VALPARAISO | College basketball players are conditioned to speak the company line whenever it comes to playing time.
Lose a starting spot, fall out of the rotation, inexplicably sit on the bench for a month straight; the answer is always the same: whatever is best for the team.
Jordan Coleman has long learned every company line in the book at Valparaiso. The senior started the first five games this season, only to lose his spot to a freshman. After the journey that Coleman has taken over the last four years, he barely flinched at the news.
“It truly doesn’t bother me that I’m not starting,” Coleman said. “Really, it doesn’t. I just want to contribute to my team and help us get wins in whatever win that means.”
The North Hollywood, Calif., native began his collegiate career Hawaii in 2010, but played in just two games for a total of eight minutes before transfering. Not wanting to go two full years without being on the court, Coleman chose Southwestern Illinois junior college instead of a Division I program where he would have to sit out the entire season.
“I’ve been through a lot of adversity in my career so far,” Coleman said. “It’s all gone so far and it feels like yesterday that I started.”
Coleman finally found a landing spot with the Crusaders last season and was a key member of the rotation, averaging nearly 17 minutes per game on a senior-laden squad. Just when it appeared that Coleman had a breakout Horizon League game with nine points and four rebounds in a win over UIC, the junior was essentially shut down for the rest of the year. Coleman played just six minutes over the final eight conference games and never saw the floor during the Horizon League tournament.
“I knew that it was a veteran team and I just tried to play my role, but it was frustrating,” Coleman said. “That experience fueled me. I stayed here all summer and just worked on my game. I want to make the best out of this year.”
Coleman started this season with a flourish, registered a career-high 16 points in a 77-74 win over Murray State in the season opener. The senior scored in double figures in the next six games, including wins over James Madison (16) and UCF (15) after Lexus Williams took his place in the starting lineup. Coleman suffered an ankle injury against Mercer and has slowly regained his form in the last two weeks.
“The Mercer game was the most frustrating thing of the season because I felt like we could’ve won that game,” Coleman said. “The ankle is good now. I’m ready to go.”
Coleman’s senior class is a bit of an enigma compared to past classes at Valparaiso. Filled with four high-major transfers, the then-juniors took a backseat to Ryan Broekhoff and company last season and now find themselves as the bridge to Valparaiso’s talented freshman class.
“I don’t know that we look at it like that,” Coleman said. “We know we contributed last season and we know that we have a lot of goals this season and the entire team is working to accomplish those goals.”