The Coast Guard men's basketball team will kick off the 2013/14 season on Friday at the Herb Kenny Tip-Off hosted by Wesleyan University. It will mark the 90th season of Coast Guard basketball.
Kevin Jaskiewicz will be charged with leading the Bears again this season, his fifth season at the helm. He will be assisted by long-time associate head coach Bob Bono who is in his 27th season at the Academy. Rounding out the staff will be fourth-year assistant Sam Cheung and Chris Vincent in his first season.
The Bears will be looking to bounce back from a tough 2012/13 season that saw them finish up with a 2-21 record (1-13 NEWMAC). Despite last season's results there is plenty of optimism surrounding this year's club. The aim once again this year will be to qualify for the NEWMAC Tournament (top five teams qualify) and coach Jaskiewicz says, "That's our goal every year, and beyond that we've seen improvement hope to see that continue throughout the course of the year."
Coast Guard graduated just three players from last year's team; however, one of them was 1,000-point scorer Greg Marshall. Coast Guard also had a pair of starters in Jimmy Knudsen (9.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg) and Ed Gailor (3.8 ppg, 2.0 apg) graduate.
Prior to the opener, Coach Jaskiewicz does not yet have a completed starting line-up, but he's named seniors John Benedict and Devonte Weems as well as juniors Eli Sponseller and David Anderson as the most likely candidates to fill four of the starting roles. The fifth and final starting spot is still up for grabs and could go to any number of players.
The Bears return nine letterwinners from last year's club, led by Weems and Benedict, both of whom will serve as captains along with classmate Kevin Sowers.
Weems made 18 starts a season ago and ranked third on the team while averaging 6.6 points per game while Benedict was limited to playing in just a pair of games due to injuries. Weems will be expected to handle point guard duties this season after recording a team-best 68 assists a and placing second on the club with 22 steals a season ago while Benedict will likely see time at both forward positions after posting 4.8 points and 3.3 rebounds per game in his first two seasons.
Also back for Coast Guard will be Sponseller (3.4 ppg) and Anderson (6.0 ppg, 5.00 rpg) as well as sophomores Ryan McNeil (3.2 ppg), and Mark Krebs (1.6 ppg, 2.5 rpg). Anderson led the team last season in blocks, totaling 17. The Bears also return sophomore reserves Kevin Alvarez and Avierre Conner in addition to welcoming back sophomore Ricky Rodriguez. Rodriguez did not play a season ago but in the 2011/12 season he scored 3.3 points per game and totaled 19 steals.
The Bears will also welcome three freshmen into the fold this season. They are Devon Zych (6-7, F, Oswego, Ill.), Adrian Chuquillangui (5-11, G, Manassas, Va.), and Jordan Lachowsky (6-2, G, Cedar Park, Texas). All three newcomers will be expected to contribute immediate and coach Jaskiewicz says, "Our younger guys will all contribute and compete for minutes and we'll rely on our experienced players to provide leadership."
Coast Guard will be using a new offensive set this season which favors the collective balance of the team and should lead to an increase in scoring. Coast Guard averaged just 55.7 points per game a season ago and allowed 73.6 per game to opponents.
Once again Coast Guard will be playing a top-notch schedule featuring 14 NEWMAC games, including home and away dates against each of the other seven conference members. The Bears will take part in a pair of in-season tournaments, opening at the Herb Kenny Tip-Off on Friday, November 15th against the host Cardinals. They will also take part in Camel/Cadet Classic, opening with St. Joseph's (L.I.) on Saturday, December 7th before hosting the finals round on Sunday, December 8th.
All in all it should be a season of growth and opportunity for the Bears. After being picked to finish in a tie for sixth place with Wheaton in the inaugural NEWMAC pre-season poll, the Bears will have a chance to surprise and gain their first appearance in the conference tournament since the 2009/10 season.
The view the 2013-14 Men's Basketball Online Media Guide -- CLICK HERE