Men’s basketball season preview


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Fourth-year forward T.J. Duckett looks to lead the men’s basketball team in the 2017-18 season.

On men’s basketball Head Coach Todd McGuinness’ mind is one state, across the country: North Carolina. Specifically, a team that reflects the Spartan lineup, the University of North Carolina Tar Heels.

“I envision us being like North Carolina. Four shooters on the floor with quick guards and a big man that can shoot,” said Head Coach Todd McGuinness.

Basketball season is almost here and the Case Western Reserve University men’s basketball team wants to build on its successes from last year and take them to the next level.

Even though it seems that the team had a pedestrian season last year with a record of 8-17, there were some exciting moments that allowed the team to grow and finish strong.

The team peaked when they defeated then-No. 6 University of Rochester on the road 76-72.

McGuinness said, “After this win, the guys started believing and played harder and tougher.”

Even with that win and three victories out of their last five games, there are some aspects of the game the team needs to work on.

“We need to improve on our overall team defense and focus on keeping leads when we have them,” said fourth-year guard and co-captain Colin Zucker.

The team lost 11 games last season by ten points or less. McGuinness added that the main problem was foul shooting and playmaking at the end of games.

In terms of offense, McGuinness wants the team to play like an NBA-style offense, shooting more threes and having four shooters that can spread the floor. The team wants to improve on its offensive production from last season, when it averaged 74.7 points per game on 42.3 percent shooting from the floor and 34.3 percent from three-point range.

Leading the offense are two returning fourth-year players in Zucker and forward and co-captain T.J. Duckett. Zucker is a shooter, averaging 11.2 points last season and 39.7 percent from beyond the arc. Duckett, who had a breakthrough year and made the All-University Athletic Association First Team, is a strong rebounder who averaged a team-high 13.9 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.

Along with Zucker and Duckett, the team will heavily rely on its returning second-year group of players, especially forward Connor Nally and guard Sam Hansen.

“I am very excited about this season because we have experience in our returning players plus very talented freshmen. I believe we will have a great season and will experience a lot of success,” Zucker said.

The rotation will consist of 11 to 12 players, with each being evaluated in the season’s early games in terms of who is in the best shape and turns it over the least, according to McGuinness.

Looking at the schedule, the Spartans will once again face tough competition. Conference play will start Jan. 6 against Carnegie Mellon University at home. The team will face three ranked conference opponents in No. 9 Washington University in St. Louis, No. 16 Rochester and No. 17 Emory University.

The Spartans will start the season by first competing in the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Memorial Tournament at home, where they will face Frostburg State University on Friday, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. and then play either Montclair State University or Greenville University on Saturday.

“Frostburg State came off a [Division I] exhibition last week against Towson [University]. They have two good starting guards that are quick, which we need to keep out of the paint. They also have a good wing scorer,” said McGuinness. “Greenville is a high-powered offensive team that averaged around 130 points per game last season, playing a five in-five out system and shooting threes. They also had 12 guys that averaged over 10 points per game last season.”