STANDISH, ME – The Saint Joseph's College men's basketball team will feature a different look this winter but the program's blueprint for success remains the same under the watch of 10th-year Head Coach Rob Sanicola '99.
Gone are graduated seniors Zach O'Brien and Chris Petzy, a duo that combined to score 31 points per game last year and tallied 2,820 points, 627 rebounds and 483 assists as major contributing players over the last four years. The pair of 2012 All-Conference honorees, as well as Tom Ray and Spenser Adams – a pair of four-year players - will certainly be missed as the team moves forward.
But move forward the Monks will, and if prognostication by conference coaches is any indication, the team should fare well this winter as St. Joe's was forecasted to finish second in the 2012-13 GNAC Preseason Poll, which was released last week. The vote is certainly a show of respect for Saint Joseph's, the most successful GNAC program over the last five seasons with a 92-45 (.672) overall record and a 65-25 (.722) mark versus conference opponents over the last half-decade.
If St. Joe's, 18-9 overall and 13-5 in GNAC games last year, is to make another deep run in the conference tournament, the Monks will ask returning players to step up their game and several newcomers to contribute immediately.
Heading the list of returners is senior point guard Julio Vazquez (Waterbury, Conn.), an intelligent distributor of the basketball who can contribute in a variety of ways on both ends of the court. Junior sharpshooter Matthew Medeiros (Westport, Mass.) could emerge as the Monks' go-to scorer and looks to be ready for a breakout season. These two players will share the captaincy duties this year.
Eight newcomers dot the SJC roster and several of the youngsters will play big roles right out of the gate. First-years Jerome Diggs (Centreville, Va.), Craig Luschenat (Boston, Mass.) and Nolan Allen (Windham, Maine) have impressed during the preseason and forward Krubiel Workie (Denver, Colo.), a 6'6 junior transfer out of Kansas Wesleyan, figures to be a great addition to the program.
Vazquez, the Monks' lone senior, will serve as the starting point guard for the third straight season and looks to cap his career with his best season to date. As a junior, the fleet-afoot guard averaged 2.2 points, 3.4 assists, 4.1 rebounds and a team-high 1.7 steals while starting 25 of the squad's 27 games.
Medeiros, the Monks' top returning scorer, seems poised to improve on his impressive sophomore numbers in his third collegiate campaign. An excellent shooter, the junior led the 2012 squad in three-point efficiency (40%) , was second in both threes made (62) and attempted (155) as well as free-throw percentage (85.7%, 66-77), and third in scoring (11.5 PPG) and field goals made (91) a year ago.
Simonds improved greatly as his freshman season progressed and his playing time followed the same trend. A heady player, good passer and excellent shooter, Simonds is in line to log major minutes as a sophomore. Diggs is a rare talent with tremendous athleticism and a strong basketball acumen and Luschenat proved to be one of the Monks' best shooters during preseason. Both first-year guards look to contribute immediately.
Sophomore guards Jordan Tripp (Maspeth, N.Y.) and Matt Sullivan (West Babylon, N.Y.) also return and figure to provide valuable minutes coming off the bench. Freshmen Davis Tucker (High Point, N.C.), Corey McNamara (West Newbury, Mass.), Asad Dahia (Portland, Maine) and Jake Downing (Simsbury, Conn.) will see their contributions grow as they learn the intricacies of the Monks' offensive and defensive systems.
Jobin, one of the most athletic forwards in the GNAC, leads a potentially-potent group of big men and appears to be ready for the limelight as one of the Monks' top offensive options this winter. A 6'6 post player, Jobin played in 23 games with eight starts during his sophomore campaign when he tallied 9.5 points and 4.2 caroms per contest while shooting a team-high 51.8% (85-164) from the field.
Philbrook appeared in all 27 games a year ago and averaged 2.5 points and 2.9 caroms as a second-year forward and Blodgett tallied 2.2 points per contest while appearing in 22 tilts as a freshman. Both players possess the skillset to be steady contributors and have earned the chance to prove their potential this winter.
Sophomore forward Danny Brooks (Boston, Mass.), one of the team's top recruits a year ago, missed his entire freshman season with an injury. Fully healed and hungry to log his first NCAA action, Brooks will be an interesting player to follow during the 2012-13 campaign.
Workie, a lengthy post player who can score from anywhere, looks to be a force on both ends of the court in his first season on "The Lake" and Allen, an excellent mid and long-range shooter, seems primed to enjoy a solid career at Saint Joseph's. Both newcomers are likely to play important roles for the 2012-13 team.
Saint Joseph's will open the 2012-13 campaign with a non-conference contest versus Bowdoin College at the Alfond Center on Tuesday, November 20th at 7:30 PM.