Athlete of the week: Zac O’Dell ’20

Swarthmore men’s basketball capped off a fantastic Centennial Conference season with their second conference title in the past three years. The Garnet easily took care of rival Johns Hopkins in a 79-61 blowout win in the conference championship game. Key to the win, and also to the Garnet’s success this season, was Zac O’Dell ’20. The big man from Schenectady, NY had twelve points and four blocks, and also flashed some little-seen range from deep, sinking two three-pointers. In the week following the game, O’Dell was awarded the Centennial Conference Defensive Player of the Year award and was also named First-Team All-Centennial Conference. The Garnet begin their playoff push at home this weekend. They host Mitchell on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Tarble Pavilion.

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

Zac O’Dell: I’m currently a Biochemistry major and I just really enjoyed the the first couple chemistry classes which led me to choose it.

JC: What led you to choose to attend Swarthmore?

ZO: I was recruited by Coach Landry, and after visiting and spending a couple days with the guys on the team, I knew that Swarthmore was a place I would enjoy being at.

JC: Have you started thinking about post-graduation plans?

ZO: I would eventually like to attend graduate school for chemistry, but whether that is right after graduation or not I’m not sure of yet.

JC: You’ve now played on 3 teams that have made the NCAA playoffs. What is special about this one?

ZO: All the teams I have been on have been special and unique I would say. I would say this team is special in the sense that guys on the team really enjoy being around each other and love to play together, which makes the game really fun.

JC: What has been your main focus to improve your game over your time here?

ZO: I’ve really worked on my shot since coming to Swarthmore. I’ve been working on my free throws and 3 pointers pretty much since freshman year and am still working on them.

JC: How important was it to secure a host site for the NCAA tournament?

ZO: It’s awesome that we get to play at home for the first weekend of the NCAA tournament. Hosting the Centennial Conference tournament last weekend was a blast and there was a ton of energy in the gym which makes playing a lot of fun. Hopefully the gym will be packed again this weekend.

JC: What has made Coach Landry Kosmalski’s teams so successful?

ZO: I think that Coach Landry recruits guys that will buy in to our system and our culture that Landry established when he first got here. When everyone’s on the same page and set on accomplishing the same goals, things just seem to click. I think that’s where a lot our success comes from: guys willing to sacrifice their own personal goals and desires for the greater team goals.

JC: Describe your feeling when you learned you were the Centennial Defensive Player of the Year.

ZO: It’s a nice award to be honored with and I think it has more to do with our defensive play as a team than as an individual, so I was excited to hear the news along with the other guys on the team who were honored. But really, we just have to keep your focus on the next game and enjoy awards and accolades after the season.

JC: What should we expect from the team during the NCAA playoffs?

ZO: Plan on seeing the same Swarthmore Men’s Basketball team you’ve seen all season. We’re not going to change anything up because of the NCAA tournament. We’re going to take things one game at a time and just enjoy this amazing opportunity.

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