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The Wilkes University men's basketball team will open their 2005-06 season...
on Friday, November 18th, when they travel to Clarkson University to participate in the North Country Invitational. The Colonels will take on SUNY Potsdam in a first round game at 6:00 p.m.
Wilkes has 11 veterans returning from last season's squad that fashioned an overall record of 15-10 and qualified for the Freedom Conference playoffs. The Colonels have been selected as the conference favorite coming into the year in a balloting of the conference's coaches. They were also ranked tenth in Division III in the pre-season by Street & Smith Magazine
“This team has a little bit of a different look,” commented head coach Jerry Rickrode. “We are a lankier team and cover space better than we have in the past. We are also going to have a more defined rotation of eight or nine players, which we have not had in the last three or four years. The players roles have been defined and thus far they have accepted those roles and bought into the philosophy.”
Sophomore guard Chris Shovlin leads a host of talented players in the backcourt. Shovlin, who transferred to Wilkes after spending one semester at Division I Monmouth, played in 18 contests as a freshman, including 15 as a starter. He led the Colonels in scoring averaging 18.8 points per game. Shovlin also contributed 4.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.8 steals per game.
“Chris seems to be much more at ease and his teammates are more comfortable with him this season since he has been with us from day one,” stated Rickrode. “He really creates a problem for opposing defenses at both the point guard and wing spots. He is extremely quick and can stretch a defense. We are looking for him to have a big year.”
Senior Mike Constantine and sophomore Matt Gould will also see ample playing time at the guard positions. Constantine started 17 games last season and averaged 9.6 points per game. He also connected on 49 three-point field goals and shot 41.5 percent from behind the arc. Gould played in all 25 games as a rookie, including seven as a starter. He contributed five points and 1.6 assists.
Senior guards Drew Amoroso and John Sclafani are among five other guards who will vie for playing time. They are joined by sophomore Jeremy Kable and freshmen Coleman Williams and Keith Bradley.
“Mike Constantine has improved more from last season to this season than any player we have,” said Rickrode. “He has changed himself physically thanks to a strict conditioning program that he followed during the off-season. He is a great shooter from the two-guard spot, who can also slide over to the point. Matt Gould has solidified himself as someone who will see a lot of playing time. He is the best on the ball defender that we have and can really change a game with his intensity. Matt is relentless and tough and has really matured in a year. Drew Amoroso is probably the best leader I have had at Wilkes. He has performed extremely well during the pre-season and may find some time. We are also expecting some big contributions for Jeremy Kable this season, as well as Keith Bradley, whom I feel has one of the bigger up-sides.”
Senior Greg Cardamone, sophomore David Goode and freshman Steve Kline are in a battle for the two starting berths at forward. Cardamone started 17 of 23 games he appeared in a year ago and averaged 4.4 points and 5.2 rebounds. Goode saw increased playing time as the season progressed a year ago. In 18 games Goode chipped in an average of 2.9 points and 1.7 rebounds. Kline averaged 14 points and eight rebounds per game during his senior season at Bridgewater-Raritan High School. Junior Dan Adams, who averaged 1.9 points and 2.4 rebounds in 19 games last season, could also push for playing time.
“Cardamone is a work horse for us at 6-6, 235 pounds. He has worked hard during the off-season to get better. Greg is a nuts and bolts guy who is an excellent screener and is finishing better in the post area. David Goode has put on some solid weight that is really going to help him. At 6-6 he has great leaping skills and his overall skill level has improved. Steve Kline is an excellent rebounder and defender who is extremely sound fundamentally. He won’t be asked to do a lot of scoring for us right away, but has the ability to knock down open looks. I could also see Dan Adams in that nine-man rotation. He is a great guy to call on when you want to raise the intensity level. He is a good worker and has experience.”
Senior Evan Walters is back as the Colonels starter at center. Walters enjoyed an outstanding junior season when he averaged 8.7 points and 6.6 rebounds and had a conference-leading 64 blocked shots. Freshman Andrew Durako and junior Tyler Jenkins will back up Walters at center.
“I feel that Evan Walters is different from an other player in the Freedom Conference,” stated Rickrode. “At 6-8 he can get up and down the floor like a guard, which makes him unique. He is a distraction defensively because he is always in good help position. With the additional size around him this season, we are hoping to be able to keep Evan out of foul trouble. If we can do that I think he will be more productive on the offensive end. I also feel very strongly about Andrew Durako at the center position. He is really a player in the making and can make a real contribution to this team.”
When asked about goals for the upcoming season Rickrode said that the team’s goals rarely change from season to season. “I think that we have always gone into a season with the expectation of winning a conference championship. I believe that this year's team is going to be able to score. We can push the ball up the floor well and our guards are very quick. At the forward and center spots we have the ability to run the floor and finish. I feel that we are better athletically than we have been in quite some time. We are going to be able to play some different types of defenses, which is something that we haven’t been able to do in recent years.”
“This team is going to be a fun and exciting team to be around," concluded Rickrode. "There is excellent leadership in place with our four seniors, and the guys really love the game of basketball. That is a great quality to have if you want to be successful.”