W&L Men's Basketball 2010-11 Season Preview


What is in store for the Washington and Lee men's basketball team in 2010-11? Ask eighth-year Head Coach Adam Hutchinson and you're liable to spend the next four days talking basketball. In short, he is not totally sure what to expect over the course of the 2010-11 season, but if the first two weeks of practice are any indication, the Generals' upward trend should continue.

Hutchinson has led the Generals to 59 wins over the past four seasons. That is as many wins as W&L earned in the previous 10 years combined. In racking up those wins, Hutchinson has come to lean on his upperclassmen and their leadership and accountability. That approach may change this winter as Hutchinson boasts a roster with just one senior and only three juniors.
The lone senior is point guard and captain Jason Cimino. Hutchinson hopes to see his floor general maintain a tradition that has been vital to W&L's recent success.
"'J' has been fortunate enough to play with Isaiah {Goodman}, and Ben {Goetsch} and see the way that things are supposed to be done," Hutchinson noted of Cimino's influences the previous two years. "We will see if he is up to the challenge of leading these guys and showing the underclassmen the right way to do things."
Cimino (5-8, 155) was up to the task on the court last season as he set career-highs in scoring average (7.0 ppg) and assists (96). Additionally, he ranked second in the conference in assist-turnover ratio (1.81), third in free-throw percentage (.847, 61-72) and fifth in assists per game (3.6).
Joining Cimino in the upperclassmen ranks are juniors Kyle Bond, Jon Guest and Will Smith and Hutchinson likes what he sees out of the trio.
"Those three guys are pretty unique," said Hutchinson. "They have also had the good fortune of playing with guys that did things the right way and they remind me a lot of the senior class from two years ago in that they just keep battling. Their effort level and conduct have been great and I see all three poised for breakthrough seasons as that hard work pays off."
Bond and Guest have seen a great deal of playing time over the past two seasons, while Smith has continued to work his way into the rotation and is positioned to earn even more time in his third season.
Guest (6-2, 200) made 16 starts among 23 appearances last year, averaging 4.6 points per game and picking up nearly a steal per game as well. An extremely athletic guard with good strength, Guest will be counted on to use his speed and quickness to lock down perimeter threats while using his strength to create matchup problems on the offensive end.
After missing much of his rookie campaign with a broken thumb, Bond (6-1, 185) came on to play in 21 games a season ago and averaged 3.0 points and 1.1 assists per game. One of W&L's top perimeter defenders, he will be counted on to defend the opposing team's point guard while efficiently running the offense.
Smith (6-5, 205) has seen action in 26 games over his first two seasons, though it has been his effort in practice and his willingness to challenge those ahead of him that have enabled him to get into the rotation. He possesses good range from the forward position and his continued improvement will be counted on this season.
The heart of this season's team, at least in terms of numbers, lies in the sophomore and first-year classes. Six sophomores dot the roster, including several that made big contributions in their rookie seasons.
"I was a little unsure of this group coming back," Hutchinson noted. "Playing time can be taken for granted at times and all these guys played, and played a lot last season. They have all come back better this season and that is really encouraging."
Forwards J.D. Ey (6-5, 195) and Jeremy Adkins (6-3, 190) garnered the most playing time out of the group a season ago.
A tremendous athlete that can play both inside and out, Ey earned 19 starts while playing in all 27 games. He averaged 5.9 points and 5.7 rebounds per game while also picking up 23 steals and 15 blocked shots. He ranked in the Top 15 in the conference in both overall rebounding and offensive rebounding.
To say that Adkins came on a little later in the season last year is a bit of an understatement. Adkins scored 14 points in his first-career start as W&L knocked off then-No. 9 Randolph-Macon in Ashland, Va., for the first time since 1959 and he went on to start the final 10 games of the season. On the year, Adkins averaged 6.9 points and 2.2 rebounds per game, including 10.7 points and 3.6 rebounds over the final 11 games of the season.
Not to be forgotten in the sophomore class are center Taylor Gilfillan (6-10, 235), forward Hans Harris (6-3, 175) and guards Kelton Buchanan (5-9, 165) and Mike Wilner (6-0, 175).
Gilfillan appeared in 25 games with eight starts in his debut season, averaging 1.6 points and 2.6 rebounds per game. Hutchinson noted his ability to create huge mismatches given his size, but he needs to develop some consistency finishing around be basket and continue to make opponents finish "…over him and not around him."
Harris appeared in 23 games with a pair of starts as a first-year and proved an active defender and solid shooter. He averaged 3.3 points and 1.4 rebounds and his improved consistency on both ends of the floor will be counted on this year. Buchanan appeared in 20 games and averaged just under 10 minutes of playing time per contest. He proved to be a solid perimeter shooter, knocking down 42.9 percent of his three-point attempts (6-14) and he possesses good strength and quickness.
Wilner will look to continue his improvement after appearing in six games his first year, scoring a total of seven points and handing out a pair of assists.
"More consistency is really what I am looking for out of those guys," Hutchinson said. "They are going to be expected to carry a lot for us this year."
Rounding out roster is a large group of freshman (8) that possess a great deal of potential and will be counted on to contribute early.
Some interesting pieces are present in the rookie class as for the second-straight year, Hutchinson was able to bring players in at each position on the floor. Highlighting the rookies are forwards Drew Kimberly (6-8, 200), John Rice (6-5, 220) and Larry Whitaker (6-4, 185), and guards Jackson Coursey (5-10, 180), Kevin Gill (6-0, 175) and Nate Reichel (5-10, 165).
"Larry has the potential to play a lot of positions," Hutchinson noted. "He has a lot of energy and is a smart player. John is a real cerebral player and a good passer and rebounder, and Drew has some real potential. He is a good finisher around the basket and has some really good skills."
"Kevin Gill is automatic, a great shooter. Nate is a smart player and a good shooter that has shown some flashes, while Jackson has probably been the most consistent player. He plays good 'D', is a solid shooter and is a solid ballhandler," Hutchinson said of some of his rookie guards.
Having so many new and unproven faces on the roster is a bit new for Hutchinson, but he likes what he has seen so far.
"We are young and unproven, that's for sure," he stated. "The pieces are there, but nothing is proven yet. I was a little worried about being able to maintain production at a high level, and not just the stats, but the effort and consistency as well. Guys have shown flashes thus far so I am a little less concerned about it now. The guys came into camp in better shape and with better mental toughness than a year ago."
Hutchinson knows that consistency on a night-in-night-out basis will be key as the ODAC once again looks to be shaping up as one of the most competitive conferences in all of Division III, or as Hutchinson likes to call it "monstrous". Three teams (Randolph-Macon, Eastern Mennonite and Virginia Wesleyan) are currently ranked in the Preseason Top 10 and teams like Hampden-Sydney, Guilford and Roanoke are not to be taken lightly. That being said, there is nothing that suggests Washington and Lee should not be in the mix come season's end.
W&L opens its season on Nov. 15, when it hosts Dickinson at 7:00 pm.