November 15, 2012

Season Preview: Men’s basketball aims for consistent campaign

HAVERFORD, Pa. – The Haverford College men's basketball team has thrived from stand-out guard play in recent history. Expect a different look from the Fords in 2012-13 as the team will benefit from a strong inside presence led by junior Brett Cohen.

Cohen finished first on the team and third in the conference in rebounding with an average of 8.6 per game last year. Leading the team on the glass in 17 of 23 games in his sophomore campaign, the forward set a new program standard for offensive rebounds in a season (81). Also the team leader in field goal percentage (.514), Cohen notched five double-doubles on the year, including a 30-point, 18-rebound outburst against Washington College on February 1.

Despite coming off a season of such accomplishment, Cohen continues to be one of the hardest workers in the gym every day. Head coach Mike Mucci, in his 18th year at the helm, identifies Cohen as a player for the rest of the team to emulate. "He is just so consistent," said Mucci. "Each year his game continues to grow and mature."

Averaging the sixth-highest minute total in the conference last season (32.72 per game), Cohen will relish the addition of junior transfer Bo Abrams to help him in the paint.  Abrams, a 6-8 forward, will provide Haverford with a solid 1-2 punch from the post as they have already shown a good chemistry working together.

The presence of Cohen and Abrams should open things up for senior guard Cam Baker, the ninth-leading scorer in the conference in 2011-12, who reached the 1,000-point milestone in his career during the final game of his junior campaign. Baker notched double figures in 17 outings on the way to averaging 14.6 points per game. Also active on the defensive end, Baker led the team in steals with 44.

Baker will have a solid supporting cast joining him in the backcourt as junior Louis Cipriano and sophomore Gibby Graves logged valuable minutes last season.  Cipriano, a long-range threat, hit 25 three-pointers including a season-high five in a road victory over McDaniel on January 12.

Graves registered seven starts in his first collegiate season and brought a high-energy dimension to both ends of the floor for the Fords.

Geoff Hartmann and Lucas Colombo were integral members of the rotation in 2011-12 and Haverford will look for the duo to supply a boost off the bench once again. Hartmann shot .485 from behind the arc while Colombo tallied a career-high nine points in the season finale against Swarthmore. Preseason practice indicates that freshman Anthony Reyes is ready to make an impact in the scoring column as well.

Junior Jordan Taylor and freshman Justin Winkler will be counted on to provide quality minutes behind Cohen and Abrams. Similarly, Mucci sees senior Eli Schwarz furnishing depth at the guard spots.

"Losing Ian Goldberg hurts since he was so valuable in so many ways," said Mucci. "It will take some time to find ourselves but everyone has really been pushing each other at practice." Goldberg topped the conference last year in minutes (35.12) and three-point field goals made per game (2.44). The 2012 first team All-Centennial selection graduated as the third most prolific three-point shooter in program history (170 for 445) and currently ranks 10th on the all-time scoring list.

Picked to finish eighth in the preseason poll of Centennial coaches and sports information directors, the Fords, 9-16 overall and 7-11 in conference play last season, will look to capitalize on a summer of hard work in the Delco Pro-Am League and cohesiveness developed during a Fall Break team trip to Belgium to pay dividends for a roster that features just two seniors.

"We will have more depth this season," reflected Mucci. "It is a competive, positive group overall but we will need some time to grow. We are looking for consistency and hope to stay healthy."

Haverford will once again have to make its way through a treacherous Centennial slate. Mucci thinks Franklin & Marshall, ranked ninth in the national preseason poll, Muhlenberg, Dickinson and Johns Hopkins look strong but feels every conference game will be a battle.

The non-league schedule will also be a challenge as Catholic, Eastern, Moravian and DeSales -- the front runner in the Middle Atlantic Freedom Conference -- come to Gooding Arena.

The season gets underway Friday as Haverford hosts Connecticut College on the opening night of the Equinox Classic at 8 p.m.