Jan. 25, 2005
PHILADELPHIA - By Brian W. Ferrie '98
Born in Kretniga, Lithuania, Arvydas Lidzius is living a dream. A 6-9 sophomore forward for the Hawks, Lidzius came to the United States at age 17 and graduated from Montrose Christian School in Rockville, MD, about 20 minutes outside Washington, DC.
"I wanted to come to America to study and play basketball," said Lidzius, who did not pick up the sport until he was in fifh grade in his native Lithuania. "[Montrose Christian] had a good reputation for academics and was a good school for basketball. I think they have had about 100 players go on to play in Division I."
As the sixth man for Montrose his senior year (2002-03), Lidzius averaged 8.0 points and 4.0 rebounds a game for a team that posted a 20-1 record and was arguably the best in the Metro DC area. So good, in fact, that five of Lidzius' former teammates played ball for NCAA Division I schools during the 2003-04 season.
When it came time to make his college choice, Lidzius picked Saint Joseph's over American University and Coastal Carolina University.
"Saint Joseph's was probably the only place I really wanted to go to," he said. "I didn't feel as comfortable at the other places. All the people here are so nice and really care about other people. It's a small school, which I wanted, it's good academically and it has a great basketball program, with a good coach and good players. It's exactly what I was looking for."
Lidzius joined the Hawks just in time to participate in the most dominant season in school history, including an undefeated regular season, school-record 30 wins, Atlantic 10 regular-season title and Elite Eight appearance in the NCAA tournament.
"Last year]was just an awesome experience," he related. "I never thought it could happen. It's really hard to describe [the feeling] unless you were a part of it. It was the best basketball experience I've had in my life."
Lidzius played in 20 games for the Hawks last season, registering 18 points and 23 rebounds in 95 minutes. He has played a greater role for the team so far this year, seeing time in seven out of nine games and compiling 14 points and 10 rebounds in 55 minutes.
When asked to describe his strengths as a player, Lidzius commented, "For a big guy, I think I run pretty well, and my shooting is getting better. My defense has definitely improved a lot since got here too. My rebounding [at this point] is not great; it's something I need to work on but is getting better too."
Team player that he is, Lidzius has set no specific statistical goals for himself this season.
"I'm an unselfish person," he stated, "So I really don't worry about myself. The question I ask is, 'what can I do to make the team better?' Because the more we win, the better I'll be as a player and the better my teammates will be too."
That said, Lidzius does have a general idea of the player he would like to become.
"I want to be a guy who can play in the post and on the wing," he explained. "Because the more positions you can play, the harder you are to guard."
Like everyone else associated with the program, Lidzius is not happy about the team's 3-6 start to this season.
"We're not doing that well so far, but I know this team will do whatever it takes to get better," he said. "And we definitely are improving, but we're not where we need to be yet. Our turnovers are killing us. There were a couple games where we were close but because of turnovers we let the other team get away from us, and it's tough to come back. We also need to improve our communication on offense and defense. Those are the things that have been big problems so far. But we're getting better at them, which is why the team is getting better."
If everyone else on the team has an attitude like Lidzius does, this year's Hawks certainly won't be held back by lack of effort.
"No matter where I am or what time it is, I'm going to do whatever it takes to help us win the conference championship and make the NCAA Tournament again," he concluded.