Nov. 17, 2010
NORTH DARTMOUTH, MA-The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth men's basketball team is poised for another banner season.
The Corsairs, who have appeared in the NCAA Division III Championships in two of the past three seasons, hope that a combination of returning veterans and new talent will help them once again rise to the top of the Little East Conference.
Last year, UMass Dartmouth went 18-9 and advanced to the semi-finals of the LEC Tournament. This year, they hope to win the league title and return to the NCAAs.
"Due to the loss of our seniors from last year, we're regrouping, and we have a lot of new faces," said UMass Dartmouth Head Coach Brian Baptiste. "The length of time that it takes our new players to adjust to the style that we play will determine how successful we'll be. We have a good, experience point guard in (junior) Paul Rose (Boston, MA/North Cambridge Catholic HS/Mass Bay CC), we return our best scorer in (senior forward) Brandon Stephens (Dorchester, MA/Newton North HS), and we have (junior guard) Alex Klepadlo (Bernardston, MA/Pioneer Valley Regional HS). That experience will help us."
The point guard position should be a strength. "At the point, Paul Rose is a second-year starter who has a lot of skills," said Baptiste. "He is not only a good floor leader, but he can also score. His first responsibility is to lead the team and get the ball into the hands of our scorers. If they sag off or pay attention to someone else, he has the ability to score."
At the point, UMD will have depth. "Our backup is a freshman, Emmanuel Tarwoe (Worcester, MA/Worcester North HS), and I expect him to be an important player for us this year," said Baptiste. "He's a good floor leader, a very good defender, and he has all the capabilities of being an outstanding point guard in the future. We also have (senior) John Kanarski (Marblehead, MA/Marblehead HS), who works hard every day. He loves to play basketball, he is a great asset to our team, and he will be a backup at the point."
The other guard spot is in capable hands. "Our two guard is Brandon Stephens, who was the Rookie of the Year as a freshman, and was first team All-Conference last year. He has progressed nicely as a team leader, he is one of our captains, he plays with a lot of energy, and he will have a very significant role for this team."
Stephens will have a few good players behind him. "Jon Pavao, a freshman from Fall River and Durfee High School, is extremely athletic, a very good scorer, and very quick on the defensive end," said Baptiste. "He has all the capabilities to be an outstanding player at our level. (Freshman) John Genkos (Worcester, MA/Doherty HS) is an outstanding three-point shooter who has a scorer's mentality. If he is open when he catches it, he shoots it, and he has very good accuracy. He should become an outstanding player. We also have (freshman) Daniel Telemaque (Somerville, MA/Prospect Hill Academy), who is a very good outside shooter who can score from the three-point line and has good basketball instincts."
Klepadlo is another returning starter who will play up front. "Alex is a co-captain who had a very strong year," said Baptiste. "He is a complete player, he can score, defend, reads defenses well, is an outstanding student, and a leader."
The other two starting spots are up for grabs. "We have (junior) Colin Burns (Chepachet, MA/Ponaganset HS), a transfer from CCRI, who will be one of our best players. He is a slasher and a three-point shooter, and he will bring a lot more excitement to our team. (Freshman) Steve Handy (Oak Bluffs, MA/Martha's Vineyard Regional HS) is a good athlete, a good three-point shooter, and has a good head for the game right now. (Freshman) Mike Pavelko (Medina, OH/Highlands HS/Laurinburg Institute) is a 6-4 athlete capable of guarding a big body in the post. He can score inside as well as from the three-point line, he has good quickness, and he should be a very good player. (Senior) Kyle Yeadon (Hanson, MA/Whitman-Hanson HS) is an outstanding scorer from the perimeter, while (junior) Justin Pulver is 6-8 and a hard worker with an uncanny sense around the basket for rebounds and put backs who plays with a lot of energy. (Sophomore) Deshaun Dell (Dorchester, MA/Boston English/Lasell) is our most outstanding athlete who will help us in terms of rebounding."
The Corsairs have utilized a pressure defense in the past, but things may be a little different this year. "We're going to pick and choose more often than we did in the past," said Baptiste. "We are not going to press as much as we did last year. We are still going to be up-tempo, but we have to be more solid defensively, and get more stops."
Defense will be emphasized. "I think the key will be how well we defend," said Baptiste. "If we defend better than we did last year, it will help us. I don't have a lot of concerns about the offensive end. We have a lot of players who can score Our depth will also be a big factor in our success."
UMass Dartmouth always plays a challenging schedule, and this year is no exception. "This might be one of the toughest schedules we have played," said Baptiste. "Each of the tournaments we are in has four strong teams. Sometimes you can slide by with an easy game, but that won't be the case this year. All of our non-conference opponents are pretty good. Our conference should be strong, as there are a lot of teams returning a lot of players from last year. It should be an interesting season."