Preview: Men's Basketball Ready to Take Next Step

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - page 2

Seniors Matt O’Hara and Hunter Forsman are dedicated members of two teams at Muhlenberg. They are best known as returning starters on the men’s basketball team, but they are also part of the field crew at home football games – O’Hara is the ballboy on the home sideline, and Forsman holds one of the down markers.

“I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to walk out on Senior Day,” O’Hara quipped. “I guess I’ll have to wait for my own.”

Matt O'Hara
O'Hara leads all active CC players with 214 career assists.
Waiting for anything will be tough for O’Hara and his basketball teammates, who are eager to continue the progress they made last year. Fortunately, they won’t have to wait too much longer, as the 2012-13 season opens up Friday night with a game against Drew in the Scotty Wood Tournament.

The Mules were 18-9 (their most wins in a decade) and reached the Centennial Conference championship game for the first time since 2001 last winter. Four starters are back from that team, and even though the lone exception was one of the top players in program history, the returners are looking forward to establishing their own identity.

“I’m excited,”said Forsman. “We have four starters back with other players who played significant roles last season. We were a younger team last year, and now we have much more experience.”

Hunter Forsman
Forsman was third on the Mules in blocked shots and rebounds (103) last year.
“Our scoring might be a little more balanced and a little more guard-heavy,” added O’Hara. “We have a free-flowing offense, and so far everyone has been very unselfish and sharing the ball. When we play like that, it’s really fun to be part of it.”

Muhlenberg fans had a lot of fun watching Malique Killing as a freshman and should expect more of the style that produced 449 points, a CC freshman record. Killing, a second-team All-CC selection and Mid-Atlantic Region rookie of the year, is one of two returning guards who averaged in double figures last season.

The other is junior co-captain Austin Curry (11.4 points per game), who gives the team strong outside shooting and perimeter defense. Curry led the team with 58 three-pointers, becoming the first Mule to make more than 100 threes (106) in his first two seasons.

O’Hara is a veteran point guard who has started for parts of his first three seasons and led the CC in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.27) last year. The co-captain will again be looked to for steady court leadership.

In the frontcourt, the 6-foot-6 Forsman and 6-foot-10 junior Kevin Hargrove will aim to take on more offensive roles while continuing to provide solid defense. Forsman started 14 games and blocked 16 shots last year, while Hargrove ranks sixth in team history with 112 blocks in only two seasons.

Sophomore AJ Dean was off to a great start before suffering a midseason injury last year and gives the Mules great versatility as a small forward. He finished with averages of 9.2 points and 4.6 rebounds, although those numbers fell a bit when he came back as a reserve player for the last few games.

A pair of juniors, James Albano and Brandon Bovino, will bolster the frontcourt. Albano scored 26 points in 12 games in an injury-shortened 2011-12 season, and Bovino is a welcome returner to the team after taking last year off.

Muhlenberg’s run to the championship game last year was a circuitous one. The Mules lost five of six in January to fall to 4-6 in the CC, then won seven of their last eight regular-season games to earn the second seed in the playoffs.

The team was picked third in the preseason poll, and according to O’Hara, it might take a similar rollercoaster ride to get there.

“Our conference is just tough. I don’t think you can look at the schedule and circle any game that you know you’re going to win or any game that you think you don’t have a chance to win,” he said. “We could lose five in a row and then win 10 in a row, and it wouldn’t surprise anyone.

“It’s fun in that respect, but it gets you nervous as a senior, because you don’t know what to expect.”

If the Mules are able to keep their focus through the tough times, as they did last year, they might reach their ultimate expectation.

“We made it to the championship game last year, and I don’t see any reason why we can’t win it this year,” said Forsman.
Click here for the complete preseason poll.