- Program On the Rise
The Tribe basketball program enjoyed a memorable and historic season in 2007-08. W&M turned in a magical run, advancing to the Colonial Athletic Association Championship Game for the first time in school history, while also posting the program's first winning season in a decade. Head coach Tony Shaver was named the CAA Coach of the Year and was a finalist for the CollegeInsider.com National Mid-Major Coach of the Year. All great accolades for a successful season and a program, "On the Rise."
But as the old cliché, that was last season. While the Tribe continues to strive toward putting a winning team on the floor, W&M has its sights set a little higher in both the coming season and years. The Tribe came within a game of the program's first CAA Championship and its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 2007-08, and quite simply, Shaver and his charges would like to add some championship hardware to the Green and Gold mantle. In just five seasons at the helm of the Tribe program, Shaver has done what many doubted in turning W&M into a winning program. Coupled with its 15 wins in 2006-07, the Tribe posted 15 or more wins in consecutive seasons for the first time in a quarter century.
While the Tribe graduated four seniors, including two starters, from Shaver's first recruiting class a season ago, the Green and Gold return an impressive nucleus of players. W&M will welcome back nine letterwinners and three starters from last season. The Tribe will have the services of two of its top three scorers and its top four rebounders from 2007-08. The Tribe's offensive system also produced a CAA record 257 3-point field goals a season ago.
David Schneider, Jr./Jr., 6-3, 187, Phoenix, Ariz.
Nils-Paul Skåra, So./So., 6-1, 202, Kolsås, Norway
Kendrix Brown, Fr./Fr., 6-3, 205, Norfolk, Va.
Sean McCurdy*, Sr./Jr., 6-1, 184, Jersey City, N.J.
John Treherne, Fr./Fr., 6-4, 180, Chesapeake, Va.
* sat out the 2007-08 season as a transfer from Arkansas
The guard position for the Tribe will contain a nice mix of experience and youth in 2008-09. W&M returns a trio of players who have spent at least a season in Williamsburg, including two-year starter David Schneider, to go along with a pair of exciting new local products.
Schneider was once again rock solid in his second season for the Tribe. There is no doubting the effort the 6-3 guard brings to the floor each and every day, but he was healthier as a sophomore and his statistics were reflective of that fact. He ranked second on the team in points per game at 10.9 points per affair, while also chipping his 4.5 rebounds and a team-best 3.8 assists per game. Schneider knocked down 64 3's on the season and finished shooting 34.8 percent from long range. Along with his high assist numbers, Schneider was adept at taking care of the basketball, ranking second in the CAA and 38th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio.
The Phoenix, Ariz., native garnered CAA All-Championship Team honors and narrowly missed out on earning All-CAA honors last season. Schneider was invaluable in the number of minutes he played night in and night out. He established a program-record for minutes played in a season with 1140. Given the Tribe's improved depth at the point guard position, Schneider will have the ability to move over to the shooting guard position as well, providing the Tribe with a lot of versatility.
The W&M staff and fans will also finally get the opportunity to see transfer Sean McCurdy hit the floor in the Green and Gold. McCurdy, who sat out last season as a transfer from Arkansas, instantly gives the Tribe experience and flexibility in the backcourt. During his two-year career with the Razorbacks, McCurdy appeared in 61 games, including six starts. He is the quickest player on the Tribe roster and demonstrated a knack for creating plays off the dribble as well as finding the open man while running the scout team in practice during his redshirt season. After spending most of the summer in Williamsburg working on his game and strength, McCurdy will provide the Tribe with a two-guard backcourt that could stack up with any in the conference in terms of versatility and grit.
Along with McCurdy and Schneider, hard-working walk-on Nils-Paul Skara returns to the fold. Despite his 6-1 height, Skara is one of the stronger players on the Tribe roster and the strongest guard. He spent last season learning the game in the United States after coming to the Tribe from Norway. Skara appeared in six games as a rookie for the Tribe and has the ability to play either guard slot. He brings a wealth of international experience after playing for the Norwegian Senior National Team as well as various youth national teams.
W&M added a pair of local products to the backcourt with the 2008 recruiting class in Kendrix Brown and John Treherne. Brown is a quick, athletic guard who gives W&M its deepest point guard crop under Shaver. He can also slide over to the two-guard spot if necessary given his ability to score the basketball. During his senior season at Norview High School in Norfolk, Va., Brown led the Eastern District in scoring at 17.5 points per game. He added more than seven assists per game and earned district player of the year honors as well as all-state accolades.
Treherne comes to W&M after spending last season at a prep school, Fork Union. The 6-4 guard is a prototypical gym rat. He possesses a solid all-around game and refused to be out-worked by anyone on the court. Treherne was named to the Virginia Independent Schools Division I All-State team as a senior in 2007 at Norfolk Academy. He averaged 21 points per game as a senior.
Danny Sumner, Jr./Jr., 6-7, 215, Fairfax, Va.
Vali Lazarescu, So./So., 6-5, 215, Brossard, Quebec
Quinn McDowell, Fr./Fr., 6-5, 195, Mason, Ohio
After a breakout season in 2007-08, junior Danny Sumner will likely hold down the starting position on the wing. Sumner is the Tribe's most athletic player and possesses a game that can be successful both on the perimeter as well as in the post.
Sumner's sophomore season got off to be bit of a slow start, but he worked his way into the starting lineup and was the Tribe's most lethal scorer over the final 28 games of the regular season. In fact, Sumner topped W&M in scoring over that stretch at 11.4 points per game. The 6-7, 215-pounder showed the rest of the CAA what W&M fans had seen for most of the season at the CAA Tournament in March. Sumner averaged 15.5 points and five rebounds per game at the championships on his way to earning All-Championship Team honors. He also shot 47.1 percent from 3-point range to go along with 50 percent from the floor.
Just has he did during the off-season after his rookie season, Sumner spent the summer of 2008 further refining his game as well as adding bulk to his wiry frame. He could see an increased number of minutes in 2008-09 after his stellar sophomore campaign. With his 2007-08 numbers projected over 40 minutes per game, Sumner topped the Tribe in scoring average at 16.7 points per game. With another year under his belt, the Fairfax, Va., native will also be relied on to provide assistance in the rebounding department, given the College's ability to play smaller lineups.
Sophomore Vali Lazarescu spent his rookie season learning the Tribe system and college basketball under an elder Tribe roster that included four seniors. He appeared in six games, but is one of the more athletic players on the Green and Gold roster. Laszarescu came to the College from a well-respected program in Canada and could figure into the Tribe plans in 2008-09.
A second-generation W&M athlete, freshman Quinn McDowell will have the opportunity to contribute as a rookie. The 6-5 freshman played for a nationally known program at Archbishop Moeller in Cincinnati and was a key cog for the Knights over a career. In fact, McDowell led Moeller to a state championship in 2007, but had the team's bid for back-to-back titles derailed thanks in part to a mid-season injury that cost him 10 games. He still earned all-state honors and prior to the injury was named to the National All-Tournament Team at the difficult and well-known Bojangles' Shootout. McDowell is a hard-nosed player, who possesses an excellence basketball IQ.
Peter Stein, Sr./Sr., 6-9, 240, Houston, Texas
Chris Darnell, Sr./Sr., 6-9, 230, Stafford, Va.
Steven Hess, Jr./Jr., 6-10, 235, Charlotte, N.C.
Marcus Kitts, So./So., 6-9, 225, Holly Springs, N.C.
Alex Smith, Sr./Jr., 6-5, 250, Greenville, S.C.
JohnMark Ludwick*, So./So., 6-7, 210, San Antonio, Texas
* must sit out the 2008-09 season as a transfer from Texas-San Antonio
While the guard and wing position maybe the most explosive for the Tribe in 2008-09, the rock-solid position will be the forward slots. W&M returns five players for the pair of positions, including two seniors and two juniors. Three of the five returnees have starting experience and in total the group has nearly 300 games of collegiate playing experience.
Headlining the forward group is the senior duo of Peter Stein and Chris Darnell. Both players appeared in all 33 games and add different aspects to the position. Stein is a two-year starter at the five spot and started 31 games a season ago, averaging nearly 25 minute per game. The Tribe's top post defender, Stein held his own with the top low-post players in the CAA a season ago. In league play, the 6-9 Texan averaged nearly nine points and five rebounds per game, including six double-digit performances. Stein was the College's most consistent performer throughout the season and adds the dimension of the 3-point shot from the five spot. To go along with being an excellent defender, he does the little things that do not appear in the stat line.
While Stein had a career night against Delaware in January with 23 points and eight rebounds, the true personification of his workman-like attitude and game can be found in his performance during the Tribe's CAA Tournament semifinal win over VCU. While teammates Laimis Kisielius and Danny Sumner were stealing headlines with their offensive exploits, Stein calming chipped in seven points on 3-of-5 shooting to go along with a game-high nine rebounds and three assists. But more important than those numbers, Stein helped in changing the game's momentum taking three charges, including one on the perimeter against CAA Player of the Year Eric Maynor in the waning minutes of the contest.
Darnell came up big for the Tribe during the 2007-08 season and will be looked upon more during his senior season. The 6-9, 230-pounder combines his forward size with the ability to shoot the ball from the perimeter as well as talent to pass the basketball for a bigman. With the graduation of Laimis Kisielius, Darnell will have as good a chance as any to slide into the starting lineup, given the fact that he started 13 games a season ago. Darnell finished the year with career-best averages of 4.4 points and 3.7 rebounds per game while remaining a fixture in the Tribe lineup either as a starter or as a key reserve.
Darnell showed exactly how explosive he could be in the Tribe's come-from-behind win over Northeastern at Kaplan Arena in January. The Green and Gold came out of the locker room down 12 points, but were able to erase the deficit thanks in large part to Darnell's 10 second-half points. The Stafford, Va., native put his inside-outside game on display in the contest, connecting on 5-of-8 from the field, including a perfect 1-of-1 from long range. He also demonstrated an arsenal of post and spin moves, including the game-winning 3-point play with 1:26 remaining in the contest.
Juniors Steven Hess and Alex Smith as well as sophomore Marcus Kitts have all seen significant minutes over the past two seasons. Smith returns to the fold after redshirting last season following an injury just six games into the season. Hess, who has appeared in 51 games over his W&M career, and Kitts provided invaluable depth off the bench a season ago.
Hess, who is the tallest player on the Tribe roster, is one of the more cerebral players on the W&M roster as well as a hard worker. He averaged two points and 2.1 rebounds per game in nearly 10 minutes per contest. A consistent contributor off the bench, Hess pulled down three or more rebounds off the bench in 14 contests, while scoring four or more points as a reserve on nine occasions. He tallied a career-best nine points and six rebounds in helping to engineer a 17-point second-half comeback at Georgia State in January.
Smith had the makings of a breakout season in 2007-08, but was slowed by a preseason injury and then eventually a season-ending injury just six games in the regular season. The 6-5, 250-pounder spent the summer of 2007 with the Panamanian National Team playing the Pan-American Games as well as the FIFA Americas Championship. He also led the Tribe in scoring during the exhibition portion of the schedule, showing his ability to not only bang inside, but also shoot the ball from long range. Smith spent the off-season rehabbing as well as working on his conditioning. Once he returns to action, he could have a definite impact at the forward position for the College.
Kitts adds even more depth to a loaded front line and will push the older players for both playing time and on the practice court. He spent the majority of his freshman season learning the Tribe's complex system, while also getting acclimated to the collegiate game. He came on late in the season, appearing in 10 of the Tribe's final 12 games off the bench. Kitts added muscle to his youthful frame and worked on further refining his low post game along with developing a more consistent jumper during the off-season. He had the unique opportunity during the month of July, traveling to Taipei, Taiwan to represent the United States as a member of Athletes in Action at the 2008 William Jones Cup. Kitts turned in a trio of double-digit scoring games at the event, while helping AIA to the silver medal.
The Tribe also welcomes the addition of JohnMark Ludwick to the fold. The 6-7, 210-pounder must sit out the 2008-09 season due to NCAA transfer rules after making the move from Texas-San Antonio during the off season. Ludwick averaged 6.7 points per game as a freshman at UTSA and ranked among the Southland Conference leaders in 3-point shooting. When he becomes eligible in 2009-10, Ludwick will compliment the Tribe system very well with his ability to both shoot and pass the basketball from the forward position.