Muhlenberg College

Allentown, Pa.
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Wednesday, November 17, 2004
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Tomorrow ... Women’s Basketball Preview

MEN’S BASKETBALL RETURNS VIRTUALLY INTACT, A YEAR OLDER
Lauro Named to All-Region Team

Muhlenberg volleyball junior Julie Lauro has been named to the 12-person All-Mid-Atlantic Region team by the Amercian Volleyball Coaches Association.

Lauro is the first player in program history to earn a spot on the all-region team. She came close two years ago, receiving honorable mention.

A three-time first-team All-Centennial Conference selection, Lauro ranks 10th in Division III with her CC-leading school-record average of 4.99 kills per game. She also led the Mules in hitting percentage (.254) and blocks (52) and was second with 281 digs, recording 19 double-doubles in 25 matches.

During the season, Lauro became the third player in team history to record 1,000 career kills and 1,000 career digs. She will enter her senior season as the program’s all-time leader with 1,392 kills.

Lauro was one of three CC players on the all-region team; the other two were from Gettysburg.

Experience, it’s been said, is the toughest teacher, because it gives the test first, and then the lesson.

The Muhlenberg men’s basketball team was tested often during a 2003-04 season. Frequently starting three freshmen and a sophomore, and occasionally putting five freshmen on the court, the Mules hung tough against older teams, playing 13 games decided by single-digit margins.
Ryan Bonda
Bonda needs 11 three-pointers to become the eighth player in team history with 100 in a career.
Although they didn’t pass every test, finishing with an 8-17 record and in eighth place in the Centennial Conference, they learned many lessons along the way.

Muhlenberg will get a chance to show what it learned in 2004-05, beginning with this weekend’s Scotty Wood Tournament. All but two of the 16 players who suited up last year are back, and they are joined by one newcomer and a player returning to the program after a season away.

The last time the Mules failed to win 10 games in a season, 1981-82, they pulled off a nine-game turnaround (the best in school history) the following season. With four seniors on the squad and a host of talented, experienced underclassmen, the Mules hope to be the ones handing out the lessons this time around.

Muhlenberg boasts an outstanding young frontcourt in junior Jimmy O’Brien and sophomore Jeff Stewart. The duo finished first and second on the team in most statistical categories last year, and each player received All-CC honorable mention in his first season as a starter.

O’Brien, playing the strong forward position, showed his versatility by ranking second on the team in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals. He averaged 13.2 points and 5.8 rebounds and led the CC with a three-point shooting percentage of .468.

Stewart had a remarkable freshman season, averaging team highs of 16.5 points and 7.9 rebounds while shooting 55.9 percent from the field and blocking 33 shots. The first freshman in team history to earn All-CC honors, Stewart ranked in the top six in the conference in all four categories.

Sophomore post players Justin Fields, Steve Kopecki and Jimmie Riggins showed considerable ability in reserve roles last year.

On the wing, senior Chase Licata was averaging 9.1 points per game when he went down with an injury in late January. The two-year captain and emotional leader of the team, Licata has seen his scoring and rebounding averages rise every year.

Sophomore Tom Scott did an impressive job filling Licata’s shoes, averaging 8.0 points per game and leading the team in assist-to-turnover ratio. He set a school record for freshmen by scoring 35 points in an overtime win at Washington. Sophomore Phil Eckman also got some turns at the small forward spot late in the year, scoring 12 points in his first career start.

Senior Ryan Bonda heads the list of shooting guards. The most experienced player on the team, he averaged 7.6 points last year and led the team with 38 three-pointers. Classmate Dennis Severino, a team co-captain, and sophomore Chris Huber also figure to see time at shooting guard.

Muhlenberg has four point guards on the roster, but several of them are versatile enough to play at other positions and give the Mules a different look. Senior Donté Borden started at point for most of last year and led the team in assists and steals. The second-year captain also had his best offensive season, averaging 5.1 points.

A late addition to the team after transferring from Franklin & Marshall, sophomore Chris Pothering was promising in six starts at point guard. He also proved himself a good shooter and could see time at the other guard.

Sophomores Brandon Mefford, who was sidelined with injury part of last season, Christopher Strachan, returning to the team after taking a year off, will also contend for playing time.


Questions or comments? Send mail to falk@muhlenberg.edu
Last updated November 17, 2004