After falling in the final seconds of the NCAA Div. III Championships last season, men’s basketball enters this season with a different make-up, but the same championship goals. Rookie Head Coach Kevin App looks to lead the Ephs following a busy off-season.
App, an assistant at Williams under former head coach Mike Maker, was named the Ephs’ new head coach in July.
App inherits an Eph team that compiled a 28-5 record a year ago. While those outside the program may feel compelled to discuss players that have graduated or left the College, App and his staff are focused on the eight returning lettermen from 2014, the return of 6-10 center Ed Flynn ’16 from injury and five new talented underclassmen.
The senior tri-captains Dan Wohl ’15, Hayden Rooke-Ley ’15 and forward Ryan Kilcullen ’15 will provide leadership and a solid base for App to build his 2014-15 team.
“We’ve totally bought into Coach App’s vision for the program and, while things are not and will not be too different than previous years, we hope to speed things up on both ends of the floor,” Wohl said.
The versatile Wohl, who has shown he can play almost any position on the floor, is the Ephs’ leading returning scorer, averaging 12.9 points a game last year. Wohl also grabbed 6.0 rebounds and handed out 1.9 assists per game. Last season, Wohl became the first and only Eph to start 33 games in a single season.
Rooke-Ley has been troubled by injuries in his Eph career, but, when healthy, has shown he can handle the ball under pressure, run the offense and generate points. Rooke-Ley netted 10.9 points a game last season, playing in 24 contests
Kilcullen, who provided an offensive spark off the bench the past two seasons, is expected to start up front. Last winter, Kilcullen drained 28 of his 60 (46.7 percent) three-point attempts, and led the team to a perfect record as a starter.
The men return guards Mike Greenman ’17 and Dan Aronowitz ’17, who each appeared in at least 31 games last season, along with three role players in the junior class: Darrias Sime ’16, a forward, and guards Adam Harrell ’16 and Luke Thoreson ’16.
Greenman filled in admirably when Rooke-Ley was sidelined last season, showing great court awareness in overcoming full-court pressure. He started 18 games in his debut season, and his 641 minutes played ranked him fifth on the squad. As his first season progressed, Greenman developed more confidence in his three-point shot (35-87, .407) and looked to score more often. Aronowitz is one of the quickest members of the team and will be counted on this winter to use his ability to slash to the hoop to create more offense. He averaged just under nine minutes a game in his 31 appearances a year ago.
New faces joining the squad for this season include football and former JV basketball stars Taysean Scott ’17, a guard, and Lewis Hayes ’17, a forward, and three recruited first-year guards in Chris Galvin ’18, Adam Kroot ’18 and Cole Teal ’18. These incoming players will be out to push the returnees in a quest to find time on the floor as the season evolves and they learn the Eph offensive and defensive systems.
The first two weeks of practice will determine which two players will join the trio of captains in the starting lineup. Greenman and Aronowitz are expected to press for time in the backcourt, while Flynn will seek to add an inside presence, and the three returning juniors will look to expand their minutes.
Defensively, App says that his team will start the season playing man-to-man, but might switch to other defensive schemes as the season progresses.
“Expectations are always high and we feel we have all the tools to achieve our goals this season,” Wohl said. “We are focused on staying process-driven and getting better each and every day in practice.”
Williams, ranked fifth in the D3Hoops.com national poll, will first take the floor on Saturday when they host Southern Vermont in the Chandler Athletic Center at 7 p.m.