RELEASE DATE: 10/28/09
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Mansfield men picked third in PSAC East Coaches Preseason Poll – Yuseff Carr named to preseason All-Conference team
MANSFIELD – One thing is for sure about the Mansfield University men’s basketball team as they head into the upcoming 2009-10 season – everybody, including the PSAC East coaches, thinks they’re a playoff team.
Mansfield, which has appeared in the PSAC playoffs twice in head coach Rich Miller’s four seasons at the helm --including last year -- has been picked to finish third in the PSAC East this season in the preseason coaches’ poll released as part of PSAC Basketball Media Day on Thursday.
Miller’s teams have always been known for their offensive prowess, ranking among the top five scoring teams in the PSAC each of his four seasons. But last year’s success – and probably this year’s as well – was a drastic improvement defensively that saw the Mountaineer give up the fewest points to opponents than anytime over the last 15 seasons.
With the return of four starters, including three who ranked among the top 30 scorers in the PSAC last season, it’s easy to understand the respect opponent coaches have for this year’s Mountaineers.
Perhaps earning the most respect is junior forward Yuseff Carr (New York,NY/NY East Transit Tech) who was one of six players named to the PSAC East Coaches Preseason All-Conference team. At 6-6, 286, Carr led the Mountaineers in scoring (15.4 ppg/12th in PSAC) and rebounding (7.7 rpg/9th in PSAC) as well as ranking among the conference’s top percentage shooters and shot blockers. When he’s on, Carr uses the almost unstoppable combination of size, quickness and strength to dominate the inside game.
But Carr isn’t the only Mountaineer to fear.
Senior guard Ryan Callahan (Contoocook,NY/Wagner College) was 15th in the PSAC in scoring last season averaging 14.9 points per game while also ranking among the conference’s top 3-point shooters. Fellow senior Chris Pender (Elkins Park/Cheltenhem) also ranked among the PSAC’s top scorers sporting a 12.1 points per game average while his 68 3-pointers were the second-most in the conference.
If that wasn’t enough firepower, throw in 2008-09 PSAC East Freshman of the Year Tony Fannick (Milton/Milton). The 6-5 forward averaged 10.0 points and 5.1 points per game while leading the conference in free throw shooting his rookie season while also dishing out 61 assist.
Still not impressed? How about returning senior Justin Simmons,who started 15 of 27 games last season at point guard, and junior guard Lavail Owens (Blue Bell/Wissahickon), who played in 26 games a year ago.
Miller is pretty well set with Carr, Callahan, Pender and Fannick in the starting lineup and Simmons and Owens are both seeing time at point guard. But if the Mountaineers hope to go deep into the playoffs, they are going to need a lot of support from the bench.
Luckily Millers are pretty deep there also.
6-8 senior Brandon Smith (Rochester,NY/Ben Franklin) is having the best preseason of his career and is expected to see plenty of playing time this year. Smith connected on a team-high 65% of his shots last season and can be a force inside.
Junior Donny Lyons (Brooklyn,NY/Blinn College) showed flashes of brilliance last season appearing in 26 games including four starts. Cat-quick, Lyons presents matchup problems for most opponents at guard. Junior Kevin Smith (Philadelphia/Friends Central) will provide extra depth at guard.
Miller has high expectations for an incoming class that includes three foreign players. Freshman guard Breland Roach (Harrisburg/Harrisburg) is good enough to push for a starting spot at the point or two guard after averaging 12 points per game for last season’s Mid Penn Conference Champions.
The Mountaineers could get a big boost off the bench from foreign players junior Derrison Anthony (Dominica,Kingsborough Community College), freshman Adam Toth (Budapest,Hungary/Panoia College) and sophomore Stellos Tzoutzis (Athens, Greece/Rend Lake College).
Anthony has the potential to add a big scoring punch and has the talent and skill to play inside or outside after averaging 16 points and 10 rebounds per game in junior college last year. Toth and Tzoutzis are skilled players who will add depth and versatility inside.
Cory Henneghan (Carlisle/Carlisle) and Domineek Owens (Philadelphia/Paul Robeson) are talented guards who both averaged more than 16 points per game as high school seniors.
Mansfield opens the season with an exhibition game at St. Bonaventure on Nov. 6 before hosting Bowie State in the regular season opener on November 15.