Head Coach: King Rice, 2nd year (12-20)
Last Season: 12-20 (10-8 in NEC), lost first round of NEC tournament to Robert Morris, 87-68
NEC Preseason Coach’s Poll: 7th out of 12 teams
State of the Program: Getting ready to compete
Key Player Lost: Mike Myers Keitt (8.4 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 1.3 APG), Phil Wait (4.8 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 0.5 BPG), Will Campbell (6.0 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 0.8 APG), Austin Tillotson (6.1 ppg, 2.0 apg, 1.1 spg)
Incoming Players: Jalen Palm (G), Christian White (G), Tyrone O’Garro (F), Colin Stewart (G)
Previous Posts: King Rice Believes Team Approach Is Best For Monmouth, Why Monmouth Might Not Improve In King Rice’s Second Season, King Rice Continues to Rebuild Monmouth With 2012 Class
Projected Starting Lineup:
PG: Jesse Steele (12.6 ppg, 4.2 apg, 1.2 spg, 1.7 A/TO)
G: Andrew Nicholas (8.8 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 1.2 spg)
G: Dion Nesmith (8.8 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.1 spg, 38.4% 3PT)
F: Ed Waite (7.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.3 spg)
F: Marcus Ware (6.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 1.0 spg)
Key Reserves: Khalil Brown (F), Gary Cox (F), Stephen Spinella (G), Tyrone O’Garro (F)
- How far does a balance attack take a team? — As discussed at length in two previous pieces this offseason, Monmouth plays a very egalitarian style of basketball. The Hawks will rely on having a different guy that can beat you every night. In a way this almost seems harder to pull off. You need not one, but three or four guys that can fill up the basket. In Jesse Steele, Dion Nesmith, Andrew Nicholas and a healthy Marcus Ware, that’s exactly what Monmouth thinks they have. The fact is though the offense probably won’t be very good, it’s the defense where Monmouth will have to win games.
- Does size matter in this system? — When King Rice showed up, seven-footer Phil Wait’s role decreased significantly. Players that can get up and down the court and guard multiple positions are really important. The third tallest player on Monmouth’s roster this season, 6’7″ freshman Colin Stewart, is listed as a guard. How the Hawks scheme to take away big men like Julian Boyd and Ike Azotam will be important during league play.
- Is this team ready to move up into the NEC’s upper echelon? — The big question is if the Hawks are ready to move into the conference’s elite in King Rice’s second season. Most people are skeptical. Monmouth has a long way to go to compete with the best in the conference. How the Hawks do starting January 3 at Wagner is one of the biggest things to watch in the NEC this season.
Lineup Analysis: As much as Rice talks about balance, this team will certainly rely on two key players in seniors Jesse Steele and Marcus Ware. Steele was the only double-digit scorer on the roster in 2011-12. He could probably score more if he needed to. What Monmouth really needs though is for him to get everyone else involved and improve on his 4.8 assists per game from a season ago. Up front it’s going to have to be the Ware show. At 6’8″ he’s the big, experienced body that Rice can throw up against teams. It’s possible that Khalil Brown, a 6’9″ forward will also be a big help in the paint. He had to sit out last season, but Rice has raved about his potential. Gary Cox, a 6’5″ forward also sat last season with an injury. It’s also worth noting that this is an experienced team. Steele, Ware, Nesmith, Waite, Spinella and Cox give this team a bunch of veterans to rely on.
“We’re a lot more aggressive. Last year I didn’t know the kids when we started out so we put in an up-tempo style of play. Now we know how to do it. We know our kids, so we’re just way more aggressive than Monmouth has been in a long time. And after going through the league a year and seeing we’ve got a lot of great guards and a lot of great coaches that control the games we’re going to try and mix it up even more than we did last year just so we don’t have a team that has a dominant player dominate the game against us. We’re going to try to take the ball out of the best guy’s hands.”
- Rice on how year two is different
Ryan — King Rice’s bunch is perhaps the most volitile team in the conference and could realistically finish anywhere from 4th to 9th. I’m projecting somewhere in the middle, as this team will probably take a small step back before becoming a serious NEC contender down the road. One thing is for certain though, Monmouth will be a factor almost every game they play.
John — I’ve made some bold predictions when it comes to Monmouth this season, but I think eventually they’re going to settle into the fifth or sixth seed in the NEC tournament. King Rice certainly has this program on the right track and they’ll be a tough out for any team they play. The tricky thing is going to be bridging the gap in 2013-14 as Rice’s recruits will still be growing up and the seniors will have departed.
Previous NEC Team Capsules:
October 24: St. Francis (PA) Red Flash
October 25: Fairleigh Dickinson Knights
October 26: Bryant Bulldogs
October 29: Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers
October 30: Central Connecticut Blue Devils