The men’s basketball program looks poised to continue its record as one of the elite Division III teams in the nation. Posting a 23-4 overall record last season and undefeated at home since Jan. 19, 2002, the men’s basketball team is again within reach of advancing to the NCAA National Tournament in March.Head Coach Mike Neer, who has led the Yellowjackets to over 400 wins, is confident about the upcoming winter season. Neer, however, will have to do without Tim Sweeney, Justin Hughes and Jeff Joss, three senior guards who were lost to graduation. Rebuilding the backcourt will be a major challenge as the Yellowjackets prepare to take on a strong schedule that will be sure to test the program.Of the 10 returning players from last season, three will be resuming the starting positions they held last year. Senior forward Andy Larkin will be providing leadership on the court. Junior forward Seth Hauben and sophomore guard Gabe Perez will be rounding out the starting core. Neer doesn’t expect to see much of a change in the overall strategic plan, with the emphasis remaining on developing a strong line of inside players to dominate the inner lanes and several guards to provide relief. Providing support to Larkin will be senior center Brian Jones, who was selected as Most Outstanding Player in last March’s NCAA Sectional Tournament and forward Ross Briggs, who contributed over 45 minutes of playing time last season.In the backcourt, Neer will be relying on sophomore guard Joe Canty, junior guards Brendan McAllister and Ryan Mee, and senior guard Macky Bergman-Clark. They will be replacing big shoes left by last year’s seniors, but all of the players have experience in past seasons and have contributed throughout their careers so far.Currently, the Yellowjackets are still trying to shake off some offseason illness and injuries that have hampered early practices before the Nov. 21 tipoff to SUNY New Paltz at the Palestra and the following Thanksgiving tournament. In the meantime, Neer says, “I expect us to concentrate on those things that we can control – our effort, our preparation and our practice habits.”Schloss can be reached at aschloss@campustimes.org.



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