|Men's Basketball Ready for 2012-13 Season||11/14/2012|
Two years ago, Mount Aloysius head coach Lance Loya had 11 new players on the team—10 of them freshman. Fast forward to 2012-13, and those “newcomers” have become mature, experienced veterans.
“Underclassmen are tough on the present, but great for the future,” Loya, now in his 10thseason, said. “The good thing about those younger players getting to play so much the past two years though is that they have acquired a ton of game experience.”
The Mounties return four starters from 2011-12, including two of their top three scorers in guards Jeff Stem and Demetrius Davis. Both players are consistent threats from behind the arc.
Stem averaged 15.5 ppg last season, which ranked him sixth in the entire conference in scoring average. He also set a Mount Aloysius single-game record when he hit nine consecutive three-pointers last January against Pitt-Greensburg.
Davis, a 5-10 senior and Altoona High graduate, averaged 13.8 ppg. He and Stem had a solid off-season, where they played together for Guy Landolfi and claimed the Mansion Park Division I Summer League Championship. Davis was additionally named MVP of the entire league.
“Stem and Davis will be our top guards. They are very similar in that they can both stroke it from three point range, but can also beat their defender off the dribble,”Loya said.
Davis enters the year just 349 points shy of topping the 1,000 point mark for his career, and becoming the 10th player in Mount Aloysius history to reach the coveted scoring plateau.
The other returning starters are juniors Davario Barksdale and Jake Wyatt, and sophomore Clint Wagner. Barksdale led the team in rebounding and steals, and was voted the Mounties Most Valuable Player at the conclusion of the season.
“Davario is an all-around player. He can play nearly any spot on the floor, and has guarded opponents from every position. His versatility is one of our team’s biggest assets,” Loya said.
Juniors Kyle Baughman, Dameon Turner and Aaron Patrick, and sophomore Tanner Thomas, a Forest Hills alum, are the team’s other key returnees.
Thomas averaged 4.0 ppg and 3.0 rebounds per game his freshman year. He appeared in 24 games for the Mounties, and cracked the starting lineup on three different occasions. Thomas also led the team in field goal percentage (.482), and was named to the A.M.C.C. Academic All-Conference Team.
While Mount Aloysius once again topped the always competitive A.M.C.C. in scoring and three-point field goals, one thing was very apparent at the conclusion of the 2011-12 campaign: The team lacked a consistent inside presence. Loya is hoping 6-11 freshman John LeGrande can be the answer to that problem.
LeGrande nearly averaged a triple-double (16.0 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 9.0 blocks per game) last season at Pittsburgh’s North Catholic High.
“LeGrande is big...literally and figuratively,” Loya said. “He is going to take up a lot of space in the middle, and could be a real force on the boards for us.”
A pair of local products round out the Mounties’ roster.
Hollidaysburg native Nathan Figart averaged 8.0 points and 7.1 rebounds his senior season. While Brandon Myers, a two-time First-Team All-Mountain League selection, poured in 14.8 points and grabbed 11.2 rebounds per game for Central High School. Both Figart and Myers were chosen to play in the 2012 Altoona Mirror Classic All Star game.
The Mounties will open their season this Friday at the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. However, for the first time since the tournament’s inception, it will not be held on Mount Aloysius’ campus.
As part of a three-year rotating agreement between local colleges Mount Aloysius, Juniata, and Penn State-Altoona, the tournament will be held at Juniata College this year. That means the Mounties will face rival Penn State-Altoona in the tournament’s opening round.