Men's Basketball Season Preview

Wednesday, November 13, 2013 - page 3
 

Early to bed and early to rise makes the Muhlenberg men’s basketball team think about the Centennial Conference prize.

Austin Curry
Curry averaged in double figures in each of his first three seasons as a Mule and has improved his three-point shooting percentage each year. He finished second in the CC by shooting .424 from behind the arc last year.
Due to conflicts with night classes and other academic commitments, the Mules found that the best time to get the whole team together for practice on weekdays was 7:00 a.m. So for the past three weeks, team members have been waking up in the dark and trudging to Memorial Hall in the early-morning cold.

“It’s something that ahead of time you might dread, but when you actually do it, it’s not that bad,” said James Albano, one of four senior captains for the Mules, who open their 2013-14 season on Friday at 8:00 (p.m., of course) against first-year program Bryn Athyn in the Scotty Wood Tournament.

 

“It was tough to adjust to the first week, but you get in a routine. It’s pretty nice to get out of class and have the rest of the day to yourself,” added Albano, whose personal adjustments included getting to sleep by 11 every night and eating breakfast regularly. “As weird as it is, you’re more focused in the morning because it’s the first thing you do.”

The Mules are focused on competing for the Centennial Conference championship again this year. They reached the championship game two years ago and suffered a two-point last-minute loss in the semifinals last winter. Dickinson, the team that won the title and is the preseason favorite to repeat, is a team that Muhlenberg beat twice last year.

“We feel like we’re right up there,” said Albano. “We think we have a good chance at winning it.”

Brandon Bovino
Bovino was eighth in the CC in rebounding and had three double-doubles last year.
That feeling stems from a roster that includes four returning starters and three other players who saw significant minutes last year. Almost 90 percent of the points the Mules scored are back this year.

Junior guard Malique Killing is the top returning scorer after averaging 19.0 points per game. The two-time All-CC pick set a school record with 514 points last season and enters the 2013-14 campaign just 37 points shy of 1,000 for his career.

 

He’ll be joined in the backcourt by senior Austin Curry, a fourth-year starter who is closing in on 1,000 points himself. He ranks second on the program’s all-time list with 159 career three-pointers.

Sophomore Alec Stavetski will look to move into a starting spot after averaging 8.8 points per game as one of the top freshman scorers in the CC last year, and sophomore Nick Melosky should play a greater role after joining the team midway through his freshman season and giving some quality minutes.

Senior Kevin Hargrove, one of the top defensive players in the CC, is poised to have another big season. The tall center was a first-team All-CC pick after averaging 12.5 points per game, shooting 57.4 percent from the field and leading the league by wide margins in rebounding and blocked shots.

Seniors Brandon Bovino and Albano also return in the frontcourt. Bovino averaged 7.0 points and 7.0 rebounds in his return to the team after taking a year off, while Albano was a key reserve, playing in every game but one.

With those seven experienced veterans returning, Albano isn’t concerned that there are only 11 players on the roster.

“We’re not a deep practice team, but on game night we’re a very deep team,” he said.

They’re also a very close team with excellent chemistry that seems to have all the pieces and knows what it needs to work on.

“Everyone’s been on the same page from the start, which is a huge advantage,” said Albano. “Offensively we’ve done a good job sharing the ball and getting each other open looks. Defense has been kind of a struggle so that has been our biggest focus. We know we need to work on it every day because that’s what’s going to make us a championship team.”