After winning 19 games a year ago, the expectations are high for the upcoming 2015-2016 season. The Susquehanna men's basketball team returns practically its entire roster from a year ago and added a few key players into the mix. Head coach Frank Marcinek is feeling very optimistic about the season and with All-Landmark players Josh Miller, Brandon Hedley and Steven Weidlich returning, most coaches would feel similar.
Marcinek enters his 27th year at the helm of the program with more wins than any other coach in team history. In addition to assistants Chad Bailey, Mark Prusch '06 and Sam Moore, Marcinek will be aided by Aaron Ettinger, who returns for his second stint as an assistant under Marcinek as he previously coached at SU from 2011-12. As well as assisting on the varsity squad, Ettinger will be the head junior varsity coach.
Hedley was a First-Team All-Landmark selection last year and has received conference honors for the past three seasons, including a Rookie of the Year nod in 2012-13. He made a conference-high 88 three pointers last season and set a Landmark, and Susquehanna, game record for made three pointers with 10 in the home contest against Elizabethtown. Hedley averaged 14.9 points per game last year.
He is "focused on winning a conference championship in his senior year," Marcinek stated, "and for us to reach our goals, Brandon needs to excel in all areas."
Miller "does a little bit of everything and is a really good defender," Marcinek said. Miller was a Second-Team All-Landmark pick one year ago and was first on the team, and third in the conference, in three-point percentage with a 45.1 percent clip. In conference games he ranked first in defensive rebounds.
Weidlich has been a starter since his rookie season. According to Marcinek, Weidlich is a complete player, works really hard on and off the court and he is also a good three-point shooter.
"A year ago the defining characteristic of this basketball team was its ability to shoot the three," Marcinek said. "This year, we need to change that a little. If we are to reach the levels of success that we would like, one thing we need to do better is score the ball inside and I think that we are in a position to do that."
A year ago, Ryan Traub and Danny Weiss split time in the center spot, and will continue to do so this season. Traub will be able to spend some time in the four slot, as well.
"Both worked exceptionally hard in the off season, both have really good back-to-the-basket games and both have the ability to step out and shoot the ball on the perimeter," Marcinek stated.
Another key returner is Jason Dietrich, a strong player and can play the two, three or four spots. He can play inside and out and is a very good shooter.
Reichard went to Eastern York High School and transferred from Division II Lock Haven. He will play primarily as a point guard but can play a two guard. He will add depth to the backcourt with his "quickness, ball handling, shooting and understanding of the game," Marcinek said.
Hoagland comes to SU from Cedar Cliff High School.
"He has done very well for us at this point in the preseason and through two scrimmages," Marcinek said. "He is a true point guard and is out there to run the team and get the ball to the right people."
In the Mix
Senior Zach Newby can also play the center spot; he is an athletic player with the ability to run the floor and block shots and gather rebounds. Jeff Dzierzawiec is a four man who "brings toughness and scrappiness to what we do," Marcinek said. "He can shoot the three as well as the mid-range jump shot."
The Crusaders open the season at Misericordia University on Nov. 17. On Nov. 20 and 21, SU will host its annual Pepsi Tip-Off Tournament with games against Penn St.-Wilkes Barre and an opponent to be determined.
The non-conference schedule also includes two additional tournament appearances, one at King's College on Dec. 11-12 and one at Albright College on Dec. 29-30 where SU will be tested by NCAA participants Trinity (Conn.) -- who has been nationally ranked No. 12 in the preseason -- and Johns Hopkins.
SU begins Landmark play on Dec. 2 at home against Catholic University which finished first in the Conference last season. Other key conference tilts include a road game against Scranton on Jan. 7 which will be a rematch of the 2015 Landmark semifinal and a Jan. 16 road game at Drew, which also reached last year's conference semifinals.
The 2016 Landmark Conference playoffs begin on Feb. 24 and conclude with the championship on Feb. 27.