By Mitch Foster / Sports Information Intern
WILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- Cheshire native Collin Jordan was one of five seniors who were honored on Seniors' Day prior to the final regular-season home game of his career Feb. 17. While each of the five seniors was duly recognized for completing four-year collegiate careers, the day may have taken on additional significance for Jordan and his family.
For Jordan – a 5-foot-10, 175-pound guard -- the road to Seniors' Day was a bumpy one which he survived only through commitment, dedication, and persistence.
After strong seasons as a freshman and sophomore – as a freshman he started seven games in place of injured junior Trachone Preston -- Jordan was involved an off-court incident as a junior which kept him off the roster during the fall semester of 2016-17, and which might well have signaled the end of his career.
Once he was re-instated to the team in the spring semester of 2017, the rotation of guards had been set with four returning backcourt players and newcomers Kendall Marquez, a transfer, and freshman Carlos Gonzalez. It was a team which was headed to another Little East Conference regular-season title and culminated in the LEC tournament title. Jordan was, effectively, the odd-man-out as he averaged a career-low 3.8 minutes per game in 14 games.
While many would have been discouraged with the situation and decide to quit at that point, that was never a legitimate option for him. Collin said, "My mentality is that I don't quit anything once I start it, so I decided I was going to use it as motivation coming into this season."
The decision to stick it out has paid dividends during this, his senior season. While his only start this year came when all five seniors were given starts on Seniors' Day, the impact of Jordan's play off the bench – both on the offensive and defensive ends of the floor -- cannot be overstated.
At left: Collin Jordan and parents Sandra and Michael with head coach Bill Geitner during Seniors' Day ceremonies Feb. 17. (Photo by Nick McAneny).
A case in point came in the first round of Tuesday's Little East Conference tournament win, when his energy, ability to see the floor and steal the ball and quickness in driving to the basket, helped change the flow of the game against Plymouth State University. With the Warriors trailing by a bucket seven minutes into the game, Jordan replaced Gonzalez at point guard. His play over the next seven minutes allowed the Warriors to change the momentum with a 23-6 run that turned the game into a rout by halftime. Two minutes into his stint, Jordan grabbed a defensive rebound and scored at the other end to tie the game. Moments later, he stole the ball and scored again to give Eastern a five-point lead and after exchange of possessions, he then set up with passes three-point field goals by Jacob Collins and Kendall Marquez that made it a 15-point game with seven minutes left in the half.
For his part, head coach Bill Geitner says that he is extremely proud of the way Jordan reacted to a difficult situation a year ago. "I think it shows great perseverance and resiliency on his part, after going through last year with the difficult times, to have the competitive nature to come back this year and work extremely hard. He showed up in tremendous shape for our preseason and I think that shows his toughness and willingness to put in the time," said the 16th-year head coach.
During his first few seasons at Eastern, Jordan was known as a good offensive point guard who knew how to push the ball and get his teammates involved. Now, as a senior, he has evolved and is able to pester opposing point guards. Showing up in preseason in great shape certainly is an important factor however he gives all credit to Geitner, saying, "Coach really emphasizes defense every day in practice, so I'd say he's responsible for the success I've had on that side of the ball."
To be certain, Jordan's contributions this year do not always show up in the box score. For the record, he has appeared in all 26 games this year, averaging 11.4 minutes, 2,1 assists, 2.7 points and 1.5 rebounds. More reflective of his worth is his assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.3. In the victory over Plymouth, he equaled his season-high with five rebounds, had three steals, and sank two of his four shots in 15 minutes.
Every season that Jordan has been a member of the team, the Warriors have been LEC regular-season champions. After reflecting, Jordan says, "Looking back at my career, this season means a lot to me. After everything that happened last year it's awesome to be back and to be a contributing member."
What remains for Jordan and his senior classmates after a fourth straight LEC regular-season title this year is a second straight LEC tournament title. The Warriors host Western Connecticut Friday at 5:30 p.m. in the LEC semifinals, with a win moving them into the title game at home Saturday at 5 p.m.
While an LEC tournament title this year would give the Warriors consecutive tournament titles for the first time in the 32-year history of the championship, it would also match the accomplishment of Collin's his older brother, Mike, a lacrosse attackman who played on back-to-back LEC lacrosse tournament title teams in 2012 and 2013 at Eastern under former head coach Justin Axel.
A solid B student, Jordan expect to graduate in May with a degree in Sport & Leisure Management and is pursuing a coaching career.