Athlete of the Week: Conor Harkins ’21

On Sunday, the Swarthmore men’s basketball team improved to 4-0 on the year with a win against Arcadia. The 82-77 final tally was much closer than the Garnet’s previous three wins, with this game being the first on the year decided by single digits. Key in the victory was guard Conor Harkins ’21. The sophomore from Greenwich, CT sank eight three pointers on his way to a career-high 28 points. After averaging 8.8 points last season, Harkins has nearly doubled his return in 2018, leading the team in scoring with 17 points per game. Harkins and the eighth-ranked Garnet return to action Thursday with a road showdown against rival Johns Hopkins.

Jack Corkery: What is your major, and what led you to choose it?

Conor Harkins: I am planning on double majoring in economics and psychology. I will hopefully pursue a career in finance or business and also really loved the psychology courses and department here at Swarthmore. So, I felt as if combining these together works perfectly.

JC: What led you to choose Swarthmore?

CH: On my visits here, I really loved the group of guys and coaching staff of the basketball program. It’s also obviously an amazing academic school so the package of a great athletic and academic experience was something I couldn’t turn down. Plus, my mom kept bugging me about how pretty the campus was, and it is a close enough distance where my family gets to come to a lot of the games.

JC: What is one thing you would change about Swarthmore?

CH: I really like Swarthmore so this is tough, but I would love for there to be more food options on campus. Sometimes Sharples gets old or has a meal that isn’t too appealing, so more on campus options would be ideal. That being said, I can’t complain too much with having the Ville in walking distance.

JC: What has been your favorite class at Swarthmore so far?

CH: I really love my “War, Sport, and Masculinity” class taught by professor and former tennis coach Mike Mullan. The course goes in depth about the history about athletics and some of the major wars in our past. It is a nice change of pace from the psychology and economics classes I have been taking.

JC: Talk about your big performance from 3-point range last week. What led you to shoot so well?

CH: Playing on this team is so much fun for me in particular, because everyone else is so talented. Opposing defenses have to choose how they are going to stop our playmakers like Cam Wiley, Nate Shafer, Zac O’Dell, and a bunch of others. I get to shoot a lot of open shots simply because my defender is worrying about what they are doing, and they are all unselfish and great passers. Last week was just an example of my teammates getting me open in great positions to score, making my job much easier. I started off the year missing some shots I felt that I should have made, so finally seeing the ball go through the net consistently against Arcadia was a really good feeling.

JC: Coach Landry Kosmalski just had his 100th career win. How does his coaching impact the team’s success?

CH: We were all very excited to be a part of Coach Landry’s 100th win. He would probably say that he doesn’t care much about the accomplishment, but it is cool for all of us players to be a part of that moment for him. This program has turned into a very successful contender in both the conference and the nation, and it all starts with Landry and the rest of the coaching staff. We all know how smart he is and we trust him to put us in situations to win every game. All of the team’s success the past couple of years starts with the culture that Coach Landry has created.

JC: What do you think is the biggest difference between last year and this year’s team?

CH: The biggest difference between last year and this year is our experience. Last year we had three seniors who had all played meaningful minutes for all four years and were such great leaders that we could rely on them in times of adversity. Our biggest challenge this year is for younger guys to step up as leaders, and to get our talented freshman ready so they can help us win games. Only two out of our 15 guys are seniors, with 11 of those guys being freshmen and sophomores. So, it is certainly a challenge playing with a younger group of guys, but we feel as if we have the right personalities and players to make it work. Our freshmen have so much talent that once they fully understand the offense, they are going to really help us.

JC: Do you have any personal or team goals for the remainder of the season?

CH: Our team goals were set at the beginning of the year to win a conference championship and a national championship. We set these goals high. However, we feel that we have the potential to reach them with our group of guys. This being said, with the type of coach Landry is, he engrains in our brains a daily goal of getting just a little bit better each day. Rarely will we talk about these season long goals, as the coaching staff has emphasized staying in the moment and improving with the young team we have.

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