The York College men's basketball team starts the 2011-12 season with high expectations after a 17-win campaign last season. Spartan head coach Jeff Gamber enters his 35th, and final year, at the helm of the Green and White excited about his Spartan squad.
"We have experienced and hard working players returning this year," says Gamber. "They have all improved and that will help us be a good team this season."
Gamber will count on All-Capital Athletic Conference forward Paul Kouvaris to lead the Green and White. Kouvaris had a fantastic junior year as he averaged 13.8 points and 6.6 rebounds per game as he shot 59.3% from the floor and 67.2% from the free throw line. He added 37 steals and 36 assists in his 25 games for the Spartans last season.
"Paul is a talented player that has continued to improve each year," states Gamber. "He has prepared himself for a great senior year."
Gamber returns three guards in the backcourt as juniors Julian Watson, Jeremy Skoloda, and Mitch Kemp and senior Mo Oursler are all back to the Spartan lineup. Watson finished last year averaging 10.3 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game as a sophomore. He shot 42.9% from the floor, 40.5% from three, and 63.1% from the stripe. Skoloda chipped in with 7.4 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per contest. Kemp has the ability to play inside and outside. He averaged 4.8 points and 1.3 rebounds per game while he 2.6-to-1 assist to turnover ratio. Kemp shot 38.3% from three and 72% from the free throw line. Oursler came on during last year as he broke into the rotation and averaged 7.4 points and 1.7 rebounds per game. Oursler shot 43% from three as he averaged 1.8 three-point field goals per game. He also shot 81% from the free throw line and 47.5% from the field.
"Julian, Jeremy and Mo are each good players that give us a solid group of guards. They each shoot it well and each bring different aspects to our offense and defense," says Gamber.
Joining Kouvaris in the frontcourt are seniors Andrew Pawlyk and Adam Earle, and juniors Todd Maciejewski and Max Resnick. Pawlyk returns after starting all 26 games for the Spartans last year. He averaged 4.0 points and 4.2 rebounds per game as he shot 42.7% from the floor. Maciejewski played in 26 games and averaged 4.1 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. He shot a team-best 63% from the floor for the year. Earle played in 13 games last year and worked very hard over the off-season to put himself in line to earn a spot in the rotation. Earle shot 88.9% from the free throw line while he averaged 2.1 points and 1.2 rebounds per game for 2010-11. Resnick saw limited action as a sophomore but has had a strong preseason as he has put himself in contention for a spot in the rotation.
"Our forwards are a strong group of hard-working players," states Gamber. "The give us experience and talent in the post."
Gamber has good depth on his bench. In the back court, sophomores Chad Styer, Brandon Enck, and Brian Stevko join junior Jordan Martz at guard. In the front court, sophomore Matt McNeely returns to provide the Green and White with depth.
"Our reserves have done a good job in practice," states Gamber. "The have each been working hard, preparing us to be a good team."
Gamber, who is retiring at the end of the season, has set up an extremely challenging slate for his squad. The Spartans open the season at Lebanon Valley College, a conference finalist last year, before hosting the loaded White Rose City Classic on November 18 and 19. The Spartans welcome Elizabethtown, Wisconsin-Stevens Point and Richard Stockton to Wolf Gymnasium for, what might be, the best tournament ever hosted at Charles Wolf Gymnasium.
"I am happy to have Wisconsin-Stevens Point come to York," says Gamber of the Spartans' 2005 NCAA Division III Final Four opponent. "They bring a rich tradition of Midwest basketball to York and I think the tournament will be a great showcase for Division III basketball. Elizabethtown and Richard Stockton each bring back a number of quality players so this should be an outstanding tournament."
York then faces Messiah on the road and Gettyburg at home on November 27 before jumping into conference play on November 30 at Wesley. The Spartans will host the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic on December 28 and 29. Penn State-Abington, Hartwick and Delaware Valley will join the Spartans in the tournament.
Gamber is excited to get the season started.
"This is a group of hard working kids and I like their determination," says Gamber. "We will work to put ourselves in a position to be a good team."