Winter Sports Preview: Men's Basketball
The men;s basketball season tips off with an exhibition tomorrow night at Georgia State before the Petrels begin the regular season in earnest on November 15 at LaGrange College. Gopetrels.com previews the upcoming 2011-12 season for the Stormy Petrels.
2011-12 Season Outlook
After graduating three 1,000 point career scorers last spring in Todd Ward, Joe Kennedy and Alex Richey, the 2011-12 Stormy Petrels will look to continue their stay among the elite of the SCAC by blending a mixture of returning talent and new recruits. Considering head coach Philip Ponder's ability to regenerate winning squads year after year, the Petrel faithful hope 2011-12 is no different. After all, Oglethorpe is one of only two teams in the SCAC to post 15 wins or more in each of the last four years, and one of only three league members to post a winning record five years running.
"This season reminds me of 2007-08, when we went into the year having graduated seven of our top eight players," said coach Ponder of the upcoming campaign. "We were young and inexperienced, and a lot of people thought we were going to have a down year, and yet we won two more games that year than the previous year. I'm sure some of the SCAC coaches expect us to have a down year, considering who we graduated. I'm not going to predict a win total, but I do think we are going to surprise some people. This is a young team, but it has a lot of potential."
Success in 2011-12 starts with Oglethorpe's two returning starters, junior point guard Alec Pitts and senior post Andrew Steioff, each of whom were All-SCAC Honorable Mention selections last year. In Pitts the Petrels have a scoring point guard who can also break down defenses to feed open teammates. Last year, he was one of the most efficient scoring guards in the league, making 46% of his field goal attempts, 41% of his threes and converting 80% of his free throws. Steioff, meanwhile, is a heady low-post player who is an excellent scorer along the baseline. His game featured a stretch last season where he connected on 21 consecutive field goal attempts, demonstrating his shooting acumen.
Other key returners include backcourt dynamos senior Tyler Cerone, junior Christian Molinet and junior Branden Jovaag. Molinet will be asked to use his superior size for a guard to create defensive havoc and get the Petrels into their fast break. Cerone is a deadly three-point shooting specialist who will bring a big spark off the bench while Jovaag represents the team's most pure shooter, likely to crack the starting lineup. The team will also benefit from the return of senior Sam Purdy, whose superior length (6'6) and deft shooting touch (made 54% from downtown last year) make him a matchup nightmare. Sweet shooting sophomore guard Tyler Courson and low-post specialist Alex Vital round out the returners expected to take on bigger roles in 2011-12.
Joining the returning players are seven new recruits which include two sophomore transfers and five freshmen, many of whom will play key roles in the success of 2011-12. The sophomore transfers are guard Aaron Del Rosario (Miami, Fla.) and forward Mackeile Satchell (Boston, Mass.). The freshmen ready to step in and make an impact are guard Drew Bollier (Dacula, Ga.), forward Sean Overstreet (Jacksonville, Fla.), post Jordan Kinney (Acworth, Ga.), guard Alex Davis (Thomasville, Ga.) and post Chad Porterfield (Snellville, Ga.).
"We have a chance to be extremely versatile this year," said Ponder in summing up the team's outlook. " We can go big, we can go small, we can go athletic, or we can put a lights out shooting team on the floor, all based on combinations. We may have multiple personalities as a team this year and I'm looking forward to coaching using a variety of styles."