Depth may be key as young team looks to mature
By Devon Jeffreys
One year removed from three consecutive national tournament appearances, Flagler Basketball will look to build again this year.
Coming off a 14-14 season that saw them lose in the first round of the Florida Sun Conference tournament, the Saints did find some bright spots.
“Naturally when you come off three straight national tournament appearances, a 14-14 season is a disappointment somewhat,” coach Bo Clark said. “But when you look back on it we really did have a young team. We had some freshman that really played some key roles for us. We had freshman that we were counting on to make game winning shots. The nice thing is that those guys are sophomores now, they’ve got one year of experience and they know the system.”
The top freshman for the Saints last year was center Ben De La Cruz. After a stellar season, in which he averaged 10.1 points per game, 8.4 rebounds per game and blocked a team-high 31 shots, De La Cruz was named Florida Sun Conference co-Freshman of the Year.
“Ben just has to keep improving his rebounding,” Clark said. “We just want him to be able to score in the paint. We want him to be able to handle the ball and get tougher. He’s been a pleasure to coach.”
De La Cruz is one of three cornerstone pieces the Saints will rely on this year. All Conference forward Bryan Borstelmann returns for his junior season after averaging 13.6 ppg and seven rpg. Senior forward Sam Jozenville was also named to the All Conference team last season. Jozenville led the Saints in scoring with 14.9 ppg and 7.3 rpg and led all of NAIA Div. II with a .640 field goal percentage.
Beyond those cornerstone pieces, the Saints will have a lot of players fighting for time. Senior guard Lee Wise was named team captain and will compete with sophomore guard Jon Matthews for the point guard position. Wise averaged 8.2 ppg last season while Matthews had 10.6 ppg. Clark said he would wait to see how scrimmages go before he picks a starter.
At the two guard positions, the Saints have three players capable of starting. Junior Kyle Cregan averaged 7.8 ppg game last year in 14 starts at the position. Sophomore J.P. Clark averaged 4.8 ppg in limited time due to injury but Clark said he is finally healthy.
“It was frustrating to be coming off surgery and you’re not 100 percent,” J.P. Clark said. “I have my legs back now and I’m excited.”
The other competition at the guard comes from junior transfer Daniel Marsh. Marsh averaged 13.4 ppg last season at Webber International. The Saints also added two forwards, freshman Adam Dixon of Australia and junior transfer Tyler Dellinger who was at Lindsey Wilson College last year. Sophomore forwards Marquis Johnson and Paul Terminello will also compete for time.
“I think we’re going to have a lot of depth this year,” Bo Clark said. “Guys aren’t going to have to go 35 and 45 minutes. We will have depth and practices are ultra competitive which, as a coach, you want.”
The Saints also made a change on their coaching staff adding former Flagler player Jimmy Link as assistant coach. Link worked as an assistant in 2004-2005 and was a member of the first of the three-straight national tournament teams as a player.
The Saints open their first NCAA Div. II season at home against ex-Villanova National Championship Coach Rollie Massimino and Northwood University on Nov. 16. They then travel to Rollins College on Nov. 18. Rollins is ranked No. 8 in NCAA Div. II and No. 1 in the Sunshine State Conference.