‘Black Squad’: key players behind the scenes

Black Squad adds crucial depth and competition in practice


Photo courtesy of W&L Sports Info.

Claude Miller

A winning basketball team is like a well-oiled machine, with every player working in coordinated harmony. It’s often the case that the less visible, less flashy parts get overlooked even though their presence is vital. For the Washington and Lee men’s basketball team, that cog in the machine is the Black Squad.

The team is divided into three practice teams, white, blue, and black, mainly based on playing time. White squad is primarily the starters, blue squad is made up of second-string players, and the often-overlooked black squad is the third-string players. The purpose of the squads is to divide the team so that drills and practice are more efficient.

During a typical practice day, the squads run through offensive plays and defensive schemes by doing drills. They work on shooting fundamentals. Practice wraps up with a scrimmage between squads and a film session to prepare for the next opponent.   

While the players see less time on the court than the other units, black squad’s job is no less important.

“A lot of our contributions come behind the scenes,” guard Austin Piatt, ’17, said, “We bring the energy from the bench to pump up our team.  We also must keep ourselves locked in and ready to go if called upon.”

When they do get time on the court, their minutes are not wasted. Providing much needed depth at each position, they are able to execute set plays and to keep, and sometimes extend, leads at the ends of games. Many of the players, such as Sheamus Craugh, ‘18, and Jalen Twine, ‘17, who are both perfect from the floor, are shooting with a high field goal percentage.

A source of basketball intangibles, the black squad provides necessary leadership in the locker room as well.

“Even though they don’t get the most playing time, some members of black squad are real leaders on the team,” Blue Squad member Roy McMillan, ’19, said.

Over the years, Black Squad has bred a swagger of its own. Joking and laughing around, players have embraced their roles and learned to make the most of it. The energy and fun they provide is as valuable as the minutes spent on the floor.

“We are loud and proud and if you some see us on game day, you’ll see that pride bursting forth in the way we pump up our teammates,” Piatt said. “And you’ll see some pretty crazy bench celebrations.”

The players of Black Squad are the nuts and bolts of the team. They hold things together and support the success of the team.

“Besides wearing a different color jersey, we are all one team,” Piatt said.