith

Press Sports Editor

Joey Holifield and Little Anderson helped strengthen and build upon the foundation of the basketball program under the guidance of Jamie Kachmarik at Cardinal Stritch.
It’s safe to say the duo has done themselves one better as they’ve helped to rebuild the foundation of the basketball program at Lourdes University with local legend Dennis Hopson.
The Gray Wolves are 16-6 and 10-4 in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference, good for second place. Indiana Tech, which is ranked 11th in the NAIA, is first with an 11-2 record in the league.
Lourdes, which has won six of its last seven games, defeated the Warriors, 85-83, the second year in a row in which the Wolves have upset the top team in the conference.
The key play of the game was a 3-pointer by Anderson with 40.6 seconds to play that put Lourdes up for good. Holifield had another great game, finishing with 30 points to lead all scorers on 9-of-16 shooting. He also led the team with five assists and grabbed four rebounds.
The Wolves’ most recent win, a 72-62 victory over Aquinas (Michigan), saw Holfield score a team-high 19 points while grabbing eight rebounds. Jackie Harris, a Toledo native who attended St. Francis, finished with 18 points and eight rebounds. Clif Snow, a solid contributor all season, had 15 points and a team-high nine rebounds with Anderson finishing with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting.
“I’m optimistic about where we are. I think that we’ve had some injuries to some key players, and that never helps. We’re doing some patch work; we’re playing guys in positions that they probably wouldn’t be playing in, and we’re getting by,” said Hopson. “We beat some good teams like Indiana Tech and Rochester. The guys are confident in what we do; we’ve just got to continue to do what we’ve been doing.”
Harris leads the team in scoring with an average of 16.6 points per game, followed by Holifield (16.2), Anderson (13.0) and Snow (9.6).
Harris transferred from Wayne State in Detroit and Snow is from Middletown.
“I like them,” Hopson said of the quartet. “I think the guys are committed to what we’re doing – those guys are happy to be where they are – they’re brothers to one another. I’m fortunate as a coach to have those guys as part of our program because they do so much.”
Hopson spoke specifically about Anderson, one of his first recruits, and Holifield, who played at Oakland University in Detroit before transferring to the Sylvania school.
“They both bring a lot of experience. Little is a guy that I recruited, and he started as a freshman,” said Hopson. “He’s an all-league player, knows what he needs to do, and he’s gotten better every year. He’s embraced who he is and what the expectations are, and he’s gotten better.
“Joey has always been a talent like Little, He started off at the Division I level, and when he approached me, I never thought he’d be playing with us at Lourdes. The biggest thing is he wanted to be here. He was first-team in the WHAC (last season) and was the Newcomer of the Year in the conference.”
In four seasons, Hopson has built the foundation of the program, going 69-31 (.690) and 42-20 in the WHAC. “You always have to be the best you can be. You put a lot of pressure on yourself to be the best you can be,” he said. “You’ve got to embrace pressure — if you don’t, I think you’ll set yourself up for failure. Last year, we won the first conference tournament championship and lost to Olivet Nazarene (in the NAIA tournament) at the buzzer.” That team, which went 24-8 and 13-7 in the conference, upset Indiana Tech 85-83 in the tournament semifinals before defeating Madonna 79-61 to earn a spot in the NAIA Tournament.
The loss to Nazarene came when on Tyler Schmidt’s baseline jumper as time expired saw the Wolves, who won 24 games last season, rally from a 10 point deficit in the second half before Charles Swain hit a 3-pointer to tie the score at 88-88 with under 10 seconds to play. The heartbreaking defeat has fueled Lourdes.
“You don’t put it past you. Anytime you lose, you survey the situation, figure out why you lost, and make adjustments so you don’t lose the same way,” said Hopson. “We don’t sit around and talk about that type of thing for motivation, but the players, they should be mature enough to use situations like that to build on.”
But Hopson knows that basketball comes secondary to getting an education at Lourdes, a private Franciscan university that was established in 1958. The school is home to just over 1,100 students.
“I always say, ‘It’s not about the sport, it’s what the sport can do for you.’ You’re a student first, athlete second. The sport is going to teach you how to be a man, how to be accountable, how to be articulate when it’s time for you to speak in front of the camera,” he said. “The chances of you becoming a professional athlete are slim. We’re going to do everything through that sport. I learned that because I didn’t have those kinds of expectations at Ohio State. I never thought I’d be a pro athlete or the all-time leading scorer. Had I not gone to Ohio State, I probably would’ve gotten a job at Jeep out of high school, and I would be retired right now. I would use this game for what it is — use it to get a degree. And that’s the only thing we should be thinking about right now.”
Hopson has two assistant coaches – Jake Dupree, a Lourdes alum, and Steve Corggens. (Brady Perry, also a Lourdes graduate, is the graduate assistant.)
“You’ve got six ears and six eyes. I put pressure on them, I’m going to hold them accountable,” said Hopson. “I’m the head man, I’m only as good as the people around me. They mean a lot; we all bring something to the table. Without them, I don’t think we would be as successful as we are. I’ve been around Steve forever, and I met Jake when I got hired here. There’s nothing he doesn’t know about the university. They’re both very professional.”
Hopson, who coached as an assistant at Bowling Green from 2009-14, is still Ohio State’s all-time leading scorer. The Bowsher alum also won an NBA championship with the Chicago Bulls in 1991. He was recently honored when his home street, Elysian Street, which is located perpendicular to Door Street and Nebraska Avenue, was named in his honor.


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