The phrase "game changer" gets tossed around as easily as a Royals student-athlete might pass a ball to a teammate. Yet any Royals basketball player saying those two words in the coming season is welcome to the cliché. Not only are they moving into the new Levine Center for Wellness and Recreation for training and games, but both the men's and women's teams also have new coaches.
Women's team player Shonice Pettaway is eager to start under Coach Susan Yow. "I am looking forward to being able to start fresh," said the junior from Walstonburg, NC. "I am also looking forward to having Coach Yow push all of her players to be and perform at their best."
Incoming men's coach Bart Lundy already has quite the record at Queens. He led the Royals to two Elite Eight and, in his final season, the Royals made it to the semifinals of the national tournament. As coach from 1997-2003, he led Queens to a combined 115-41 record. He remembers standing room only home games in the old Ovens Athletic Center and is eager to experience that same excitement in the new Levine Center.
Amazing institution that's "on the move"
Lundy left Queens to coach at High Point, then Marquette, then North Texas, before returning this summer. "Queens is a place that I love, it's a place that I missed when I wasn't here, and it's a place that has grown into an even more amazing institution than when I left 11 years ago," he said. "It feels like home."
New women's coach Susan Yow won't be driving far from her home. She was just down the road at Belmont Abbey College for the past six seasons. She brings 35 years of coaching experience to Queens. "I sensed Queens was on the move as a university," Yow said.
Director of Athletics Jeannie King described Yow as a women's basketball guru. "She is a true teacher of the sport. Her basketball knowledge has enormous depth."
Yow gained that knowledge as a player, then coaching in NCAA Division I programs and the WNBA. She even won three gold medals coaching for Team USA.
Lundy may not have the medals, but seven of his former players are at this summer's NBA camp. King said, "he not only knows what it takes to compete at the highest level, but he can also lead the way because he's been there. He has a passion to win, and he knows how to compete."
Skill, talent and character development
Both coaches promise to work their teams hard and develop student athletes of good character while they're at it. Building on the tight knit camaraderie of the 13 returning men's players, Lundy promises a "program that will outwork everyone else." Also, "we're a program that does the right things all the time, on and off the floor," he said. "I want to develop [the players] not only to be good athletes and good students, but also good men."
Yow describes her style as skills focused. "First and foremost, I'm a teacher of the game. Practice is our classroom as well as preparation time for each contest. It is about working with a student-athlete who desires to develop the talent and skills they possess."
New home for hoops
Brent Evans, a communications major from Beaufort, S.C., sees the Levine Center's weight and training rooms and three basketball courts as an advantage in this season of change. "I look forward to starting a great legacy in a new building, and it starts the day we get back to campus," he said.
Coaching in the Levine Center was a draw for both Yow and Lundy. The new facility demonstrates "the value Queens places on the experience of its student-athletes," said Yow.
Lundy agreed. "We're going to be able to take care of and develop our student-athletes in ways we never could before," he said, adding it will draw new fans too. "It's a place where people are going to want to come out to a game."
A new conference
In case the coaching and facility changes weren't enough to keep everyone busy, there's one more. The Royals have moved into the South Atlantic Conference. "With the combination of opening the new Levine Center and moving to the South Atlantic Conference, we are well positioned for a successful journey ahead," King said.
The other teams in the NCAA Division II conference include Brevard College, Catawba College, Lenoir-Rhyne University, Tusculum College, and Wingate University. Queens joined the 38-year-old conference in July 2013 along with Coker College making it a group of 12 private, liberal and civic arts colleges and universities.