LEWISTON, Maine — The Bates men's basketball team opens its 2018–19 campaign on Saturday on the new floor in old Alumni Gym, where the Bobcats host Brandeis University for a non-conference contest. Head Coach Jon Furbush begins his 11th season at the helm of the program.
"We return our top eight scorers and we add some size and depth at each position with our first-years that came in," Furbush said on this week's Bates Bobcats podcast. "I'm really pleased with what I've seen so far and in no manner am I complacent."
Furbush and the Bobcats are hungry and excited to to build on the 2017-18 season where they went 12-12 and finished tied for seventh in the NESCAC. Due to the tiebreak scenario, Bates did not qualify for the NESCAC tournament last winter.
"For us, our goal since we started practice is to just get a 25th game — get in the top eight of the league. Where we are right now, I think is further than where we were at the end of the season last year. Offensively there's just more familiarity with what we're trying to do. Defensively, because it's got to be new and different there's excitement around it. I anticipate due to those two things alone we'll win a few NESCAC games."
Fellow juniors Nick Gilpin (Hampden, Maine), who averaged 6.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists and Kody Greenhalgh (Warwick, R.I.), who averaged 5.2 points and 1.8 rebounds, and sophomore James Mortimer (Sudbury, Mass.), provide two more perimeter pieces bound to play prominent roles.
Spellman, who was named first team all-state by the Maine Men's Basketball Coaches and Writers Association last year, ranked 11th in the NESCAC in scoring and 10th in scoring average in conference games (13.9). Furbush is looking for both Spellman and Coyne to build on their solid sophomore campaigns, and to continue to lead by example, but also take on more vocal roles as leaders on the team.
Also stepping up as leaders are the Bobcats' four returning senior captains: Eli Frater (Brooklyn, N.Y.), Brandon Galloway (Fort Washington, Md.), Nick Lynch (Westford, Mass.) and Max Hummel (Glastonbury, Conn.). Lynch led the Bobcats in rebounding with 8.1 boards per game last season and chipped in 8.5 points per game and 1.5 blocks per game.
The 6-2 Galloway played largely as Lynch's undersized backup at center last season, but with more size on the roster from the freshman class, Furbush will look to slide Galloway down to power or small forward. He describes Galloway as the most vocal leader on and off the court, and as a great defensive mind. Furbush sees him as one of those players that will be put on the opponent's best player.
Hummel scored 7.7 points per game shooting 45 percent from the field in 23 games last winter, and grabbed 2.8 rebounds per game. Frater added 3.0 points per game and 1.0 assists per game. "The four seniors who have done an incredible job of getting us to play at a high level every possession of practice so far," said Furbush.
Furbush welcomes four first-years to the team this year. "We got some good length with this group. The two guys who just by sheer height will step on the floor sooner are Kenny Aruwajoye (Owo, Nigeria) and Andrew Snoddy (Stow, Mass.), at 6-8 and 6-6 respectively. They bring a really high basketball IQ, they're athletic, and they can make plays. They're sponges in terms of what we're teaching them. Our offense is very complicated, and they've picked it up and feel comfortable with it. I think that they're going to make an impact in a very big way this season."
As for the two less-tall freshmen, 6-4 Joe Collins (Cutchogue, N.Y.) and 6-3 Cole Phaire (Washington, D.C.), Furbush says, "they can shoot the ball. At the college level, if you have a weapon, we want to use it. Those guys have done a good job in the early few days of practice."
Furbush is pleased with the depth of Bates' roster and the prospective of a number of different players coming in and making an impact this season. "There's a lot of guys that can do a lot of different things. That's probably one of the best problems to have as a coach, is depth. These guys are going to make me make some tough decisions in terms of our rotation this year."
The Bobcats will take on the Judges on Saturday at 3 p.m. to open the season, and then will play their first road game on Sunday, Nov. 14 at Maine Maritime at 3 p.m.