Thursday, November 28, 2013

Preview: Marist Men Blending Old With New Coach

Here's another in the series previewing conference teams.

Up now ...


2012-13 RECORD: 6-12 in the MAAC, 10-21 overall.

KEY LOSS: Guard Devin Price (13.7 points, 2.4 rebounds per game).

KEY NEWCOMER: 6-2 freshman guard Khalid Hart.

EARLY STARTERS: 6-5 senior forward Jay Bowie (9.4, 4.9 last season), 6-10 senior center Adam Kemp (10.4, 8.6), 6-5 junior swingman Chavaughn Lewis (16.7, 5.7), 5-8 junior guard Isaiah Morton (7.4, 3.9), 6-2 freshman guard Khalil Hart.

NOTABLE: Off to an 0-7 start, the losses by an average of 19.3 points per game, although the last two losses (to Loyola Marymount by 6 and to Morgan State by 7 in OT) have been close. And, there have been some tough opponents, including St. Joe's, Providence and Maryland ... First year for new coach Jeff Bower, who spent the last 15 years in various NBA capacities. Bower is a former Marist assistant (under Dave Magarity), but the roster, right now, is almost entirely composed of players recruited by previous coach Chuck Martin. None of Bower's recruits are averaging more than eight minutes per game so far ... It's a veteran team (two seniors, four juniors in the playing group) that should be competitive when the competitive level gets a little easier ... Still, there are always adjustments to a new coach/playing style ... Lewis is one of the league's best players and a second-team preseason all-MAAC selection. Kemp, one of the best real "bigs" in the league, is also a preseason second-team selection ... Kemp and Bowie are the two seniors, and Bowie is a real "glue" player who does everything. He shot 52.7 percent from the field, 45.8 percent from three-point land and 83.3 percent from the foul line last season. But, he only played 18 games a year ago due to some mid-season injuries, and Marist wasn't as good without him. He's averaging 10.1 points and 5.3 rebounds so far ... Bowie and Lewis (15.3 ppg.) are the only double-figure scorers to date ... There's a battle for playingn time at the guard spot between returning junior Morton, and highly touted Hart, a redshirt freshman who blew out a knee during preseason last year. For now, Hart seems to be getting more minutes, and is averaging 9.3 ppg., third best ... 6-10 senior forward Peter Prinsloo, lightly used in the past, is now firmly in the playing rotation and is averaging 3.8/4.7 ... sophomore swingman Manny Thomas (1.7/0.7) and sophomore forward Phillip Lawrence (1.6, 1.0) are the other key reserves ... Things don't get easier soon, though, for Marist ... their first upcoming MAAC games (Dec. 4, 6) are against Iona and Manhattan, the perceived top two teams in the conference.

STRENGTHS: Two of the better individual players in the league in Kemp and Lewis, another key veteran in Bowie. Bower's resume should help attract strong players, but that won't help much this season. With only one player returning, team chemistry should be solid even with a first-year coach.

WEAKNESSES: The point guard spot ... it's either Morton, who has had a tenuous grasp on the role in the past, mostly because of his disinclination to shoot, or freshman Hart. The team also lacks height, other than Kemp. There's no true power forward on the roster, which is why Prinsloo's minutes have increased this year.

REASONABLE EXPECTATION: League coaches picked Marist for fifth in their preseason poll. That might be a little high, and that thought was there even before the 0-7 start. While fifth isn't out the realm of possibility, sixth or seventh is probably more like it.

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