Jackals’ Season Opener Is Friday
Kayla Crosby admits that the preparations for the opening of the Jamestown Jackals’ season in The Basketball League have been “extremely challenging.”
COVID-19 has seen to that.
Yet the team owner and Russell native says that she’s “really excited” about the 24-game schedule, which kicks off Friday and Saturday at the Warren YMCA.
“Doors are opening and we are figuring things out,” she said.
Crosby has had to do so on the fly, because not only was the 2020 campaign cut short because of the pandemic, but the Jackals’ former home, the Physical Education Complex at Jamestown Community College, has also not been available for public use.
But Crosby pushes on in her sixth season in minor league hoops.
“There are 35 teams in The Basketball League, and 29 are actually playing,” she said. “Six teams were unable to make it happen this year, one of which was the Albany Patroons, who were the defending champion two years ago.
“There are a couple teams that are still struggling with finding venues. … For us, after we have our first two home games, we travel for two weekends, so I’m hoping that New York state opens a little bit more and we might be able to finish the regular season in a gym in Jamestown or the local area.”
For this weekend, the Warren YMCA will be the host for games against the Tri-State (New Jersey) Admirals on Friday and the Syracuse Stallions on Saturday.
“We’ll (be able to) have fans,” Crosby said, “probably about 200. We’ll have to wear masks. Fans will be on one side and players will be socially distanced on the other side.”
Crosby added: “There are a whole lot of new dynamics we’re working with, but we’re going to make it happen.”
Crosby will do so with a mixture of new and familiar faces.
The new head coach is Brandon Lesovsky. The 42-year-old Cuba, Kansas native is entering his 20th season of coaching at various levels, including a stop in Owensboro, Kentucky, which is also a TBL member.
“I’ve heard good things about the (Jamestown) organization,” he said. ” … It was an attractive job and I’m also familiar with a couple of the players.”
Among those who are returning for another stint with the Jackals are DeAngelo Stewart, Raheem “Radio” Singleton, Bernard Edwards, Glenroy Carr and Daniel Mulamba. Singleton will serve as a player/coach.
“Raheem was my starting point guard last year. He’s been working this entire offseason, helping with the preparations for this year,” Crosby said. “We did all the recruiting, hosted a tryout each month leading up to the season … and he was at most of them coaching and helping decide which players would be the best fit for the organization.”
Lesovsky said the goal of the TBL and the Jackals is “to be able to showcase players to get them where they want to go world-wide.”
He added: “(We want them to) use basketball as a tool to be able to see the world. We want to try to do that within the team concept of winning games and continuing to allow the guys to showcase what they can do.”
Lesovsky said those who haven’t seen a TBL game will be surprised by the talent.
“There are so many good players across the United States who didn’t play at Kentucky or Kansas,” he said. “I think that’s what people start to understand when they’ve been around it a little bit is you don’t have to play at one of those places to be able to play at a good level of professional basketball. Some guys are late bloomers, but they have speed, athleticism and physicality, which is pretty impressive.”
The remaining roster includes Four McGlynn, Christian Nobles, Dane Miller, Chris Clover, Eric Mack, Rick Curry and Jon Lee.
“We’re really confident that this 12 is going to be a good fit,” Crosby said. “We’re hoping to have two starting fives, so it doesn’t matter what group we put on the court.”
NOTES: Friday’s opening tip-off at the Warren YMCA will be at 7 p.m. Doors will open at 6 p.m. Saturday’s game is scheduled for 5 p.m. with doors opening at 4 p.m. Presale tickets are available online for $10 for adults and $5 for students/seniors. A few tickets will be available at the door for $15 and $10.