2008-09 Wagner Basketball Preview
Seahawks look to duplicate last season's success
Expectations for the Wagner Seahawks were pretty high heading into the 2007-08 campaign, with the head coaches in the NEC picking them third in the preseason. And Wagner didn't disappoint, going 15-3 to finish second in the league. The twenty-three wins on the season were the most in the history of the program. Now Mike Deane's team has to replace three starters from that group, most notably forward Durell Vinson. One area that may have cost the Seahawks an NCAA Tournament berth: foul shooting. Wagner was a putrid 59.9% from the charity stripe, with Vinson being one of the main culprits (32.5%). Other than that department and three-point shooting the Seahawks were one of the better teams in the NEC. If guys like Jamal Smith and Joey Mundweiler can produce more on the offensive end Wagner should once again be a tough out in the NEC.
2007-08 Record: 23-8 (15-3 NEC; 2nd)
Head coach: Mike Deane (74-73 in five years at Wagner; 417-291 in 24 seasons)
Assistant coaches: Kenyon Spears, John Pugliese, Shawn Postiglione
Home Court: Spiro Sports Center
PPG: Jamal Smith (11.0)
RPG: Smith (5.4)
APG: Joey Mundweiler (1.8)
FG%: Llewchean Radford (53.2%)
3PT%: Mundweiler (33.9%)
FT%: Smith (67.2%)
Assist/TO ratio: Mundweiler (1.3)
As important as Durell Vinson was to the team last season, you can't overlook the effect that the graduation of Mark Porter could have on this team. Porter led the Seahawks in both points and assists, and was one of the top point guards in the NEC. Who replaces him and how well they perform will have a direct effect on Wagner's record come season's end. Freshman Tyler Murray (Toronto, Ontario) and junior T.J. Czeski will look to earn the position, but Czeski is playing football so he won't be available for another few weeks. Murray is a pass-first lead guard who will need to set up guys like Jamal Smith and Joey Mundweiler.
Mundweiler is a capable perimeter shooter who could stand to expand his offensive repertoire in his final campaign if he's to be a starter. 227 of his 295 field goal attempts came from beyond the arc last season, so if there's more of the same then he could possibly be a guy that Coach Deane brings off the bench. Freshman Chris Martin (Sicklerville, NJ) is another option in the backcourt in the quest to replace Porter. Martin averaged six assists per game last season and should see time at both guard positions. Freshman Josh Thompson (Richland, NJ), junior Llewchean Radford and senior Doug Elwell will also figure into the equation this season, with Radford averaging five points per game last season. The experience of Radford and Elwell could give them a leg up in the race for minutes.
Jamal Smith is the most likely option to fill in for Vinson up front this season, averaging eleven points and just over five boards per game last season. Smith can score from just about anywhere on the floor but is at his best when driving to the basket. Senior Justin Drummond, who played sixteen minutes per game last season, should see an increase in playing time this season. The same goes for junior Michael Orock, who only played four minutes per game. Orock has to up his production for the Seahawks to exceed expectations this season. Sophomores Clayfell Harris and Clifton Spiller will also look to contribute after playing sparingly in 07-08.
Two freshmen will also look to crack the rotation up front: redshirt Brian Sczczpanski and true frosh Ryan Schrotenboer (Ft. Myers, FL), both of whom have the size to make things happen down low. Sczczpanski stands at 6-11 and sat out last season, but he needs more time to develop into a serviceable big man for the Seahawks. Schrotenboer is a 6-8 forward that will need some time for his body to mature. This all means that the Seahawks could go small early in the season with the hope that some of the bigs lacking in experience progress leading into NEC play.
It would be a bit too much to ask the Seahawks to duplicate their record of a season ago, but they should be right in the middle of the NEC this season. Picked in the preseason to finish eighth in the conference, there isn't much separating fourth place from eighth. But Wagner has to have a solid answer at the point, and someone other than Jamal Smith needs to step up in the frontcourt. Do those things and they should once again play in the NEC Tournament in March.
Team Stats (conference ranking in parentheses)
PPG: 71.5 (5th)
PPG allowed: 70.9 (5th)
FG%: 44.4% (4th)
FG% defense: 41.0 (1st)
3PT%: 31.3% (10th)
3PT% defense: 32.6% (4th)
FT%: 59.9% (11th)
Rebound margin: +5.0 (t-1st)
Assist/TO ratio: 0.91 (5th)