GAME DAY FEATURE: Langston Galloway
Nov. 12, 2012
by Nikki Philpot
The pregame clock ticks the final 10 seconds away before the buzzer sounds for the beginning of the 2012-13 Saint Joseph's men's basketball season. Five Hawks walk onto the floor, part of a team picked first in the Atlantic 10's preseason poll.
That's right - first.
It makes sense. Saint Joseph's returns 12 standouts from a team that reached both the A-10 Tournament and NIT First Round last season.
But is it really the same team?
The same bodies fill the Crimson and Gray jerseys, but there is a noticeable difference with this team. An atmosphere of determination and intensity surround the group of focused players.
And one player in particular, a junior guard, has had a confidence-boosting experience.
This player, who has made tremendous growth in his first two seasons at Saint Joseph's, wanted to make a status of his very own here on Hawk Hill. As the whistle blows and play begins, it is evident that he has.
This standout is Langston Galloway, the captain of the 2012-13 Saint Joseph's Hawks.
Galloway, a two-year starter and lifelong genuine person, was voted captain of the squad by his teammates. The trust in both his playing ability and character hits the heart for the junior captain.
"It's definitely an honor knowing that everybody's behind me and that they know what I can do," he said. "They know that I lead by example and they believe that we're all with each other as a team."
Galloway acts as any successful captain acts - he works hard every day, whether in practice or games, in order get a little bit better each day. He isn't going to be the type of captain who is vocally loud, but he doesn't need to be. He works hard and his teammates follow that example. That's all he needs to do to lead his team.
Regardless of his captaincy, the Hawks' starting guard is the first to say that it's not all about him, no matter what kind of leadership role he embraces. Galloway believes in the power of team - this team.
"We're not just one person, so I can't take any credit as to what's going to go on this year. It's all going to be as a team," he explained.
One thing is for certain, though - expectations are high going into the new campaign. The 2012-13 season could be remarkable one, as this particular team has already been compared to the 2003-04 dream team headlined by SJU legends Jameer Nelson and Delonte West.
First, take a look at the fact that last season's Hawks, a team that collected only 11 wins two seasons ago, was one of just nine teams in the entire nation to go from a 20-plus-loss season to a 20-plus-win season. Now consider that this team is not just picked to finish first, but is picked first in an Atlantic 10 Conference that, with the additions of Butler and VCU, is the strongest it has ever been. It speaks volumes to everyone involved, from the coaches to the spectators, from the fans to the players.
And, of course, the captain.
"I felt a lot of excitement," Galloway said of learning his team's preseason accomplishment, but that was the limit of his celebration. "That's just what people think of us. We know the job isn't done, so we just have to go into every game knowing that the bull is on our backs and that we have to play hard."
Playing hard has never been a problem for the Hawks. The struggles were due to the inevitable lack of collegiate experience that accompanies a bigger-than-average recruiting class of massive talent. The team was one of the youngest in the nation last season, but 12 of those players are returning this year, older and improved with an air of experienced accomplishment. Seven of those 12 players averaged 20 or more minutes per game last season, while four of those seven players averaged double digits over the course of SJU's 34 games in 2011-12.
Galloway reflects on the difference in team play from his freshman to sophomore season, explaining that during his freshman year, everyone was learning. With five freshmen in the rotation on a consistent basis, they could only predict what they could do and where they could go.
That was two seasons ago.
And then last year - it clicked. They knew what they had from the start.
"We had everybody back going into last season and we all had been working hard the summer before," Galloway said. "Last year it clicked and we started to have fun, relax, and play ball."
And this season, the fun, relaxed basketball returns.
"It's a lot of experience right there," said Galloway of his group of teammates. "It's another year with everybody, and we all know what we can do. We're definitely just trying to prepare and learn even more this year."
After a slight pause, a smile came over Galloway's face as he added, "...and have fun. That's the main thing."
Fun? It's hard to believe that this competitive ball player drives to have fun, but think about it. How could he not have fun with a team like this? The talent is incredible.
Reflecting on what the squad did last season, it's amazing to think of this season's possibilities. Even more phenomenal is the thought of Galloway topping his sophomore season. The 6-foot-2 guard led the Atlantic 10 in three-point shooting, averaging 2.66 three-pointers per game, and ranked second on the squad in scoring with 15.5 points. He didn't stop with team and league accomplishments, though. Galloway shot 46.6 percent from three-point range, which ranked him fourth in the nation.
The junior captain was a highlight reel in and of himself in 2011-12, but when asked about his most memorable moment from last season, Galloway responds with a typical Galloway answer - not because of the response but because of the meaning behind it.
"When we played Creighton and Villanova," he answered.
It makes sense. Galloway slammed down a dunk with two seconds remaining against #19/17 Creighton to lift the Hawks to a win over a ranked opponent for the first time since 2008. Against Villanova, Galloway led the team with 20 points to help Saint Joseph's post a 74-58 win over Villanova in front of a standing-room-only crowd at Hagan Arena to mark the first time that the Philadelphia Big 5 rivals had played on SJU's campus.
Any one of those individual accomplishments would make sense for his answer, but that's not why the captain chose those two games. He selected the games against Creighton and Villanova because they presented him with two challenges - the challenge to prepare and the challenge to perform.
"They were both on the weekends and they were so spread apart that we just knew we had to take care of Creighton first and then take care of Villanova the next week," he explained. "It's easier for the team to prepare, but it's tougher because you have one game one week and then one the next week. You have to wait and then you lose your rhythm."
Do you know what made last season even more memorable for Galloway?
You. The fans.
Eight of 17 home games were sold out during the 2011-12 season. The captain speaks confidently on behalf of his team when he talks about the significance of those 4,200 seats being filled time and time again.
"It's exciting knowing that everybody's out there supporting us," he said. "It makes us play even better because they're behind us and we have all that support."
When Galloway performs, the seats are filled. When Galloway practices for those performances, sometimes it's just him, alone in Hagan Arena. We've already established that he works hard day in and day out for practices and games, so what does he do when the lights aren't on him?
"I shoot and work on my technique," he revealed. "I pretty much just focus on getting reps. That's all you can do in basketball: get your reps up and focus on the next shot."
With a target on his back after his all-star-caliber first two seasons, Galloway will be forced to make adjustments to his game. Due to the fact that he's known for his consistent three-point shooting and dangerously effective jumpers, the standout guard will look to drive to the basket more this season to make for easier buckets and draw more fouls. After leading the league in free throws as a freshman, Galloway inadvertently strayed away from that offensive category last season (although he made up for it in three-point shooting) and will focus on adding that driving component to his game once more.
With one exhibition game under their belts, the Hawks kick off the regular season with this evening's Coaches vs. Cancer Classic game against Yale. Galloway urges fans to come out and support the Hawks all season, predicting that it will be an exciting one and ending his message to the fans with two selfless words of inspiration that both players and fans can appreciate:
If his character as both a player and person give any insight into the future, one thing is inarguably certain: the Hawks are in good hands thanks to the leadership of captain Langston Galloway.