Spartan strong

Men%27s+basketball

Arianna Wage/Observer

Junior Jimmy Holman scopes out the defense in a game last season. Holman and the Spartans returned to action over the weekend.

Aaron C. Shang, Staff Reporter

The temperatures drop below zero and the snow comes and goes. Yes, Case Western Reserve University, it is definitely wintertime again. For the Case men’s basketball team, this season could be the one to remember. Boasting one of the more veteran teams in the University Athletic Association, the Spartans look to build on last year’s achievements, when they narrowly missed out on an NCAA tournament berth.

Highlighting the returning starters are a pair of All-UAA seniors—forward Dane McLoughlin and guard Julien Person, both of whom are looking to finish off illustrious careers at CWRU with a grand finale. Junior point guard Jimmy Holman, the UAA leader in assists last year, also returns to facilitate the Spartan offense. Mcloughlin and Person, however, are expected to be the team’s main scorers, having tallied 956 and 609 career points respectively, Holman’s passing expertise will be crucial to their success.

Behind the trio of McLoughlin, Person, and Holman, the Spartans also sport impressive depth throughout the roster. Senior captains Brian Klements and Connor Edel figure to take over key frontcourt starting positions, opening up the flexibility for the versatile McLoughlin to move out onto the wing—an area in which he is very comfortable, as evidenced by his 154 all-time three pointers. Former UAA Rookie of the year Jordan Dean joins junior duo Matt Clark and Spencer Boyd as experienced leaders of the Case second unit, which seems to be one of the Spartans’ strongest advantages. Head coach Sean McDonnell agreed, remarking that “we’ll have a lot of talent coming off of the bench…we expect those guys to provide us with energy, defensive aggressiveness and opportunistic scoring.” In addition to providing rest for the starters, a deep and talented bench—such as the one that Case finds itself in possession of—can decisively alter the course of a game.

The Spartan men have already started their season on the right foot, defeating cross-town rivals Baldwin Wallace University 82-73 on Tuesday night. McLoughlin led the way with 19 points and five rebounds on 7-10 shooting, including a ruthlessly efficient three for four from downtown (3-point range). Person added 14 in the winning effort, while point guard Holman ran a finely-tuned offense all night en route to nine points and six assists. Looking ahead, the Spartans play in the annual Stephanie Tubbs Memorial Tournament on Friday and Saturday, while conference action doesn’t begin until begin Jan.10 at archrival Carnegie Mellon University (Pa.). Contemplating the team’s chances for greater success in the coming months, Coach McDonnell said, “We have a deep, experienced roster, and the expectations within our program are very high….good teams will always defend, rebound and share the ball—we have to be one of those teams.”

For the 2014-2015 Case men’s basketball team, teamwork, depth, and experience could very well be the defining factors that carry the Spartans into a long sought-after NCAA berth.