2008-09 St. Peter’s Basketball Preview
Coach Dunne continues to build in Jersey City
John Dunne heads into his third season at St. Peter’s with the youngest team of his tenure. With just one senior and two juniors on the roster this season, the Peacocks will have their fair share of growing pains this season. Also working against St. Peter’s is the loss of warrior Todd Sowell, pretty much a sure bet to finish with a double-double every night he took the floor. But luckily for Coach Dunne he’s got a few talented options on the perimeter, led by MAAC All-Rookie selection Wesley Jenkins. As important as it is to win now, this season is all about building a foundation for the program with players who will be around for a while.
2007-08 Record: 6-24 (3-15 MAAC; 9th)
Head coach: John Dunne (11-49 in two seasons)
Assistant coaches: John Morton, James Wallace, Marlon Guild
Home court: Yanitelli Center
PPG: Wesley Jenkins (13.0)
RPG: Akeem Gooding (4.8)
APG: Nick Leon (2.8)
FG%: Gooding (40.6%)
FT%: Leon (89.0%)
3PT%: Jenkins (41.7%)
Assist/TO ratio: Leon (0.93)
The backcourt should be the strength of this team despite their youth, with sophomores Wesley Jenkins, Nick Leon and Darrell Lampley leading the way. Jenkins was the leading scorer for the Peacocks last season and is a good bet to duplicate that feat this season. For his play he was named to the MAAC All-Rookie Team, and he’ll have to exceed that level of play if St. Peter’s is to improve upon their six wins from a year ago. Leon and Lampley are possible answers at the point for Coach Dunne, but despite leading the team in assist-to-turnover ratio Leon has to take better care of the basketball (91 turnovers).
A capable shooter from the perimeter, he could also see some time off the ball for the Peacocks. Lampley is a capable floor general who concentrates more on getting his teammates in the right spots than his own shot. Behind those three are more youngsters looking to earn playing time. Sophomore Kahlil Mumford (Philadelphia, PA), who didn’t play last season due to a knee injury, could see time at the point when Lampley needs a rest. The same goes for freshman Brandon Hall (Colonia, NJ), a traditional point who looks to run the show rather than look for his own shot. If the Peacocks are to improve upon their offensive numbers from a season ago, the backcourt will be the catalyst in such progress.
There are more bodies up front, but there’s also a lack of concrete answers. Akeem Gooding will most likely be the starter on the wing, but with Sowell and Raul Orta gone he’ll have to put more points on the board this season. Ryan Bacon, a 6-7 sophomore, is another forward who will have to get used to an expanded role this season. Ismaila Traore and Jordan Costner should also get more minutes, with Costner being a candidate for a breakout campaign. Not saying that he’ll be a double-double guy like Sowell, but he should be much improved with more playing time available.
After those returnees it’s all about the newcomers. CJ Reid (Brooklyn, NY), Jamin Shumate (Elizabeth, NJ) and Jack Hill (Houston, TX) will all have ample opportunities to earn playing time, but don’t expect a large rotation from Coach Dunne this season. Hill has the size and versatility at 6-8, 200 to help out early and often for the Peacocks and Shumate has the strength to hold his own on the glass. All three have the ability to be solid players, but to expect major contributions from any of these three would be unfair. But just like the rest of this young team, they’ll learn on the fly.
How much this team improves can’t be measured simply in wins and losses because the MAAC will be a tough conference again this season. While there wasn’t a clear favorite last season (Siena is this year), the conference should be every bit as tough in 2008-09. Whether or not they stay out of the cellar will depend upon the development of their young nucleus, with an improvement in the standings most likely coming next season. But they will compete, and that’s the first thing that you ask of a young team at any level.
Team Stats (conference ranking in parentheses)
PPG: 66.7 (7th)
PPG allowed: 72.6 (8th)
FG%: 40.9% (8th)
FG% defense: 43.8% (5th)
3PT%: 34.7% (7th)
3PT% defense: 35.2% (5th)
FT%: 66.5% (6th)
Rebound margin: -0.7 (7th)
Assist/TO ratio: 0.65 (10th)