Because it’s never too early to be talking Tribe basketball, right? Over the next two weeks we’ll be previewing next year’s squad, beginning here with the team’s starters! You can probably tell we’re already excited for next season, so let’s get to it!
The 2014 season ended with the Tribe garnering an NIT bid, and the team falling one win short of the Big Dance. It was a season that saw W&M go 20-13 and 12-6 in conference play.The squad’s CAA record was good enough to earn a Regular Season CAA Championship, the first in program history. Heading into this coming season, the Green and Gold will have its hands full replacing the program’s all-time leading scorer, Marcus Thornton–but we believe the team is up to the task.
In a world where more and more top-flight college basketball players choose to play just one or two seasons of collegiate basketball before jettisoning for the NBA, isn’t it nice to know that W&M actually retains its players for four straight years? Not only this, but Tribe players graduate with a college degree! But I digress. Graduation is clearly a double-edged sword, because although the team is treated to a player’s four years of production and stability, the team must then deal with replacing players who leave serious holes in the program.
So before considering what the Tribe will look like in 2015, it’s important to consider what the team will be losing this offseason to graduation. As mentioned, the Tribe’s all-time leading scorer, guard Marcus Thornton will have graduated. In addition to Thornton, forward Tom Schalk will also be lost to graduation. Both of these players contributed significantly to the program over the past 4 years–especially as Schalk found his groove during his senior year.
So what does this mean from a numbers standpoint? While the leadership of these two players both on and off the court cannot be quantified, one look at the statistics can tell the Tribe exactly where it needs to put in work this offseason to fill the void. Thornton finished the year contributing 36.7 minutes per game and 20.0 points per game, while averaging 40.2% from beyond the arc. Tom Schalk, really catching on midway through the season, ended up averaging 15 minutes per game and just under 5 points per game.
The team finished second in the CAA in scoring, averaging 73.2 points per game–and finished second in both field goal and free throw percentages. The Tribe also finished tied for first in 3 point field goals made, converting 8.9 threes per game. It’s no secret that Marcus Thornton contributed mightily to these statistics, but Tom Schalk was also able to add another dimension on offense that the Tribe vastly needed.
In short, the Tribe must replace Marcus’ 20 points per game and Schalk’s 5 points per game, while also replacing the valuable minutes that the two combined for a season ago. Also, if the team wants to maintain its success from beyond the arc, the Green and Gold will have replace the 102 three points made by Marcus Thornton. This will prove to be no small task, and may even be impossible, however, Tribe players will need to step up this coming season to fill the void.
New Look: 2015 Tribe Basketball
The Tribe’s starting five will look much the same as it did last year, but will feature one new face. In addition to the starting five, W&M has plenty of depth to work with this coming season. Head Coach Tony Shaver provided the bench with a lot of valuable minutes last season, and it’s time to see if that experience will pay off this coming season.
Projected Starting Five: Terry Tarpey, Daniel Dixon, Omar Prewitt, Sean Sheldon, David Cohn
Sixth Man: Greg Malinowski
Depth: Oliver Tot, Jack Whitman, Connor Burchfield, Michael Schlotman, Jamison Glover, Paul Rowley
[Projected Starter] #0 Daniel Dixon, Junior, Guard (6’5”, 210): To make a long story short, when Dixon was on last year, the Tribe won. The Sophomore guard finished the year averaging just over 11 points per game. Dixon’s main contributions came from beyond the arc, where he finished #1 in the entire CAA in 3-point field goal percentage (45.1%), and 4th overall in 3-points made (73). This coming season, we look forward to seeing Dixon develop even further as a scorer, perhaps adding a nice dribble drive to the basket, which would undoubtedly bring up his scoring averages.
[Projected Starter] #4 Omar Prewitt, Junior, Guard (6’6”, 190): Everyone remembers when Omar dropped an insane 33 points against Hofstra in this past year’s semifinal game. In that game, Prewitt did a little bit of everything–finishing with an incredibly efficient 9 for 14 field goals made. After a relatively slow start a year ago, Omar came on strong and finished the year averaging 13.5 points per game. If Prewitt can get off to a fast start this coming season, the Tribe will be on track for a great season.
[Projected Starter] #34 David Cohn, Sophomore, Guard (6’2”, 170): Cohn transferred to W&M from Colorado State a season ago. Due to NCAA rules, he had to sit out last season, but was able to practice with the team the entire year. In his Freshman season at Colorado State, Cohn played in 31 games with five starts; he averaged 3.9 points and 1.2 rebounds per game, while dishing out 29 assists and garnering 12 steals. He can do a little bit of everything. Head Coach Tony Shaver has spoken very highly of Cohn up to this point, and we expect great things from him. As of now, we’re projecting Cohn as a starter in this coming season’s lineup. Only time will tell as to how well he will mesh with the rest of the boys–but it sounds like he’s more than ready to go.
[Projected Starter] #25 Terry Tarpey, Senior, Forward/Guard (6’5”, 210): Tarpey will undoubtedly be the leader of next year’s team. Tarpey was last season’s CAA Defensive Player of the Year, and truly embodies an all-around player that any team would love to have. At just 6’5”, he averaged 8.4 rebounds per game last year and led the CAA in rebounding. Tarpey also has a nose for the ball, and has become known for forcing steals and creating fast breaks each game. The Tribe will benefit immensely not only from Tarpey’s play on the court this coming season, but also from his leadership.
[Projected Starter] #32 Sean Sheldon, Senior, Forward (6’9”, 256): Sheldon lost some playing time to Tom Schalk a season ago, but he did show a lot of improvement from his Sophomore to Junior year. Probably in no other game was this improvement more apparent than when W&M defeated Northeastern in this year’s inaugural “Gold Rush” game. Sheldon went off, shooting 7 for 9, with 15 points, and 4 total rebounds. However, Sheldon’s offensive production sputtered toward the end of the season, as he averaged a mere 1.75 points per game during the CAA tournament and NIT game. Sheldon has been known for his defense, but we would love to see him develop some more consistent scoring habits. Either way, Sheldon is the tallest player on the team, and will surely see plenty of playing time this coming season.
The Tribe’s starters look to come back stronger than last year, even without the team’s all-time leading scorer. Be on the lookout for next week’s post, which will detail the rest of the Tribe’s squad, including more player-by-player analyses!