It's another year, another loaded roster and another chance for an NCAA Division III tournament run for the Medaille women's basketball team.
The Mavericks finished 23-5 overall, 17-1 in Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference play, clinching their second consecutive conference championship. Their second straight automatic bid to the NCAA tourney ended with a first-round loss to Cortland.
Amanda Baker enters her senior year as the three-time reigning conference player of the year. She averaged 16.1 points and 8.8 rebounds as a junior. Also back is senior Marisa Clark, who averaged 11.4 points and 6.1 rebounds with 171 assists and 132 steals.
The men's team showed signs of improvement in Mike MacDonald's first year. The Mavs, who had won only four games the previous two seasons, went 11-14 overall and 7-11 in the AMCC, missing the playoffs by one game. Senior James McNeil led the team with 18.3 points and 4.5 rebounds a game.
The men's team, 12-13 under coach Fajri Ansari last year, will feature 10 new faces. Senior Dion Mozelle leads the Bengals' forwards as the team's lone fourth-year starter. He enters his senior season with 1,000 points in reach. Sophomore center Antonio Samedi is one of the SUNYAC's top shot blockers. Guard Anderson White, a junior college transfer, is a good mid-range shooter who uses his athleticism to play solid defense.
The women's team, 7-18 last year, continues to rebuild under second-year head coach Sue Roarke. Senior captains Toya Parks and Lindsay Smith lead the Bengals in the backcourt. Junior Shareese Hamers is the lone returnee in the post.
The Hawks' men's team returns nine starters from last year's squad which advanced to the semifinals of the AMCC Tournament while receiving the college's first ever ECAC postseason bid and finished 14-14 overall. Senior guard Dallas Reinard is the reigning AMCC Player of the Year after ranking 16th nationally in scoring (22.4 ppg). He scored 46 points against Mount Aloysius last year, the 15th best performance nationally at the time it was turned in. Reinard, who set the school record for points in a season last season with 626, is on pace to become Hilbert's all-time leading scorer. Also returning are seniors Mike Reyes (Bishop Timon) and Noah McHale (Archbishop Walsh). Reyes is Hilbert's all-time leader in assists (410) while McHale averaged 7.3 points and 4.9 rebounds.
The women hope to improve on last year's 2-22 overall record. Returners include senior forward Amanda McHale (Archbishop Walsh), who led the Hawks with 12.5 ppg and 10.6 rpg. She led the AMCC in blocked shots with 3.2 a game, which ranked eighth nationally. Senior guard Kaitlyn Miller (Depew) averaged 9.3 points and is Hilbert's career leader in assists (197).
Junior forward Tom Kowalski (JFK) and his team-leading 17 points per game return along with frontcourt running mate Marvin Butler -- the Spartans' only returning starters from last year's 3-22 squad. New players include three junior college transfers -- Derrick Ware and Matt Baker from ECC and Charles Walker from Niagara County Community College.
The women return seven players from a team that went 15-10 last year. Among them is senior guard Rachel Placito, who averaged 12.9 points and 4.8 assists while shooting 37.8 percent from three-point range. Also back are junior center Christine Halter (11.6 ppg, 7.2 rpb, 1.8 blocks per game) and junior guard Rachel Pagano-Fuller (9.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 3.0 assists per game, 2.6 steals per game).
The women's team has been to the NAIA Tournament four straight years with a record of 100-30 during that span. But maintaining that level will be difficult after it lost the most successful senior class in Daemen history. This will be the youngest Wildcats roster in 14 years with no seniors and five freshmen. The front line should be a strength with juniors Sarah Bogardus (Fredonia) and Mary Kate Wilson (Mount Mercy) returning after all-conference seasons. Bogardus was an honorable-mention All-AMC North selection last year after averaging 11.6 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. Wilson was a third-team All-AMC North selection last year after averaging 11.1 points and 6.8 rebounds.
The men went 12-17 last year and placed fourth in the America Mideast Conference North Division. The Wildcats are led by senior Dewan Stroud (Seneca), who was a first-team All-AMC North and honorable-mention All-American selection last year, averaging 18.7 points and 4.3 rebounds.
The men's team, ranked 18th in the preseason NJCAA poll, returns three starters from last year's squad which went 18-11 and lost in the first round of the Region III tournament. Leading the trio of returning starters is guard Marques Rainey (Bennett), who averaged 8.3 points and 5.2 rebounds. Also back is 6-9 forward Serign Bah, who averaged 4.7 points and 4.0 rebounds, and Terrell Burgess, who averaged 3.6 points and 3.6 rebounds.
The women return just two players from last year's 7-23 team: Kayla Mahiques (10.3 ppg) and Kamalah Poles (4.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg).