Scanning the Court: Men’s

Doug Hendry, Sports Editor

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After winning the Patriot League regular-season title for three consecutive seasons and securing a spot in the NCAA Tournament in two of those seasons, the men’s basketball team failed to make it past the first round of the Patriot League Tournament after a 72-71 victory by Army knocked out the Bison in Sojka Pavilion.

There is plenty of reason to believe that this year’s team can return to top form once again.

“For our team to compete for a league championship, we need to embrace the process of getting better every day, realizing it is a long season filled with inevitable ups and downs. Teams that win championships tend to be the most cohesive and resilient,” head coach Dave Paulsen said.

Captains Steven Kaspar ’15, Cory Starkey ’15, and Ryan Frazier ’16 will look to carry the team after four players graduated from last season’s team. Kaspar appeared in all 30 games last year at point guard, and his 4.6 assists per game ranked third in the Patriot League. Starkey averaged 13 minutes per game down the stretch, and his .618 field goal percentage led the team. Frazier, a defensive specialist, will look to maintain a starting role this season.

Still, it will be a tall task replacing standout guard and Patriot League Player of the Year Cameron Ayers ’14.

“We will certainly miss last year’s seniors, but I have been very pleased with the leadership and work ethic of this year’s seniors. Steven, Cory, and Joshea [Singleton ’15] have really helped to create an excellent environment of hard work, unselfishness, and competiveness. I have also been pleased with the growth of Ryan, Dom Hoffman ’16, and Chris Hass ’16 into more prominent roles,” Paulsen said.

On the inside, several players will need to step up in order to replace 6-foot-8 graduate student Brian Fitzpatrick. Starkey, Hoffman, D.J. MacLeay ’17, and Ben Oberfeld ’17 will all play vital roles at forward as Patriot League play rolls around.

“We hope to replace Fitzy with a committee approach. We cannot replace the skill Fitzy had on the low block, but this year we are bigger and stronger on the frontline,” MacLeay said.

Paulsen certainly has the experience when it comes to coaching a team into the NCAA Tournament, and his expertise will come in handy late in the season. He will also be helping mentor a strong incoming class, as guards Stephen Brown ’18 and J.C. Show ’18, forward Zach Thomas ’18, and center Nana Foulland ’18 all have time to make a name for themselves.

With all of these things in flux, Hass may be the go-to guy the Bison need with Ayers gone. Hass was clutch down the stretch with big time shots and big time consistency when he was called upon. An All-Patriot League honoree a year ago, Hass averaged 11.1 points per game and a .402 three-point percentage in 23 starts. He may help lead this team back to a Patriot League championship.

“We need to go back to who we were when we were winning championships a few years ago. Our team has to be tougher and more defensive minded in order for us to make a run in March,” MacLeay said.

The Bison open up the 2014-15 season with a home game on Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. against Marist and will go on the road afterward for a pair of matchups against top-25 teams (Michigan and Villanova).

 

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