Men’s hoops goes for national title
After finishing fourth in the nation last year, the men’s basketball team hopes to return to the NCAA Tournament this season. Pre-season odds look good, with the Yellowjackets ranked first in three national polls.
Head coach Mike Neer is optimistic about this season’s prospects.'”We know we’re pretty good,” he said. “Self-expectations are important.”
UR’s inside game, along with their depth and the maturity brought by this year’s seniors are the team’s main strengths this season, according to Neer.'”The seniors bring a core maturity and are very responsible,” he said. Of the 13 players on this year’s roster, only one is a freshman.
Returning senior Ryan Kadlubowski will anchor the team at center. At 265 pounds, Kadlubowski provides a critical inside presence for the team.
Also returning to the Yellowjackets’ frontcourt are two juniors? forward Andy Larkin and small forward Makedo Wisseh. According to Neer, Larkin’s solid inside presence and Wisseh’s quickness to the basket are key to the team’s success.
Sophomores Seth Hauben and Ross Briggs will also check in at forward. Both have bulked up and will contribute to UR’s strength on the inside.
UR’s backcourt also promises to be competitive with returning seniors Justin Hughes and Tim Sweeney competing for the starting spot at point guard. Their experience running the offense during last year’s championship run will contribute to the team’s success this season.
Senior Jeff Joss will play at the two-guard. In addition to his shooting skills, Joss will contribute on the other end of his court with his smothering defense. “[Joss] is a very tough physical defender and a deadly shooter,” Neer said.
Adding to the Yellowjackets’ backcourt depth are four other returning guards. They incldue junior Macky Bergman-Clark, and sophomores Brendan McAllister, Ryan Mee and Gabe Perez, all of which are strong shooters.
Mee’s strength is from behind the 3-point arc, illustrated when he went five for five on threes last season against Nazareth. Perez plays a physical game and, according to Neer, is, “strong enough to create problems.”
The sole freshman on the team is Joe Canty who will check in at the guard position. At 6’4″, Canty is a good passer and a solid defender. “[Canty] played at a very strong high school program,” Neer said. “He’ll fit in well.”
This year’s team has come back expecting a winning season and Neer has noticed that all his players are stronger this year. “During the first couple of days, it was noticeable that the players had committed to practice during the off-season,” he said.
If this week’s pre-season scrimmage against Brockport was any indication, the Yellowjackets are well prepared for their upcoming season. “We looked like we knew what we were doing,” Neer said. “We had a game plan and we executed it. All 13 players showed a high quality of play.”
Despite Neer’s hopefulness, he knows that the road back to the NCAA Tournament will not be easy. Because of the way tournament bids work, UR must win the UAA conference title over Washington University, the other team ranked first in preseason polls. “We could be a better team and not make it,” Neer said.
For now, UR will focus on the basics. “These guys are smart,” Neer said. “Individually, they all bring something to the table, but they have to form good habits now.” The team will open their season on Nov. 22 when they take on Alfred University.
22nd place not good enough for men
But just because the cross country season ends doesn’t mean that the athletes, as well as the coach, take a break for the remainder of the year. Instead, they simply shift their focus from outdoor distance running to the indoor events of track and field. With 19 different events in which members of the team compete, the indoor track and field team, which will be cut down to 40 athletes by the first meet of the season on December 7th, is much larger than the 14 member cross country team. But despite the expanded roster and variety of events in which the athletes participate, coach John Izzo said that “the approach remains pretty much the same. The goal is still to peak at the end of the February and the beginning of March,” just as the season nears its end and the Championship meets are approaching. If all goes according to plan, the ultimate goal for the team is to improve upon the team’s 5th place showing at last year’s New York State Championships and the 22nd place result of the ECAC Championships, and make it to Nationals. Unlike the cross country season, however, in which all of the events count team scoring as a whole, there are certain meets in which the team participates that don’t count the entire team’s results. Instead, they focus on individual achievements and producing as many strong performances as possible in an attempt to send more athletes to nationals.
The outlook for the upcoming season looks extremely positive for the men’s track and field team, although some members of the team head into the season still trying to recover from injuries sustained during the cross country season. Izzo was very excited to say “if we stay healthy, we have a very talented group of track and field people. We should have an excellent team.” The excellent team he spoke of consists of two returning State Champions, Jacob Budny and Giancarlo Rondash. They also have what Coach Izzo called “a great recruiting class.” He added, “we have three legs back from our 4 x 400 relay team. Of the 19 events, we’re very competitive in nearly all of them.”
The biggest concern the team has, as was the case with cross country in the fall, is the injury bug. As Izzo said, “on paper we’re going to be tough, we just have to hope we stay healthy and we’ll show it on the track and in the field.”
Women try to build upon sixth place finish
Once the cross country season ends, most of the women will simply move their practices indoors for the winter track and field season. Coach Barbara Hartwig said of the track team “I hope that they show the same desire and enthusiasm that the cross country team had.
Talent is important of course, too, and the talent is definitely there. We’re going to focus on being a very close-knit team. We have to make sure we put emphasis on both the individual performances as well as the team’s.”
The approach to the season, however, is different than in cross country. Instead of just a single event that each member of the team competes in, there is a lot of specialization, as there are approximately 20 events depending on the given meet. But on the other hand, a well balanced team such as this one can be very successful.
Hartwig said “we have a very solid team in that we expect to score points in every single event. We have no major weaknesses. We just have to keep people healthy and I expect us to be a top competitor. I’m looking forward to starting the season.”
Despite the differences in the approach to coaching and practices, the primary goal of the team is very similar to that of the cross country team. With the important events coming near the end of the season, Hartwig said “I hope that we peak when it counts.”
With a new assistant coach and several new throwers, Hartwig said “I’m excited to watch the season develop for them. In past years we have not enjoyed the depth we’re going to finally have this season. I think we’ll be competitive in all throws.” She also noted her sprinters as a group that she expects big things from, stating “they have been working hard all fall, and they’re showing signs that they’re going to be a force again this season.”
If the team keeps its focus and continues to build upon last season’s results, Hartwig said she believes the team can certainly perform even better than their 6th place finish at last year’s New York State Championships.
Women’s hoops looks to repeat
The women’s basketball team looks forward to another strong year after winning the East Coast
Athletic Conference and ending last season with a 18-9 record.
The team is expected to be strong, with many players returning from last season and some fresh faces to round out the bill. The coaching staff also has a few years of experience under their belts. The Yellowjackets’ head coach Jim Scheible is returning for this fourth year and assistant coach Beth O’Boyle for her third. “Our key point is that our experience [having so many returning players and coaches] is a definite plus,” said Scheible.
Four of last year’s five starters are returning this year. Junior Erika Smith, senior Sarah Sullivan and sophomores Kelly Wescott and Megan Fish hope to continue their successful streak with the helpful addition of freshmen Bobbi Stewart and Jenna Filia, who coach Scheible expects to have an impact as first year players.
Other important returning players include junior Shannon Higgins, who averaged 6.1 points and 4.4 rebounds a game and sophomore Hallie Frederick, who had 42 assists last season. Seniors Tara Carozza and Ann Gotstein are also expected to continue their strong presence on the court.
While the team’s prospects look good, coach Scheible cautioned that every game is still a battle for the win. “It means a lot having so many returning players, since we tied for third in the University Athletic Association and based on the number of returns we are hoping to do even better. But you have to earn that,” said Scheible.
The team looks to University of Washington at St. Louis as a traditional favorite in the UAAs, and New York University, Case Western Reserve University, Carnegie Mellon University, Ithaca College and Nazareth College as other tough teams on this year’s schedule.
Overall, the outlook for this season is good. “Our main overriding goal is to compete at our own expectations every game,” Scheible said. “If we do that, the NCAA tournament is a realistic hope at the end of the year.”
Yellowjackets will rely on depth
The wintertime means 23 straight weeks of long, grueling practice for the UR men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams. To be successful on the swimming and diving team requires discipline and dedication, considering that the team is required to attend two morning and five afternoon practices a week.
Head coach Julie Benker-O’Brien understands that the season can get monotonous, and for this reason the team takes a training trip over winter break that has sent previous teams to locations such as Acapulco, Pasadena, Calif. and Key West, Fla. In her seventh season at UR Benker is joined by two new assistant coaches ? Eric Stefansky, a 1998 University of Pittsburgh graduate, and Stacy Wells, who graduated from Syracuse University last year ? that will inspire both the men’s and women’s teams to improve on last year’s performance.
Unfortunately for the Yellowjackets the collegiate swimming scoring system accents the superstars and pushes the grinders aside. The first place finisher receives nine points while second through fifth place earn four, three, two and one point respectively. In order to counteract a first place finish you must finish second, third, and fourth. Right now both teams are looking for swimmers to step up and take those key first place points. Whether any big guns emerge this season will likely determine the fate of the men and women.
The focus for both teams will be the Championship meets, especially the Upstate Collegiate Athletic Association meet, which UR will be hosting, and the University Athletic Association meet. Look for hard work to translate into late season success for the Yellowjackets.
Last season the UR men’s swimming and diving team finished with a 4-5 dual meet record, placing seventh in the UAA and fourth in the UCAA.
The team will look to use their depth to improve on last year’s results. “The team’s depth is definitely their biggest strength, but right now we do not have the guaranteed first place finishes that the collegiate scoring system demands,” said Benker. The 19 man squad will be captained by a versatile swimmer in the form of the team’s lone senior, Mike Reinhardt. One of the team’s strongest swimmers is junior breaststroke specialist, Mark Radloff. Radloff, who placed in both breaststroke events at last year’s UAA Championship meet, will also be used for the individual medley and distance freestyle. Another junior, Mike McCormick will have a competitive showing in the sprint butterfly, and will also swim the IM and freestyle events. One of the nice surprises for the men is freshman diver Ted Elton, who will be expected to put up points in the one and three meter springboard events. “We are very excited to have Ted. He brings limited experience, but is already making great strides,” said Benker.
A deep core that includes juniors Brian Immerman and Mike Tynan as well as sophomores Alex Provan and Kevin Vander Naald will also support the team. High expectations will also be placed on newcomers freshman Chris Porco and juni or Ryan Zinchefski.
The team’s season will be highlighted by the two Championships meets, as well as major dual meets against Rochester Institute of Technology and Brandeis University. With added depth and solid performances the team will look to finish the season above .500 and improve upon their conference finishes.
Last season the UR women’s swimming and diving team finished with a 6-4 record in dual meets, and finished sixth in the UAA and third in the UCAA.
The 2002-2003 season brings 28 very fit women to the squad. As of right now the team has no apparent weaknesses and has found their biggest strength to be in numbers. This year brings a group of nine incoming freshmen that will provide a breath of fresh air to the experienced team.
The squad will be captained by freestyle sprinter, senior Christina deVries. “She [Christina] is a truly competitive swimmer that has greatly developed over her four years here,” said Benker. Other seniors that instill a competitive drive in the team are backstroke specialist Kristin Broderick and breaststroker Jackie Staple.
Adding experience to the core will be junior Tiffany Siu ? who will see time in the butterfly, IM and distance freestyle events ? and distance freestyle swimmer, sophomore Ann Richards. On the diving board, junior Rebecca Wildner and freshman Patrica McHale will look to pick up valuable points.
The team will be very competitive this winter and with their numbers, they should improve upon last year’s conference finishes. In addition to the Championship meets, the women will gear up for meets against Union College and Ithaca College.
Squash sets goal of top 20 ranking
As the lone Division I representative at UR, the squash team has a tremendous amount of pressure to show other Division I mainstays such as Harvard, Stanford and Northwestern how competitive UR athletics really are.
The Yellowjackets hope to improve on a wretched 2-16 record from the 2001-2002 campaign. The team is not short on experience, however. UR returns ten players from last year’s squad.
UR Squash is led by senior, number one player Allen Fitzsimmons, who is a three year veteran on the squad. Positions two through four are up for grabs between three players. Gen Izumida, Billy Ferzoco and Dave Easwaren will all battle for the second spot. A similar clash will be staged for the fifth spot between three players. That contest will involve Drew Chapman, Pete Avitable and Dave Sokoloff. Other players to see time are Max Benjamin, Doo-Ho Yoo and Avinash Reddy.
The Yellowjackets have several goals for the season. “We’re hoping to beat several Top 20, nationally ranked teams,” Avitable said. Secondly, they’d like to put forth a better performance in the postseason NISRA national team finals. “We wound up in the bottom of the third bracket last season,” Avitable added,”and this year we’d like to wind up on the top.” Finally, UR would like to receive more recognition and prominence on campus. “It would be some achievement for us if we were recognized as one of the best a
thletic programs on the UR campus,” Sokoloff said.
UR opens its season this weekend versus Franklin & Marshall at 6 p.m. at the Peter Lyman squash courts. The toughest opponent that UR will face this season is Trinity College, which is ranked number one nationally. Other difficult opponents include Stanford, Vassar and Navy. Through it all, the members of the UR squash team have been able to maintain their humor. “It is also our goal to outdraw the football team in attendance,” Sokoloff joked.