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The Wilkes University men’s basketball team will open their 2006-07 season on Saturday, November 11th, when they travel to take on Division I Rider College in an exhibition game beginning at 7:00 p.m.
The Wilkes roster will be decidedly different than a season ago with the departure of eight veterans, including the team’s top three scorers, and only two seniors. Despite the youthfulness of the squad, head coach Jerry Rickrode is excited about the prospects.
“I am excited about this group of players,” stated Rickrode. “They are all in it for the same reason and have a great sense of team unity. We are extremely young and there are several newcomers who will be in our rotation. But, the younger guys are very talented and the veterans have not only improved, but have set a very good tone for this team.”
Junior Matt Gould, who started 23 games as a sophomore, and junior Jeremy Kable will anchor the Wilkes back court. The 5-10 Gould averaged 3.5 points and 2.7 rebounds per game, while also handing out 1.7 assists per game from his point guard position. Kable, a 6-0 shooting guard, played in every contest as a sophomore, averaging 7.5 points per game and hitting 40 three-point field goals.
Four newcomers, including three freshmen, will also vie for playing time at the guard position. The freshman include 6-1 Chris Gulla, who averaged 17.8 points per game during his senior season at Eastern Regional High School in New Jersey, 6-3 Guy Fasciana, who played his high school basketball at Wyoming Area and averaged 17 points per game as a senior, and 6-2 Tom Wychock, a graduate of Coughlin High School. John Kelly, a 6-1 junior who transferred from Luzerne County Community College, is also in the mix.
The Colonels will have four veterans back in the front court, including 6-5 sophomore Steve Kline and 6-5 senior Dan Adams. Kline started 10 of the 24 games he appeared in as a freshman and contributed 7.7 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. Adams played in every game last season, including two as a starter, and chipped in with 4.0 points and 1.8 rebounds per contest. A pair of 6-6 centers, senior Tyler Jenkins and sophomore Andrew Durako, will also look to gain playing time this season. Both players appeared in eight games a season ago.
Three freshmen could also find their way on to the court for the Colonels at the forward position, including 6-6 Tom Kresge, 6-6 Anthony Gabriel and 6-4 Matt Smyth. Kresge was a standout performer at Pleasant Valley High School, where he earned Mountain Valley Conference most valuable player honors as a senior. Kresge, who connected on 51 percent of his three-point attempts, averaged 21.5 points and 11 rebounds per game a season ago. Gabriel was a District III all-star last season after averaging 16.7 points and 9.8 rebounds a game for Trinity High School. Smyth was well-tested during his high school career at Father Judge, playing in the highly-competitive Philadelphia Catholic League.
“We are finding out more about ourselves every day in practice,” added Rickrode. “At this stage we seem to be a team this is a stronger post-up team partly because we can post up at more positions on the floor than we have been able to in the past. We are a more disciplined team in the half court and are more of a grind it out type of team. Our scheme on offensive seems to allow us to get more high percentage shots, with most of our jump shots coming from the inside out.”
“Our goals are more process oriented than they are product oriented as this point. We are taking steps to try and improve every day. That being said, this team is very coachable and has a high basketball IQ. Things have moved along a little quicker than we anticipated. I feel that this team could be better than expected this season and has a chance to be very good in the future.”