Every year brings a different team. Some
years, the team changes are slight. Some years, the changes are
In the case of the York College men’s basketball team, this year’s edition of the Spartans will look nothing like the version that was on the floor for the green and white in 2007-08.
Spartan head coach Jeff Gamber enters his 32nd season at the helm of the green and white. He will need to replace a talented class including two-time All-American Chad McGowan, All-CAC guard Levi Winters, starting guard Nate Lankford and reserve power forward Chris Folland. Over the last four years, the Spartans have won three regular season CAC championships, one tournament title, made two NCAA Tournament appearances, and one Final Four appearance. The Spartans were a stellar 87-26 during the last four campaigns.
McGowan finished his career as York’s second all-time leading scorer with 1,980 points and was named the CAC Player-of-the-Year twice in addition to earning the conference’s Rookie-of-the-Year in 2004-05.
“Chad was one of the best players I have ever coached,” states Gamber. “He contributed to our tremendous success over the last four years, but it is now time for a new challenge for the program.”
Gamber will focus on making this edition of the Spartans successful and he will turn to senior Pat Kelley, and juniors Jeremy Keefer and Nick Brady to lead a young but talented group of Spartans. Kelley, Keefer, and Brady will serve as the Spartan captains this year. Their leadership will be key in getting the green and white moving in the right direction.
“I told the team at the end of last year that they would all need to be better individually if we were going to be a competitive team this year,” states the Spartan head coach. “So far, they have responded and it appears they have come into this season as better players. However, we still have a long way to go to being the team we want to be.”
Kelley begins his senior year looking to bounce back from an injury plagued junior campaign. A two-year starter for the Spartans, Kelley had a solid sophomore year as he averaged 9.0 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Kelley started just nine games last year as his averaged dipped to 3.7 points and 2.5 rebounds. Those numbers should jump back up with a healthy season.
“Pat is a very talented player who has come into practice in great shape,” says Gamber. “We will count on him to score, rebound, and defend for us. He has worked very hard to be ready for this season.”
Keefer enters his junior year with high expectations. He is a very dedicated and hard-working player that continues to get better. Last season, Keefer averaged 7.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per contest in 26 games. He started 18 games and averaged 27 minutes per contest. He shot 47% from the floor and displayed a knack for taking care of the ball as he had 52 assists in addition to 15 blocked shots and 17 steals.
“Jeremy is a hard worker that continues to get better,” says Gamber. “We expect him to improve his rebounding and defense while he will also get the chance to be a bigger part of the offense. Jeremy is an unselfish passer that fits well into the offense.”
Brady begins his junior year coming off a solid second year in the green and white. Brady finished the season averaging 11.3 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. He shot 42% from the floor and 38% from three. He will be expected to continue the increase in offensive production but also improve defensively and pound the boards.
“Nick is a talented player,” says Gamber. “He is a good leader that has continued to improve. Nick is a good shooter that has worked to become a better basketball player.”
In addition to the three captains, Gamber welcomes back senior Mike Riley, junior Bennett Foelber, and sophomores Dylan Hoffman, Andrew Pawlyk, Dave Kavar, and Justin Seibert.
Riley is a good shooter that will battle for playing time. He is a hard-nosed kid that can drain the three while he also is not afraid to battle on the glass. Riley saw action in 16 games last year as he averaged 2.6 points and 1.1 rebounds per game.
Foelber is another good shooter that has come back from this summer a stronger player. He is a good athlete that has length that can bother opponents. His improvement will allow him to compete for playing time.
Hoffman came on strong at the end of last year and he enters this year as a big part of the Spartan plans. Hoffman slimmed down over the summer, allowing his outstanding athleticism shine through. He is a player that can do a number of positive things on the floor for York. Hoffman is a good shooter and passer while he will be asked to be a better defender and rebounder this year.
Pawlyk is another returning player that has dramatically changed his body. Long hours in the weight room have allowed Pawlyk to prepare himself for the rigors of play in the paint. He is a player that can rebound and defend in the post while he is a smooth midrange shooter. He has the potential to be a factor in the frontcourt rotation.
Kavar is another big body with potential. He is a strong rebounder that has the ability to hit shots from 15 to 20 feet. Kavar is a competitive player that provides the green and white with depth in the post.
Seibert is a player that battled injuries last year but has come back healthy and ready to go in 2008-09. Seibert is a tough, hard-nosed guard that has dedicated himself to working in the weight room to gain strength and prepare himself for the season. Seibert can shoot it from the perimeter while he can also play in the lane.
“This group of returners has worked hard to put themselves in position to be key contributors. I expect each of them to push for a spot in the rotation which will help make our team better each and every day in practice,” says Gamber.
Gamber welcomes in a five player recruiting class. Freshmen guards Julian Watson, Matt Moley, and A.J. York are joined by freshman forward Paul Kouvaris and sophomore forward Jesse Maghan to provide the Spartans with a class that will have a chance to impact the team.
Watson is an athletic and tough guard that has great ball skills and good quickness. He is a solid on-the-ball defender that can help spearhead the green and white defense from the point guard position.
Moley is an athletic guard that can do a number of quality things on the floor. His best attribute is his tenacious defensive ability. Moley is a solid offensive player that should have the ability to flourish in the Spartans’ system.
York brings good potential to the Spartan guard rotation. He has the ability to be a consistent perimeter shooter while he can also be a solid defender. York is working hard to make the adjustment to the collegiate game.
Maghan is a transfer from Eastern Mennonite University where he spent his freshman year. He is a versatile player that can fill a number of different roles for the green and white. He can handle the ball while he also can drain the midrange jump shot. Maghan runs the floor well and is also a good defender.
Kouvaris is a very athletic forward that uses his length to his advantage. He runs the floor well and is also a good defender and a strong rebounder. Kouvaris is an outstanding rebounder and comes from a very good high school program.
Gamber likes the versatility of this class.
“The new guys are going to have a chance to earn playing time right away,” says Gamber. “They are a talented group but they will need to work to make themselves into good college players.”
Gamber believes this year’s edition of the Spartans, while different, has the ingredients to achieve the success of the last few years.
“For us to be successful this year we are going to have to do things differently than we have the last few years,” says Gamber. “We are going to have to become an outstanding defensive team that can rebound. I believe we have the ability to do that, but we are a long way from that now.”
“This is a good group of kids that has shown the ability to be unselfish and really understand what we are trying to teach them. Our team will be more balanced on the offensive end than we have the last few years, but I believe that balance could be a strength as the season progresses. Everything we will do this year will start at the defensive end of the floor, and if we are successful at that, we will have a good year.”
The Spartan schedule features a pair of home tournaments including the season-opening White Rose City Classic on November 15 and 16. York opens their conference slate on Wednesday, December 3, at Hood College.