Men's Basketball Opens 2012-13 Season at Southern New Hampshire Tip-off Tonight at 7:30
Friday, November 9, 2012 - New Castle, DE
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Sophomore Rashaun Rasheed (left), junior Herb Dennis (center) and senior Isiah Mason will lead the Wildcats 2012-13
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A solid core of returning guards will look to lead the Wilmington University men’s basketball team back to the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Tournament for the first time in three seasons, dating back to the 2009-10 campaign.
Head coach Mike Gallagher is back for his fourth season at the helm of the Wildcats, looking to improve upon its 10-16 overall record and lead his squad back to the CACC Tournament for the first time since his first season.
Gallagher revamped his coaching staff coming into this year bringing in Philadelphia Area Small College Coaches Association Hall of Famer Nate Ware and an upstart Harrison Singer to join third year assistant coach Vernon Dupree on the sidelines.
“With the knowledge Nate and Harrison bring to the table it is like adding two more head coaches to the program,” Gallagher said of his coaching staff. “We are very excited to welcome Harrison to the program. His energy is contagious. Nate’s presence among the Mid-Atlantic region is immeasurable.”
The team returns three players in the backcourt that saw significant time and started 29 games combined in 2011-12. Herbert Dennis, James Pee and Isiah Mason will be leaned upon heavily for their leadership and knowledge of the system this season.
“Herb’s the engine of this team,” Gallagher said of his point guard that started 15 games last season. “We are going to play as well as he plays this season. When he is shooting the ball well, he is one of the best guards in this league (the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference).”
Heavily loaded in the back court, Gallagher is going to look to get the ball up and down the court, utilizing its strength of ball handling and speed rather than height and strength. Pee can hit the open shot from anywhere on the court while Mason is a multifaceted senior who has experience at both guard positions.
Senior Andrew Corrigan returns to the program after a year hiatus to join Dennis, Mason, and Pee in the backcourt and will provide the hardnosed, often unappreciated things on the court for Gallagher.
Underneath the basket, Gallagher returns big men Brandon Fox and Rashaun Rasheed to the floor. Fox returns as the team’s leading rebounder from a year ago, although only playing in 19 of the 26 games. He averaged 5.9 boards a contest last season. Rasheed played in all 26 games as a freshman last year, averaging 2.7 rebounds and 3.4 points a contest and, if healthy, will be a major factor down low for the Wildcats.
Newcomer Dusan Koijic adds height and depth to under the basket for Gallagher, as his scrappiness and bulldog rebounding on both the offensive and defensive end will be an important feature to this year’s squad.
Gallagher has depth off the bench on the wings, being able to bring in newcomers Shaquille Monroe-Gaskin, Prophet Kates, Robert Byrd and Kyle McCulley off the bench for valuable minutes. Byrd will look to spell Dennis at the point while Monroe-Gaskins, Kates, and McCulley can play the two or three guard positions, providing depth and outside shooting.
Freshmen Shai Henry and Tajee Almon are a pair of swingmen that can be called on for either the three guard or a low post presence off the bench for Gallagher. Almon’s length will be an asset defensively as well, with the ability to rebound and defend at the rim and be called to add depth in the center as well.
“We are going to get contribution from our top 10 guys this year,” Gallagher said of his depth. “Anyone on this roster can step in and play, and they all have the capability to contribute for us. If healthy, we are going to be a deep team this season.”
The Wildcats are going to need to pick up the scoring slack lost last year due to graduation. Leading scorer and the lone Wilmington player in program history to be named All-CACC First Team, Corye Payton, led the team with 18.1 points per game while Matt King added 10.9 points a contest last season in 16 games. Both were lost to graduation.
“It’s definitely going to be a team effort this year,” Gallagher mentioned of the talent they lost from last year. “Herb, Isiah, and Pee will have to pick up what we lost last year offensively, but we can’t be dependent on just those three guys.”
When playing, Fox averaged 11.1 points per game while Dennis chipped in with 9.4 points and 4.1 assists per contest. Mason added 7.3 points a game while Pee had 6.7 points, shooting 35 percent from three point range.
The Wildcats finished fifth in the South Division in the CACC last season and will look to jump Philadelphia, Goldey-Beacom, Chestnut Hill, or Holy Family that finished ahead of them and earned a playoff spot in the CACC Tournament a year ago.
“Anyone can beat anyone in the CACC,” concluded Gallagher. “If we can stay healthy, we will be tough to beat on a nightly basis inside the conference.”