The York College men’s basketball team enters the 2007-08 campaign with high expectations after a year that saw the Spartans win 16 games and compete for a Capital Athletic Conference championship. The green and white are two seasons removed from their run to the Final Four, however, the Spartans are primed to return to the top of the CAC and make the school’s fourth trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Spartan head coach Jeff Gamber welcomes back a very talented group of returners led by first-team NABC All-American Chad McGowan.
McGowan was incredible for the Spartans last year. In addition to earning the All-American honors, he was also named the CAC Player-of-the-Year. The 6’7” forward averaged 21.7 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. He shot 50.4% from the floor while he made 215 trips to the charity stripe where he shot just under 70%. He averaged 32 minutes per game. He is the undisputed leader of a talented Spartan squad.
“Chad has really blossomed as a leader for this team,” says Gamber. “He works extremely hard on his game and Chad will be even better this year.”
The Spartans are hardly a one-man team. In fact, it might be one of the deepest teams in the 31 years that Gamber has led the Spartans. Senior guard Nate Lankford, sophomore Nick Brady, junior Pat Kelley, sophomore Jeremy Keefer, and senior Chris Folland team with McGowan to form a very impressive returning core. Lankford finished last season averaging 10.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game. Lankford shot 47.1% from three while he led the team with 45 steals.
“Nate kept getting better and better each game last year,” says Gamber. “He is a very athletic guard that loves to play at a quick tempo. Nate fits in very well with the way we play.”
Brady had a very good freshman year as he earned the 2007 Capital Athletic Conference Rookie-of-the-Year award. Brady finished the campaign averaging 10.0 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. He converted 48.6% of his shots from the floor and 44.8% from three. Those are numbers that Gamber expects to improve in Brady’s sophomore year.
“Nick is an extremely hard worker,” says Gamber. “There were things that he has worked on that will make him a very good player for us.”
Kelley had a breakout sophomore year as he found a home in the starting lineup. Kelley averaged 9.0 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. He shot 45% from the floor and 43% from three.
“Pat has made himself into a key member of our rotation,” says Gamber. “He had a good sophomore year and he continues to get better.”
Keefer begins his sophomore year looking much different than he did a year ago. More confident and much stronger after a long summer of dedicated weight lifting, Keefer is ready to make an impact on the Spartan rotation. As a freshman, he averaged 2.4 points and 1.5 rebounds per game in 24 appearances, all off the bench.
“Jeremy’s improvement will enable him to play an important role in our rotation,” says Gamber. “His improved strength will earn him more playing time and we expect him to contribute as a sophomore.”
Folland enters his senior year as a key reserve in the frontcourt. Folland played in all 26 games last year as he averaged 2.1 points and 2.3 rebounds per game in just over 10 minutes per contest.
“Chris is a tough player that give us valuable depth in the post,” says Gamber. “He understands what we need him to do and he brings a toughness to the paint.”
Sophomore Bennett Foelber and junior Mike Riley round out the returners for Gamber. Foelber saw action in 16 games last year as he averaged 1.6 points per game. Foelber drained all 12 of his free throw attempts for the year and will battle for time in the backcourt for the green and white. Riley saw action in 10 games last year as he averaged 1.3 points per game.
In addition to the talented core of returners, Coach Gamber welcomes in one senior transfer in guard Levi Winters and five freshman that will dramatically impact the Spartan program, not only this year, but for seasons to come. Guard Matt Foley, guard Dylan Hoffman, forward Andrew Pawlyk, forward Dave Kavar, and guard Travis Gladfelter compose the class that has coach Gamber very excited about the present and future of his program.
Winters, a Northeastern High School alum, comes back to York after spending the first three years of his collegiate career at Philadelphia University. In 2006-07, Winters averaged 6.7 points and 3.1 rebounds in 30 games for the Rams. He averaged 35.5 minutes per game and shot 72% from the free throw line. Winters is a player that perfectly fits in with the way the Spartans like to play.
“Levi is a very talented player,” says Gamber. “He has worked hard to come in and fit in with the guys. His abilities fit in well with the way we play the game.”
Foley comes to York College from Gov. Thomas Johnson High School in Frederick, Md. He is a very good shooter that is also a good scorer. Foley possesses a strong understanding of the game and has an opportunity to work his way into the rotation.
Hoffman comes to the Spartans from Dallastown High School, also the alma mater of McGowan. Hoffman is a big athletic guard that handles the ball well. He is a strong passer with good court vision and the ability to find the open man. Hoffman has the potential to be a strong defender and will have the chance to work his way into the rotation.
Pawlyk is a 6’5” forward from Tulpehocken High School. He is a strong inside player and is also a good post defender that is an extremely hard worker. Pawlyk continues to work on refining his offensive game as he looks to earn a spot in the Spartan rotation.
Kavar comes to the green and white program from North Star High School in Boswell, Pa. He is a big left-handed player that is good offensively in the low block. Kavar has the ability to block shots and will need to work on getting stronger to earn court time.
Gladfelter comes to YCP from Warwick High School as a versatile player that can play inside or outside for the green and white. He is a good shot blocker with the potential to be a very good defensive player.
Gamber is very happy with his recruiting class.
“This recruiting class is one of the best that we have
ever had,” says Gamber. “These players all have a
chance to have very good college careers. We are happy to have them
as a part of our program.”
Gamber will face a very different Capital Athletic Conference. Gone are traditional conference front-runner Catholic University and an always challenging Goucher College. Replacing Catholic and Goucher are Villa Julie and Wesley College. The conference will feature a 16-game slate that should again prove to be a solid challenge for the green and white.
“Certainly, our conference will look different but it will
still be a battle every night,” says Gamber. “Our goal
is to be the best team in the conference both in the regular season
and in the tournament.”
The Spartan non-conference slate features three in-season tournaments including a pair of home events. The green and white other non-conference contests feature a home date with Gettysburg and road trips to Kings and Messiah.
“I am optimistic about this team,” says Gamber. “However, we have a very long way to go. We need to become a cohesive unit and certainly become much better defensively before we can accomplish the goals we have for the season.”
The Spartans open the campaign with an exhibition game on
November 5 against Division II Mansfield University. The regular
season kicks off on November 16 at the V Foundation Classic hosted
by Roanoke College.