The Oswego State men’s basketball team will be without one of its leaders on and off the court next year when senior Stan Francois graduates in May.
Francois was a co-captain in his final season with the Lakers and also one of the team’s leading scorers and rebounders.
Francois has been a Laker for the past two seasons, after transferring from SUNY Cobleskill before last season. Over that time he amassed nearly 600 points and 450 rebounds, while the Lakers made the SUNYAC playoffs both seasons.
Oswego State underwent a coaching change between Francois’ two seasons as a Laker, which was a major change of pace. Francois said the beginning of the season was difficult. Making adjustments can be hard, especially when a team has to learn a new coach’s philosophy. Francois said the Lakers had to adopt a new offense, defense and other schemes when head coach Adam Stockwell took over the reigns, but over time things became easier.
"As the season went on, [the coaching philosophy] became normal," Francois said.
Stockwell thinks highly of Francois, as a person on and off the court. Francois has a great rapport with his teammates as well. He said they are all very close outside of basketball, and are always there for each other. A good relationship among teammates is crucial for success on the court, and the Lakers are a tight-knit group of players, off the court as well.
"We have great chemistry," Francois said of his teammates. "If someone makes a mistake, we help each other out. We have each other’s back."
Stockwell called Francois the "intensity leader" for the Lakers. Francois was often asked to guard a bigger player of the opposition on defense, and then asked to score on bigger players on the offensive side.
Stockwell highlighted Francois’ productive season in lieu of a size disadvantage in most cases.
One thing that is unique about Francois is his ability to rebound. He is listed at 6 feet 2 inches, and still among the SUNYAC leaders in rebounding. He has a knack for going up and grabbing a rebound, even if the person he matches up against is taller. Stockwell said the reason why Francois can rebound so well is his intensity and pursuit to the ball.
"Stan is very active going after rebounds and has a great feel for reading where rebounds come off the rim," Stockwell said.
Francois said he has always been encouraged to rebound, even on his teams prior to the Lakers. His coaches in the past stressed the importance of rebounding, and it has influenced Francois. He cited his coaches in the past as saying, rebounding is desire and whoever wants the ball more.
"I just want the ball more," Francois said.
In practice, Francois works just as hard as he does in games, according to Stockwell. Francois is referred to as "a leader by example."
While Francois has a disadvantage in height, he makes up for it with quickness and strength. He uses these attributes to get to the rim, scoring easy baskets or grabbing a rebound more efficiently. Stockwell said Francois has the quickness and strength advantage on just about every big man he played against this season.
"Stan had the advantage in those (strength and quickness) areas regularly," Stockwell said.
Stockwell is not happy to see Francois graduate after just his first season as the Lakers coach. He said it is hard to replace a player with Francois ability to rebound and penetrate the defense.
"Someone with Stan’s commitment to rebounding is a great thing to have," Stockwell said.
Francois said he has loved his time at Oswego State, making plenty of friends along the way.
"I love it, I had a good time," Francois said. "I have had a lot of good teammates over my time here."
Francois will be missed next season, as the Lakers look to continue to grow as a team and make their mark in the SUNYAC.