Humbled Leone talks 200th victory, team picking up play

In his 10th season as a collegiate head basketball coach, Oswego State men’s basketballs’ Jason Leone reached 200 wins for his career last Friday night in a 100-63 dominating victory on the road against St. Lawrence University.

Always having his set focus on the task in hand, it was no shock that Leone was unaware of the accomplishment until he checked his cellphone after the game.

“I honestly didn’t know about it until the end of the game when I called my parents. They keep track of those things,” Leone said. “Those [milestones] are team accomplishments. I got a lot of guys, lot of assistant coaches that have contributed. When coaches win games it’s two things; talent and longevity.”

Leone is currently in his in seventh season as the Lakers head coach, where he has won 129 of his 200 wins, with three SUNYAC Championships included.

Prior to being hired at Oswego State, Leone was under the helm at Keystone College for four seasons where he led the men’s basketball program to a 71-35 record. He has never had a losing season in his 10 campaigns as a collegiate head coach.

“First thing is recruiting good players. And then the second thing obviously is getting good assistant coaches,” Leone said. “Basketball season is a long season. It’s about building something over the course of four to five months. Part of the reason for our I success I think is we’ve bought in to our process-oriented approach.”

This milestone comes at a good time for Leone and the Lakers. After they struggled a bit out the gate with a 1-4 start, Oswego State has won four straight games and are currently in a tie for second place in SUNYAC at 3-1.

“When we were 1-4, I didn’t really focus on our record and now that we’re 5-4 I’m not really focusing on ours records,” Leone said. “I think we have a long way to go, certainly don’t have all the answers figured out. We are playing well and we’re starting to get guys in certain roles that I think fit.”

After notching their first SUNYAC victory on Dec. 5, the Lakers traveled to western New York for a weekend pair of SUNYAC matchups and claimed victories over Buffalo State and SUNY Fredonia on Dec. 8 and 9.

The star of that weekend was senior guard Jamir Ferebee, who scored 35 points with seven assists against Buffalo State and tallied another 30 points the next day against SUNY Fredonia. Just another one of a kind type performances Leone has seen in his time as a coach.

“The Buffalo State game in particular, probably ranks in my top-three [in games he has witnessed],” Leone said.

Ferebee leads the team in scoring at 20 points a game, embracing a role that his good friend and former teammate from last season Brian Sortino displayed as a Laker. His play on both ends has fueled the team and will be vital going into the new calendar year.

Next for the team, they are on their winter break and will start back up with another pair of non-conference matchups in the Utica College Tournament on Dec. 29 and 30. They will open the tournament against SUNY Canton and will either play Utica College or Anna Maria the following day.

Having a shorter winter break with more games compared to last season will be ‘therapeutic” according to Leone as they head into the bulk of their SUNYAC schedule.

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