2014 W&M Basketball Season Preview

Senior Point Guard Marcus Thornton
Senior Point Guard Marcus Thornton

IT’S BASKETBALL SEASON!!! Way back in August, we posted this year’s W&M basketball schedule, but now it’s officially time to get the party started. The Tribe will look to avenge last season’s CAA Championship game loss to Delaware, and ride the shoulders of this year’s CAA Pre-Season player of the year, and soon to be William & Mary’s all-time leading scorer, Marcus Thornton. This season is seriously shaping up to be one to remember in Williamsburg.

Key Losses for the Tribe: Big man Tim Rusthoven and senior captain Kyle Gaillard join guards Brandon Britt and Julian Boatner as the Tribe’s main pieces lost to graduation. Britt was the perennial scorer who had a serious knack for driving to the hoop. On the other hand, Boatner was a consistent three point shooter, who at one time or another, led the CAA in three-point percentage a season ago.

Kyle Gaillard was a Tribe captain who was known for throwing down momentous dunks. And Tim Rusthoven was heavily utilized in the system for his consistent presence and scoring ability in the post. Altogether, these four seniors contributed, on average, a whopping 34.8 points per game for W&M a season ago. The Tribe’s replacement of these three players will be paramount to the success of this year’s team.

Tribe Starters This Season: It looks like William & Mary’s starting 5 will be as follows: Marcus ThorntonTerry TarpeySean SheldonOmar Prewitt, and Daniel Dixon. Led by senior Marcus Thornton, this is still a very young Tribe squad. Marcus looks to be the only senior at this point who will receive serious playing time, with the vast majority of the Tribe’s talent seemingly coming from the Sophomore and Junior classes.

Thornton led the team in scoring a season ago, averaging 18.7 points a game, while then-freshman Omar Prewitt finished third on the team, averaging 11.4 points a game. These two will look to be the Tribe’s primary scorers this year, and much will be expected of them. Adding to the starting rotation, junior Terry Tarpey offers a well-rounded two-way player who can produce at both ends of the court. Tarpey’s minutes sky-rocketed a season ago, as he averaged over 24 minutes a game–and for good reason.

Daniel Dixon joins Omar Prewitt in this year’s sophomore class. Last season, Dixon matured very well in the Tribe’s system during his freshman year and has become known for his athletic blocks and ability to hit the three point shot. A northern Virginia kid out of Great Falls, Dixon will be a big part of the Tribe’s squad this season. Look for Dixon’s minutes on the court to increase this year, much like Tarpey’s did last season.

Lastly, William & Mary has some big shoes to fill following the graduation of big-man Tim Rusthoven. Rusthoven, better known as “Beasthoven,” was a fan favorite, and contributed a tremendous amount to the Tribe offense in the post. We’ve heard good things about the progression of junior Sean Sheldon’s game this offseason, and believe he is up to the task.

Last season, Sheldon logged all of his playing time when Rusthoven was on the bench. He was better known for his ability to shut players down with great defense, rather than for his ability to put up points. Like we said, all we’ve heard about Sheldon in the offseason is that he’s put in the work, looks great, and he’s ready to produce. The Tribe’s path to the CAA championship depends on solid play in the post; this has been something the Tribe has struggled with in the past. Big things will be expected of Sheldon this year, and we trust him to get the job done.

In relief of Sheldon this season, others will likely need to step up to help fill Rusthoven’s shoes. Per recent reports, redshirt freshman Jack Whitman still has a nagging shoulder injury, and it looks like he won’t be up to the task at this point. Another redshirt freshman in Michael Schlotman showed some potential last season at the point guard position before injury. Schlotman was redshirted last season after sustaining an early-season injury, but will look to log some serious minutes this year. Schlotman is listed as a 6’4” guard out of Indiana. Another player in freshman Oliver Tot, mentioned below with this year’s freshman class, may also join the mix of players looking to receive a solid amount of playing time this year.

Junior Sean Sheldon (Jonathon Gruenke / Daily Press)
Junior Sean Sheldon (Jonathon Gruenke / Daily Press)

New Faces for the Green & Gold: The Freshmen this year are guards Oliver TotJamison GloverConnor Burchfield, guard/forward Greg Malinowski and forward Paul Rowley. This year’s freshman class is guard-heavy, but brings in some serious talent to a Tribe roster looking to regroup after the loss of four key seniors to graduation. Added depth at the forward position is much needed, and a couple freshmen may need to step up this year in order to make sure the Tribe can produce in the post, both offensively and defensively.

Oliver Tot is an interesting story for this year’s Tribe team. Tot is a Senior Slovakian National Team player who has competed at the international level. The 6’6” guard hails from Bratislava, Slovakia, and has a very high ceiling. He is an athletic guard who has exceptional court vision, and he can score the ball. Tot averaged Averaged 9.5 points, eight assists, and five rebounds per game at Kimball Union Academy last year.

When it’s all said and done, we wouldn’t be surprised if a player like Paul Rowley, out of Loudoun Valley High School, starts to log some serious minutes for the Tribe. Only time will tell which freshmen will be able to see significant playing time this year, but if last season is any indication, twelfth-year head coach Tony Shaver has no qualms about playing true freshmen.

The CAA This Year: The CAA preseason polls were released in October, and had William & Mary finishing second in the CAA. The polls annointed Northeastern as this year’s favorite to win it all, with Hofstra in the three spot and Drexel in the four spot. But as we know, pre-season polls don’t mean much at all. Even still, it’s nice to see the Tribe respected before the season begins.

In addition, Marcus Thornton was named to the CAA Preseason First-Team, and was also named the CAA Preseason Player of the Year. Sophomore Omar Prewitt was named to the CAA Preseason Second-Team.

Looking Forward: Will this year’s young Tribe team be able to thrive in this year’s CAA? Will W&M successfully replace key players from last season? Will the green and gold finally make the Big Dance?! The Tribe’s season kicks off this Friday with an incredibly tough matchup against the University of Florida in Gainesville. You can stream the game online here at ESPN 3 on Friday; the game will also be broadcasted on the SEC Network. To see if you have the SEC Network, check this link! We’re ready for some William & Mary basketball, are you? LET’S GO TRIBE!!!

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