COLCHESTER, Vt. - With six seniors graduated from last year's Saint Michael's College men's basketball team, including five starters that helped the Purple Knights make their first Northeast-10 Conference Championship semifinal appearance in 14 years, third-year head coach Josh Meyer will look to some of the more veteran players on the roster to take on new roles in 2015-16.
"I don't think we're a young or inexperienced team," said Meyer, who is joined by associate head coach Mike Larkin, now in his fourth year with the program. "We have student-athletes on this team that have been in the program for several years. I think that's one of the great things about college sports, the cyclical nature of it. We have a great group of student-athletes that are really excited for this year, and new roles and new opportunities for leadership. It will be very exciting to see how things develop, given those new opportunities."
Saint Michael's went 18-11 overall last winter, notching 18 victories for the second straight season, while going 12-9 in the NE-10. The squad downed The College of Saint Rose, 68-65, during the first round of the tournament before upsetting nationally-ranked Southern Connecticut State University, the eventual NCAA Tournament East Regional runner-up, 81-79, during a quarterfinal in New Haven, Conn. The Purple Knights' postseason run concluded in the semifinals at Saint Anselm College, as they trailed by three points with fewer than two minutes remaining in an 80-68 loss to the eventual NE-10 Championship runner-up.
While all five starters graduated, seven men who played at least a dozen games last season return, with four first-years joining the nine-player veteran contingent. "All of our guys have an opportunity to have a huge impact on the program, whether they play in games or not," said Meyer. "That's a very important part of our culture, how important everyone is. From a leadership voice standpoint, when you lose six seniors, there's an opportunity for new voice and leadership, new chemistry, and that's the major change. There's a whole new dynamic based on personalities. We have a really terrific group of student-athletes that really care about each other, that are on the same page, and are great teammates and want to work hard for each other."
The Purple Knights head to the University of Vermont for an exhibition game on Saturday before beginning their 26-game regular-season slate at the Saint Thomas Aquinas College Tournament on Nov. 14-15. The 21-game NE-10 schedule kicks off on Nov. 18 at Franklin Pierce University before Saint Michael's opens its home campaign three days later against Assumption College.
"When you lose six guys, people assume you're a young team, but we have guys on this team who are older and experienced and are great leaders, and who are ready to get out there," said Meyer. "Everything is always being earned, and nothing is set in stone. We have a lot of guys competing and working hard for opportunities."
- Will Davis (Valley Stream, N.Y./Holy Cross), 6-foot-3 guard | 12 games | 1.3 points | 1.5 rebounds
- Harry Eromosele (Queens, N.Y./CTEA), 6-foot-5 forward | 4 games | 1.3 points | 2.0 rebounds
- Morrell Gaskins (Cambria Heights, N.Y./Archbishop Molloy), 6-foot-6 forward | 28 games | 1.6 points | 1.1 rebounds | 47.1 fg%
- Greg Grippo (Edison, N.J./Rutgers Prep), 6-foot-3 guard | captain | 29 games | 6.0 points | 1.3 assists | 41 three-pointers (1.4 per game)
- Matt Bonds (Accokeek, Md./North Point), 6-foot-5 forward | captain | 29 games | 9.7 points | 9.1 rebounds (team leader) | 3.7 offensive rebounds (league leader) | 50.0 fg%
- David Sullivan (Egg Harbor Township, N.J./Saint Augustine Prep), 6-foot-4 guard | 17 games | 0.6 points | 0.4 rebounds | 40.0 3pt%
- Zaire Williams (Paterson, N.J./Newark Academy), 6-foot guard | 20 games | 1.7 points | 0.9 assists | 38.5 3pt%
- Bruno Beča (Zagreb, Croatia/Westchester Country Day School), 6-foot-10 forward | 5 games | 0.6 rebounds | 0.2 blocks
- Colin Richey (Upton, Mass./Choate Rosemary Hall), 6-foot-2 guard | 12 games | 1.7 points | 0.3 assists | 69.2 fg% | 40.0 3pt%