McAndrews Drops Knowledge, Buckets

After a
rough patch during December and January threatened to derail the season, the
Pomona-Pitzer men’s basketball team has rebounded well the last few
weeks. Wins over the University of La Verne Feb. 7 and Occidental College Feb. 10 have seen the Sagehens (8-13, 6-6 SCIAC) move up to fifth in the conference
standings, giving them hope of at least making noise in the postseason
tourney.

With an injury crisis blighting the team, several key players have stepped up during the recent turnaround, and few have been more vital
than senior guard Kyle McAndrews PO ’15. His 16.6 ppg average is good for second best on the team, and he has been the catalyst
behind P-P’s more impressive results, including converting a late three-point play to down Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 58-57 Jan. 24.

While his form has been impressive, it is hardly unprecedented for McAndrews,
who is on the verge of wrapping up an exceptional collegiate career. McAndrews established himself as a regular starter in his first season on the team. 

A regular starter since his first season, McAndrews was selected for second-team All-SCIAC honors his sophomore year and exploded last season,
averaging nearly 18 ppg, grabbing a spot on the All-SCIAC first
team and winning recognition as Pomona-Pitzer’s Male Athlete of the Year. When
asked about the last honor, McAndrews made sure to
spread credit among his strong supporting cast.

“Those awards would not be given to a
player on a struggling team,” McAndrews said. “They are great recognition for the hard work and
success of our team as a whole.”

McAndrews’
dedication to the team has been especially tested this year,
with P-P’s relatively young squad forced to cope with health issues at the
season’s start. McAndrews was tasked with
helping the team regroup, a responsibility that he readily accepted.

“I
have really appreciated the opportunity to lead,” McAndrews said. “The younger guys do a great
job being open to advice. The adversity during December and
January helped bring us together, and hopefully it will serve us well
throughout the remainder of the season.” 

A lot of McAndrews’ leading has been
done through example, and is especially evident in his strong work ethic.

“He makes sure that we never let down and that we don’t take possessions off,” center Mitchell Finkel PO ’17 said. “He leads by example because he never takes possessions off on offense or defense, and if any of us start to take a possession off, he’ll get on us right away. He always works hard and doesn’t take any days off.”

As well as being a leader, McAndrews is a role model for his younger teammates.

“[McAndrews has] taken a lot of the younger guys under his wing and helped them improve,” assistant coach Scott Waterman said.

Finkel recalls McAndrews being welcoming and helping him to grow as a player in his first year on the team.

“Right from the beginning he made me feel really included with everybody,” Finkel said. “He’s always really motivational and gets on us to keep working.”

McAndrews’ strengths extend to both the offensive and defensive sides of the court.

“[McAndrews’]
ability to create shots both for himself and for his teammates is something
that we rely on intensely as a team,” forward Gibson Farone-Collins PO ’16 said. “I have had the pleasure of
watching him improve immensely over the last three years to the point where he
is often called upon to guard the opposing team’s best player. He’s an
excellent communicator on the court.”

For his
part, McAndrews attributes his improvements as both a player and a team leader
to the support of the coaching staff, led by head coach Charles Katsiaficas. 

“Our coaching staff does a great job
helping both the team and the individual get better. [Katsiaficas] has a
lot of experience and takes a similar approach to each year, even with the
different challenges that we face,” McAndrews said.

Ahead of all personal accolades, though, McAndrews names the big rivalry
matches against CMS as his favorite part of his collegiate journey.

“The energy from our student section makes for an
awesome experience,” McAndrews said. “The CMS games we win are my best memories.” 

With a final
regular season match against the Stags looming next Tuesday, McAndrews has the
chance to sign off in style in what will likely be the last game he plays in
the Rains Center. Although McAndrews might be difficult to replace, he and his fellow seniors will leave a strong legacy. 

“[The seniors] are all among the first ones in the gym
every day, and they’re the ones getting extra shots up after practice or on off-days,” Farone-Collins said. “They’re all very generous with their advice for the freshmen, which has
allowed the quality of our practices to increase tremendously. They all take
so much pride in Sagehen basketball, and it shows with their leadership on and
off of the court.”

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