Norwich men's basketball season preview
NORTHFIELD, VT. – Norwich University men's basketball coach Paul Booth knows where the road map to success lies for his team.
"We'll look to three important upperclassmen players for leadership," he said. "With them on the team, there is experience of what need to do to reach our goals."
NU's nucleus consists of junior guards Josh Cabrera (Providence, R.I.) and Ryan Williams (Dallas, Texas) and senior forward Antonio Davis (Albany, N.Y.). Davis led the 2010-11 squad in scoring (15.4 ppg), rebounding (nine pg), blocked shots (26), and field goal percentage (50.6). Cabrera ranked third in scoring (10.7 ppg) and joined his fellow front court mate Williams to be an effective one-two punch from outside the arc, hitting 38 of 104 attempts for 36.5 percent. He was also the top performer at the charity stripe a year ago, hitting at 81.3 percent. Williams canned 31 of 84 three-point tries (36.9) and was one of the four Cadets' players to average in double figures in scoring (10.6).
"Those three are our strength coming in," Booth, who enters his 19th season, said. "The key to this season will be how the rest of the guys can come in and step into their roles. We have some players who have opportunities to get some strong playing time. It's up to them what they do with that."
NU's head coach feels good about his perimeter game with Cabrera and Williams leading the way and the sophomore tandem of Alex Meyers (Laguna Niguel, Calif.) and Tommy McDonald (Groton, Mass.) joining them. McDonald appeared in all but one game a year ago, while Meyers saw action in over half of the games with 14 appearances.
"Both Alex and Tommy were able to get on the floor as freshmen which helps them coming in," Booth said. "I like what this group offers us. They give us a strong outside shooting presence."
Inside the paint, Booth admits the Maroon and Gold will need to see their young players develop quickly. "Antonio made tremendous steps between his sophomore and junior seasons," he said. "His progress was tremendous and hopefully we continue to see him improve in that way."
Junior Ian Marquis (Stratton, Vt.) and sophomore Ian Boyko (Whitefield, N.H.) are the two early possibilities to provide support for Davis and the Cadets on the inside. Marquis appeared in 13 games a year ago. Booth also mentioned junior Brandon Kuhre (Lebanon, N.H.) and freshman Evan Tullar (Chelsea, Vt.) as options. Kurhe played in all 27 games and started nine times in 2010-11.
"We really need those four to step up and produce," Booth said. "It's very important to how this season goes."
"Overall, it's a nice situation for us to have the returning strength of those three key lettermen plus some individuals who got some key playing time last season," he added. "As I mentioned earlier, it all comes down to how fast the new guys can step in and perform at this level."
The Cadets open the campaign November 15 when traditional rival Plattsburgh State visits Andrews Gymnasium for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff. Other highlights for the 2011-12 team include the annual Ed Hockenbury Classic December 3 and 4 and the opening of the Great Northeast Athletic Conference slate Dec. 8.
NOTES: Norwich looks to resume its recent success on the hardwood. The Cadets finished 16-11 a year ago and 13-13 and 2009-10. … Booth hopes that a strong finish to the 20010-11 slate resumes with the beginning of 2011-12. Norwich ended last year winning six of its final nine games. … The upperclassman trio of Cabrera, Davis and Williams made itself known in the box scores a year ago. The trio was among the leading scorers 14 times and the leading rebounders 19 times.