YORK, PA – The York College men's basketball team enters the 2013-14 season as the dawn of a new era. Head coach Matt Hunter enters his second year at the helm of the program with a very new feel to his roster. Hunter's diligent recruiting efforts find 11 freshmen on the 16 player Spartan roster.
"We had five seniors who played significant minutes last year so I knew when I took the job that we were going to have to do a great job recruiting from day one," says Hunter. "We were able to get a number of very good players who will be the building blocks for the successful future of our program."
Hunter will turn to a trio of seniors to lead the youthful squad. Guard Mike Mathews (Newark, Del./Salesianum), guard B.J. Enck (Quarryville, Pa./Solanco), and forward Matt McNeely (Bel Air, Md./C. Milton Wright) gives Hunter a strong core of experienced players who can help guide the freshman class.
"The seniors have done a good job of leading and showing the freshman the ropes," says Hunter. "The seniors have worked hard and put themselves in position to be good leaders both on and off the floor."
Mathews is a dynamic scorer for the Spartans. He has the ability to knock down the perimeter jump shot while he can also slash and finish at the basket. He averaged 8.1 points and 4.2 rebounds per game last year. Mathews shot 44.1% from the floor, 32% from three and a very good 83.7% from the free throw line.
"Mike can be an explosive player for us," says Hunter. "He adds an element of athleticism and skill to our team."
Enck comes back for his senior year after having a very good second half of the year. He is a very scrappy and hard-nosed player who plays incredibly hard. He averaged 2.7 points and 2.4 rebounds per game. In his last nine games of the year, he averaged almost six points and six rebounds per game.
"B.J. is a tough kid," says Hunter. "He does a fantastic job of getting up and down the floor and attacking the basket. He is a very good defender who just harasses the guy he is guarding."
McNeely is another player who found himself improving dramatically as his junior year progressed. He finished the year averaging 4.6 points and 2.3 rebounds in 26 games and 16.2 minutes per game. He had two double figure scoring games including a career-high 16 points in the January 12 win over Marymount. The coaching staff has high expectations for the senior post.
"Matt really committed to being great," says Hunter. "He worked extremely hard in the off-season and it is very apparent from his play in the pre-season. He is a skilled post player who is very comfortable with his back to the basket. Matt is a good role model for our young post players."
Sophomores Connor Corbitt (Frederick, Md./Frederick) and Chris Conway (Luthersville, Md./Dulaney) are the Spartans' two other returners and will each have the chance to work their way into the York rotation.
"Connor is a smart player who can handle the point for us," says Hunter. "Chris is a player who does a lot of little things well and can help us from the wing."
Hunter's freshman class includes guards Tyler Alcid (Mt. Airy, Md./South Carroll), Brad Wesner (Mechanicsburg, Pa./Trinity), Joey Feinberg (New City, N.Y./Don Bosco Prep), Austin Hill (Hopewell, N.J./Hopewell Valley Central), and Ryan Beaver (Harrisburg, Pa./Central Dauphin) while the forwards are Max Bell (Westminster, Md./Francis Scott Key), Dalton Myers (Finksburg, Md./Westminster), Chad Barcikowski (Eldersburg, Md./Liberty), Blake Straitman (Westminster, Md./Francis Scott Key), Kyle McCloskey (Newtown, Pa./Council Rock North), and Evan Crosby (Honeoye Falls, N.Y./McQuaid Jesuit).
The class is deep and talented but they are still freshmen. That fact isn't lost on Hunter.
"There are going to be games where we look great. There will be games where we aren't very good. I hope there are more games where we are good but that remains to be seen," says Hunter. "What I do know about this group is they are happy to be at York, happy to be a part of our program, and they work very hard. I expect us to be a significantly better team as the season moves along."
Hunter will have to navigate a very strong Capital Athletic Conference. The league now boasts 10 squads including three teams who made the NCAA Tournament last winter. Reigning conference champion St. Mary's along with Wesley and Christopher Newport were all NCAA Tournament participants last season. St. Mary's advanced to the Elite 8 where before bowing out the tournament. St. Mary's is picked to win the conference as the preseason favorite while CNU is second and Wesley is tabbed as the third place team. The Spartans are tied for seventh in the preseason poll.
"Our league is one of the best in the country," says Hunter. "The strength of our league is impressive. We will be tested every night in our league and it should provide for great basketball."
Hunter is excited to get the games started.
"With a young team, you never really feel like you are ready to go but the atmosphere in the gym has been great. These guys are enthusiastic and just want to keep working to get better."
Hunter also knows the style the Spartans will play should be fun to watch.
"We want to play fast and it should be very entertaining to watch. We are going to play a lot of guys this year and I think if we can stay healthy, we can have a number of guys who really can play well in our system.
Hunter and the Spartans take the floor on Saturday, November 16 when they open the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic against Gallaudet University in the tournament's opening round. Jersey City and Stevens play in the other semifinal of the tournament on Saturday evening. The consolation game tips off at 1:00 pm Sunday afternoon followed by the championship game at 3:00 pm.