WASHINGTON – Looking to improve upon last year's accomplishments the Gallaudet University men's basketball team starts their 2014-15 season under direction of third-year Head Coach Brendan Stern.
Stern returns six players from last year's roster but has as a combination of new and familiar faces. When asked what's the biggest difference from last year's team compared to this year's team Coach Stern was quick to point to the camaraderie that has been displayed among the players.
"They seem to enjoy each other's company and love the game of basketball and that often goes a long way," said Stern.
The newfound chemistry should help propel the Bison in the 2014-15 season. GU will look to its two seniors in guard/forward Anton Jackson (Detroit, Mich.) and guard Ben Coleman (St. Paris, Ohio) to help guide the way this season.
"We'll be as successful as the quality of their veteran leadership," added Stern.
Jackson last season averaged 10.4 points per game and was ninth in the conference in steals (28). Coleman averaged 10 points per game, 2.4 assists per-game and led the team in free-throw percentage (.880).
Junior Trey Gordon (Talladega, Ala.) and sophomore Conrad Baer (Fremont, Calif.) return to again for the Bison. Gordon averaged 11.2 points per game ranking 26th in the conference, as Baer had 47 points, 27 assist and 20 steals on the season. GU also brings back football star Todd Bonheyo (Frederick, Md.), who will make his return to the hardwood for the first time since the 2011-12 season.
Led by sophomore Raymond Nelson (Riverside Calif.), GU adds four additional talents to the backcourt this year with freshemn Rashad Gatlin (Chicago, Ill.),Toraneau Varice (Deerfield Beach, Fla.) and Adam Pagan (New York, N.Y.). Stern believes Nelson has the potentia to be a dangerous player in the region.
The Bison look to 6-foot-8 sophomore Joshua McGriff (Somerset, N.J.) to anchor the Bison down low after having a successful 2013-14 season. McGriff, who was the 2013-14 North Eastern Athletics Conference (NEAC) Rookie of the Year, looks to improve off of his first season with the Bison. He led the team in scoring (14.2 per game), rebounding (7.3 per game) and blocks (2.2 per game). His block mark was tied for tops in the NEAC as he finished the year with 326 points, 167 rebounds and 51 blocks.
The team adds six newcomers to the GU front court as freshmen Dakota Daniels (Fremont, Calif.), Dalton Etkie (Austin, Texas), Connor Baer (Fremont, Calif.), Andy Cruz (Bronx, N.Y.), Dakota Kalis (Winter Haven, Fla.) and sophomore Anthony Finocchio (Brooklyn, N.Y.) all look to add depth to the unit.
The 2014-15 season opens at home against non-conference foe Yeshiva University on Nov. 16 at the Field House. After a brief road trip, GU returns home to open up North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) play against Penn College on Nov. 23.
Following, the Bison will remain home for three straight weekends, during which GU will be hosting its annual Holiday Tournament (Dec. 5 and 6) welcoming Maryland Bible College, Fisher College and Valley Forge Christian College. The Bison close out the homestand and the month of December against non-conference opponent Goucher College.
After returning from winter break the Bison will finish the rest of the season against conference opponents. The Bison will start the spring semester on the road against Penn St.-Abington on Jan. 6. Two days later, the Bison return to the Field House to face new conference member Bryn Athyn College followed a one-game road trip against Penn College (Jan. 10).
GU will then start a three-game homestand against SUNY Cobleskill (Jan. 17), SUNYIT (Jan. 18) and Wilson College (Jan. 21). Following the homestand the Bison will hit the road for two games against Cazenovia College (Jan. 24) and Morrisville State College (Jan. 25).
The Bison return home for five games against Penn St.-Abington (Jan.28), Lancaster Bible College
(Jan. 31), Penn St.-Berks (Feb. 1), Keuka College (Feb. 7) and Wells College (Feb. 8).
Following the home games GU will finish the regular season with four road games against Wilson College (Feb. 14), Bryn Athyn (Feb. 18), Lancaster Bible (Feb. 20) and finishing up at Penn St.-Berks (Feb. 21). The conference tournament begins Feb. 24 and continues through the weekend of Feb. 28-March 1.
The Bison ultimate goal for the season is to improve from last year when they finished 6-19 overall and 5-13 in the NEAC. Gallaudet has great numbers entering the season with 16 student-athletes on the roster. The return of McGriff along with the veteran leadership should help the Bison improve from last year and go after a bid into the NEAC tournament.
"We need to improve everyday and to focus on what we control; energy and effort," said Stern.
2014-15 Gallaudet University Men's Basketball