Returning four key players from the 2008-09 squad as well as a handful of other capable vets, the 2009-10 Wesleyan men's basketball squad stood poised and ready to embark upon an exciting season. The schedule features its usual 24-game slate, nine of them counting toward the NESCAC standings as well as additional games with Little Three rivals Amherst and Williams to give each club four games in total during Little Three play.
Wesleyan returns two players who were firmly entrenched among the NESCAC leaders last season. Top scorer Jason Mendell '12 (#34, photo insert top left) hit for 14.5 points a game in his rookie season, ranking seventh in the conference for scoring. His better than two three-pointers a game on average placed him fifth in the NESCAC while his solid 81.9 percent free-throw accuracy ranked sixth among the NESCAC regulars. In the rebounding department, Dave Maltz '11 (#22, photo insert lower right) ranked third overall with 7.9 boards a game. A solid player at both ends of the floor, he was second in the conference for defensive rebounds and fourth on the offensive glass.
Back after missing the final 13 games due to a leg injury is Jeremy Kaminer '10 (#11, middle photo). Kaminer gave the Cardinal faithful a big treat just before being sidelined when he sank a 30-footer at the buzzer to beat then fifth-ranked Amherst in early January, 2009. He averaged 12.7 points, four assists and three rebounds a game over 11 games before the injury, from which he has fully recovered, took its toll. Also back as a grad student in 2009-10 is Kevin Scura '09 (#23, photo insert upper right), who started almost every game a year ago and averaged nearly eight points a contest.
The Cardinals welcomed a bumper-crop of newcomers into camp when formal practice began November 1. Much is expected from the youngsters who should provide the team with height, depth and talent to support the veterans.
The season got underway Friday, Nov. 20 as Wesleyan hosted the Inn at Middletown Tip-Off Tournament, facing Johnson St. in the opening round. Southern Maine and Becker did battle in the other first-round matchup. Wesleyan will compete in two other regular-season tournaments in 2009-10, one at Norwich University in early December and another at Springfield College shortly after the New Year.
Wesleyan pulled away from a 47-47 tie with Johnson St. at halftime, using a 16-2 run in the second half to open up a 63-55 lead. Extending the margin to as much as 19 points (91-72) in the second half, Wesleyan survived a furious rally that cut the gap to as few as four points (94-90) before the Cardinals expanded the difference to the final margin of 10, 104-94. It was the first time since Jan. 17, 2004 that the Cardinals surpassed the century mark in scoring. Mendell was the hot hand with a team-leading 26 points, a career high as he netted 23 twice during his rookie year in 2008-09. Coming through with 22 points in the first game of his career was Shasha Brown '13 (#5, photo insert lower left) while Derick Beresford '13 chipped in with 17. Maltz had a game-high 13 rebounds as Wesleyan enjoyed a 42-28 advantage on the boards.
Wesleyan will face Becker, a 74-67 victor over Southern Maine, in the Inn at Middletown Championship game Sat., Nov. 21.
(Photos courtesy of SteveMcLaughlinPhotography.com)