#105 William & Mary Men's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

William & Mary Tribe
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #105
Conference Rank: #4 CAA
William & Mary put together a nice 20 win season in 2015-2016, but fell short of their ultimate goal. The CAA had some tough teams last year and the Tribe fell to one of them, Hofstra, in the conference tournament semifinals. With Omar Prewitt back for his senior season, Coach Tony Shaver will have his team right back in the mix for an NCAA Tournament spot. Prewitt led the team with 17.8 points per game and added 5.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists. There is not much the 6-7 wing cannot do. He is a very capable outside shooter and many opposing defenders have a terrible time trying to stop him from attacking the basket.
2015-16 Record: 20-11, 11-7
2015-16 Postseason: none
Coach: Tony Shaver
Coach Record: 175-225 at William & Mary, 533-346 overall
Who’s Out:
There are only two departures, but both are significant. Terry Tarpey was another one of those big wings who could knock down shots and attack the basket. In Tarpey’s case, he did more of the latter than the former. Tarpey was also the team’s best rebounder and easily led the squad with 7.8 per game. The other loss is not going to help in the rebounding department either. Sean Sheldon was often the lone forward on a team with a lot of big wings. He averaged 4.8 rebounds per game and added 8.5 points. The offense will need a player in the post that the offense can run through.
Who’s In:
Incoming freshmen Justin Pierce and Nathan Knight will add depth and options for Coach Shaver. Pierce is another one of those big guards and he comes to William & Mary after a very successful prep career in Illinois. He is a nice pickup for the program and he can certainly earn major minutes as a freshman, but he will have some others to beat out first. Knight will face stiff competition as well, but at 6-9 and 255 pounds, he is the biggest body on the roster.
Who to Watch:
This team is all about big guards and Prewitt is not the only good one. Daniel Dixon, a 6-6 senior, averaged 12.5 points per game last season and knocked down a team high 70 three-pointers. He is the guy who can stretch out the defense and it is tough for many CAA shooting guards to defend a 6-6 player who can shooter over them. Greg Malinowski figures to step into a starting role. Like Dixon, he takes a lot of three-pointers, but he can use his size to get to the basket too. After a couple seasons as the team’s sixth man, Malinowski is ready for an even bigger role. Connor Burchfield could be ready for a bigger role as well and perhaps that sixth man role that Malinowski will most likely leave. Burchfield is only 6-4 and not nearly as well-balanced as Prewitt, Dixon or Malinowski, but he can knock down three-pointers. He only took 71 shots from beyond the arc in 2015-2016, but he knocked down 56.3 percent of his attempts. David Cohn will again set up his teammates. The point guard dished out 4.6 assists per game and started turning into a dangerous scorer as last season progressed as well. At the least, he is a threat to shoot from long range and that will give him space to attack the basket.
Final Projection:
The Tribe boasts an amazing backcourt and wings, but replacing Sheldon in the paint is a big concern. William & Mary have not always had an interior scoring threat and Sheldon developed into one of those and the Tribe had a couple good seasons because of it. The hope is Jack Whitman will be able to take over the role. The 6-9 junior averaged 3.3 points and 2.7 rebounds backing up Sheldon in 2015-2016 and now it is his turn to be the force in the paint. Whitman is a better shot blocker than Sheldon was and that will help, but it remains to be seen if he can be as effective in the scoring department. Hunter Seacat will battle it out with Knight for minutes off of the bench for now, but both have potential if Whitman does not live up to his expectations. William & Mary at least has options in the frontcourt and that has not always been the case. If somebody can score eight or nine points per game, this is a Tribe team that will compete for a CAA title.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI / CIT / V16
Projected Starting Five:
David Cohn, Junior, Guard, 9.6 points per game
Daniel Dixon, Senior, Guard, 12.5 points per game
Omar Prewitt, Senior, Guard, 17.8 points per game
Greg Malinowski, Junior, Guard, 7.7 points per game
Jack Whitman, Junior, Forward, 3.3 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 76.9 (83rd in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 71.1 (157, 6)
Field-Goal Percentage: 48.0 (21, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.1 (99, 4)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.8 (99, 5)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.9 (66, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.9 (100, 1)
Rebound Margin: 2.2 (111, 4)
Assists Per Game: 16.2 (28, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 10.7 (25, 1)