Coming off the heels of a very disappointing end to the season last year, the West Chester University Men’s Basketball team faces a season that will reveal plenty of new faces, opponents and hopefully a much different end to the season. The Rams graduated seven seniors last year including three-time All-PSAC center/power forward Aaron Williams and versatile forward Donnell Butler, but the team hopes that their 11-man recruiting class can help offset these two crucial losses.
Along with Williams and Butler, the team also lost three point specialist Shawn Werdt, point guard Justin Westmoreland, bruising forward Nathan Wingerd and a high energy player in Anthony Geiger. With such little experience returning, this team will ride and die on the shoulders of forward Lenwood Greenwood, guard Kenneth St. George, guard Kevin Stokes and center/power forward Gerald Caldwell, who was red-shirted last season.
FRONTCOURT: Greenwood is the team’s most consistent player and certainly its most versatile. The 6’5″, 235 pound forward is a force on the glass, amassing nearly nine rebounds per game last season to go along with his 11.6 points per game. If this team is to improve upon its 13-14 record from last season, Greenwood’s numbers need to improve. How much? Glad you asked.
“Being the only senior on the team, I need to be the leader of this team, and that means probably averaging 18 points per game and also adding 10 or 11 rebounds,” Greenwood said.
As a player who, at times, was relegated to the third or fourth scoring option behind Williams, Butler, and at times St. George, Greenwood averaged less than nine shots per game last year. He will need to be a huge factor in the paint if the Rams figure to be a PSAC contender.
Caldwell, a 6’9″, 210 pound center, will be a rookie this season in game experience, but not to the team. His redshirt season last year allowed him to get practice time against one of the PSAC’s best in Williams and is sure to have helped him out. A Caldwell and Greenwood frontcourt definitely should have coach Dick Delaney salivating at the possibilities.
The very athletic Sam Scott should see extended minutes this season after only averaging 6.3 minutes per game. The sophomore, who also doubles as an outside linebacker for the Rams’ football team, has unlimited potential as a small forward and could push for some serious playing time.
BACKCOURT: St. George will be the backcourt’s biggest contributor. He was a pleasant surprise for the Rams last season. St. George stepped in as a freshman and displayed maturity beyond his years as he finished fourth on the team in scoring with 10.4 points per game despite playing in only 20 games due to a shoulder injury.
Diminutive point guard Kevin Stokes also returns this season. Stokes is arguably one of the conference’s finest defensive players at any position, able to stick to his man like glue. Despite only being 5’7″ and 150 pounds ,Stokes plays with reckless abandon and refuses to be muscled off the ball. Sophomore Joe Opalka saw limited minutes last season but still made 3-7 on 3 point attempts, and will be called on to replace Werdt’s role.
So how good is this team and how good can it become?
“It’s different this year,” Greenwood said. “We have no pressure and we’re underdogs, and that works well. This team has the potential to be the best one in my three years here.”
This, a team that lost seven seniors, can be better?
“Yes, I mean it. There’s been so many pickup games, everyone likes each other. There’s the most chemistry on one team since I’ve been here,” Greenwood added.
Only time will tell how good this team can be, but the team now faces heightened expectations after Greenwood’s statements.
Matt Chandik is a third-year who is undeclared. He can be reached at MC618553@wcupa.edu.