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Wesleyan Men's Basketball 2016-17 Season Preview

Photo by Steve McLaughlin
Photo by Steve McLaughlin

2016-17 SEASON OUTLOOK

After posting the best back-to-back winning seasons in program history – which included trips to the NESCAC Tournament, the NCAA Championships, a conference title, and a share of the Little Three crown – the Wesleyan University men's basketball team eyes another successful season when it opens the 2016-17 campaign Friday, Nov. 18 with the annual Herb Kenny Tournament sponsored by Radisson Hotel Cromwell. The four-team, two-day tournament features the Cardinals, the University of Southern Maine, Western New England University and Wheaton College. Wesleyan and Southern Maine are scheduled to tip-off Friday at 6 p.m., followed by WNEU and Wheaton at 8 p.m. The Consolation game will be played Saturday at 1 p.m., with the Championship game scheduled for 3 p.m.

Head Coach Joe Reilly enters his ninth season at the helm of the program, and has placed Wesleyan in the upper tier of the ultra-competitive NESCAC. In just his second year with the Cardinals, he helped guide Wesleyan to its first conference tournament appearance in five seasons, and just two years later, the Cardinals set a program record with 20 wins as they finished 20-6 overall and 7-3 in league play. In 2014-15, Wesleyan won its first NESCAC title in program history en route to its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance.

Reilly returns seven members from Wesleyan's NESCAC Championship team, as the 2016-17 Cardinals will be led by seniors Joseph Kuo, Harry Rafferty and PJ Reed. Despite the loss of an impressive Class of 2016, which featured a 1,000-point scorer in B.J. Davis, Wesleyan boasts a well-balanced roster with veteran leadership and talented underclassmen.

MEET THE TEAM

  • Kuo will be relied upon heavily this year as he looks to build on an impressive junior campaign, in which he led the team in rebounding and ranked second behind Davis in scoring. His 7.0 rebounds per game also ranked eighth in the NESCAC, and his 11.1 points per game finished 28th. Additionally, he led the team in blocks, averaging 1.0 per game, and his 26 total were sixth-highest in the conference.
  • Classmates and co-captains Rafferty and Reed figure to have bigger roles this season. Rafferty started 12 games a year ago and averaged 19.3 minutes in 25 contests, while Reed started 11 and averaged 14.7 minutes in 25 games. Rafferty's 31 three-pointers a year ago were third-highest on the team, as he hit 34.1% of the shots he took from behind-the-arc. He also ranked fifth on the team in scoring (7.6 ppg).
  • Nathan Krill '18 provided a spark for the Cardinals off the bench last year. A solid all-around player, Krill recorded 7.4 ppg and 5.5 rpg as a sophomore. He also shot 49.7% (71-143) from the floor, and averaged 0.9 steals and 0.5 blocks per game.
  • In his first season with the program, Kevin O'Brien '19 played a significant role in Wesleyan's success. He started nine games and played in all 25, while averaging 3.8 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.
  • Juniors Jordan Sears, JR Bascom and Chad Elliott, as well as sophomores Jordan Bonner, Salim Green, Andrew Gardiner and Kelly Hogan will look to make an impact in 2016-17.
  • Reilly also welcomes five freshman newcomers; Jack Alberding, Justin Bergerson, David Dixon, Kevin McDonald and Elijah Wilson. Alberding's father, Peter Alberding '89, holds the Wesleyan record for most points in a season (529 in 1988-89), and ranks 13th all-time in scoring for the Cardinals.

HEAD COACH JOE REILLY

"We are extremely excited about the upcoming season. Our practices have been very competitive, and we have the talent and character to compete at a high level once again this year."

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