2008-09 Monmouth Basketball Preview
Hawks look to regroup with four returning starters
There was a feeling heading into the 2007-08 season that the Monmouth Hawks would go through some growing pains. But for the Hawks to finish with just seven wins on the season means that something went terribly wrong. The issue was on the offensive end of the floor, where Monmouth ranked last in the NEC in scoring and field goal percentage, and ninth in three-point percentage. And with just two seniors back this season, head coach Dave Calloway will need some youngsters to be the solution.
But luckily for the Hawks, one of those two seniors is Whitney Coleman, who is the Hawks’ leading returning scorer. Jhamar Youngblood, who led the team in scoring last season, has transferred to Rider but his loss may have been a necessity in regards to the health of the program. Whether or not they get back to the NEC Tournament will hinge on their improvement on offense.
2007-08 Record: 7-24 (4-14 NEC; t-8th)
Head coach: Dave Calloway (149-164 in 11 seasons)
Assistant coaches: Mark Calzonetti, Ron Krayl, Chris Kenny
Home court: William T. Boylan Gymnasium
PPG: Whitney Coleman (11.9)
RPG: Coleman (3.9)
APG: James Hett (3.4)
FG%: Nick DelTufo (49.7%)
3PT%: Yaniv Simpson (42.2%)
FT%: Coleman (89.6%)
Assist/TO ratio: Hett (1.6)
It all begins with Coleman, a guard with the opportunity to earn conference honors at the end of the season. And he’s going to have to improve upon his scoring numbers from last season in leading this team. The starting point guard will once again be James Hett, who started every game at the point for the Hawks last season. Hett led the team in assists per game and assist-to-turnover ratio. Only three Monmouth players finished the season with more assists than turnovers: Coleman, Hett and senior Alex Nunner, who also led the team in made three pointers. He could be a candidate to step into the hole left by the departure of Youngblood.
Two capable outside shooters back on campus in the form of junior Yaniv Simpson and sophomore R.J. Rutledge. Simpson led the team in three-point percentage and came on late in the regular season, while Rutledge shot 35.8% from behind the arc and averaged seven points per game. Also at the point is freshman Will Campbell (Willingboro, NJ), a 5’10” floor general who should push Hett for minutes every day in practice. Sophomore Kevin Schafer will also look to earn playing time, for he only played in five games last season. They may not have the sheer numbers in the backcourt that other NEC teams have, but they’ve got some solid options that they can turn to.
The Hawks lacked depth up front last season, and while they’ve got a few more bodies that they can turn to there’s still an overall lack of experience. Sophomore Nick DelTufo started twenty-four games last season and averaged just under twenty-two minutes per game. Dutch Gaitley played in all thirty-one games last season and finished second on the team in rebounding and first in blocks. Redshirt freshman George Barbour simply has to stay healthy this season, for he is a solid player that can contribute. Junior Shawn Barlow is Monmouth’s tallest player (6’11”) this season, but he rarely saw action last season (two games).
What this lack of experience up front means is that freshmen Mike Myers-Kitt (Waterbury, CT) and Travis Taylor (Union, NJ) should have opportunities to earn playing time. Myers-Kitt is a player who is more comfortable on the wing and could see time there, while Taylor has some height (6’8”) and versatility to add to the frontcourt. But if Monmouth is to qualify for the NEC Tournament this season, the frontcourt will make the difference.
The question mark surrounding Monmouth is pretty obvious, but the backcourt could be good enough to compensate for those deficiencies up front. More options will need to present themselves on offense if the Hawks are to improve on that end of the floor; having two consistent options in Coleman and Youngblood didn’t work out too well last year. It’s going to be a tough chore for Monmouth to get back to the NEC Tournament, but few people thought that they could make up that ground at the end of last season and they were able to get it done.
Team Stats (conference ranking in parentheses)
PPG: 59.2 (11th)
PPG allowed: 67.1 (1st)
FG%: 40.0% (11th)
FG% defense: 43.6% (3rd)
3PT%: 32.1% (9th)
3PT% defense: 33.1% (5th)
FT%: 68.6% (8th)
Rebound margin: -8.6 (11th)
Assist/TO ratio: 0.83 (7th)