• Josh Banner

UAA Men's Preseason Preview

The start of the 2022-23 University Athletic Association season remains several months in the distance. Rosters linger unfinalized, fifth-year options stay unannounced and much of the upcoming season continues to be a mystery.


Still, we look forward to what the future holds.


Following the first full season since COVID shut everything down, the teams will enter the next chapter a bit more energized and a bit more prepared as each brings forth its own unique storyline.


Brandeis

The team’s top four scorers were all graduate students and seniors who might have put on a Judges jersey for a final time.


Regardless, Brandeis has talent – namely Toby Harris who averaged a respectable 7.5 points per game white shooting 38% from beyond the arc in his freshman year. Harris has the skill to develop and will likely see a larger role in his second season.


Overall, the Judges will have a much different look from last year, but they have enjoyed moderate success since Jean Bain took over as coach in 2018. The team simply doesn’t quit, so don’t be surprised to see them continuing to compete with the best.


Carnegie Mellon

The Tartans finished the 2021-22 season last in the conference. While this is not what any team would have wanted, there is hope for the future.


Having the only team last year without a senior or graduate student in their starting five, Carnegie Mellon will showcase an older group of guys with a whole lot of experience under their belt this season.


At the front of it all is forward R.J. Holmes, who possesses the power to single-handedly shape games, including when he tied the school record for points (43) in a win over La Roche. He also led the conference in blocks per game. This was all done in his first year on the team (his freshman year was canceled). His immediate impact helped him win the UAA Sophomore Rookie of the Year as well as earn second-team honors.


Last year might have been disappointing, but the future is bright for the Tartans.


Case Western Reserve

The Spartans come off their best season in school history. Over the past few decades, Case Western Reserve commonly resided near the bottom of the standings. The team never placed higher than fourth in the conference prior to last season.


However, the time eventually came where everything finally changed. The team finished second in the conference for the 2021-22 season and they made it all the way to the Sweet 16 for their first ever NCAA tournament appearance. The Spartans ended the year ranked 12th in the final top 25 – only their second time being nationally ranked in the program’s history.

The squad found success in their veteran starting line-up which included three graduate students.


“I think it was just the guys [were] willing,” coach Todd McGuinness said. “They didn’t want it to be their last game.”


As the graduate students leave, another will enter – Danny Frauenheim, a guard from Susquehanna University who led the Landmark Conference in assists per game as his team won the conference title.


Despite Frauenheim’s arrival, pressure will remain on forward Cole Frilling, who will likely be the only starter returning. The good news is Frilling’s talent. He finished second on his team in scoring while leading the team in blocks and rebounds per game.


He and his teammates employed an underdog mentality throughout their magical run. Although his team has now seen success, Frilling has not let go of the mind set that helped them get there. In his eyes, the chip remains on his – and the rest of his teammates’ – shoulder.


“I think everybody in our locker room still … feels like people don’t think the right way about [Case Western Reserve],” Frilling said. “So, I think that chip is 100% still here. Everybody I’ve talked to on our team this summer is working probably harder than they were last summer because now they know what we can do.”


Chicago

The Maroons have the luxury of bringing back their top scorer, Bryce Hopkins, for his senior year. He additionally led the team in blocks and steals and was second on the team in rebounds – all while dealing with a knee injury.


“He was hurt all year,” Chicago coach Mike McGrath said. “After every game and practice, his knees would just swell up like a balloon.”


The star forward will be a major point of focus as he continues to recover from his offseason surgery. Similarly, the team hopes to recover from their second straight overall losing season.


Emory

Over the past few years, no team has seen more success than the Eagles, who have won the conference title each of the last three seasons. Star guard Matthew Schner concluded the excellent season by being named the UAA Men’s Basketball Player of the Year and becoming the first Emory player in history to be named a div3hoops.com First-Team All-American.


Unfortunately for Emory, Schner took his talents to Lipscomb University for his final year.


Despite the loss of the conference’s top player, the Eagles have a strong young core, including a trio of sophomores who have already made their presence known in their first year: Albert Fallas, Cale Martens, and the team leader in blocks, Logan Shanahan.

Emory should be just fine.


New York U.

A new era of Violets basketball is about to begin. The past few years have not been kind to the team, often planting them dead last in the conference.


In comes Dave Klatsky, who spent a little over a decade serving as an assistant coach for a Colgate team that has won the Patriot League in three out of the past four seasons.

The new coach has a young crew headlined by sophomore Zay Freeney and junior Jacob Sussman. Although, the Violets will miss Bobby Hawkinson, who led the team in nearly every category last season.


Rochester (N.Y.)

The Yellowjackets had four consistent starters last year – all of them graduate students and seniors.


While Rochester will certainly miss players like Brian Amabilino Perez, who was the team’s top scorer, there are other students, including guard Ross Gang, who will come back as a graduate student for one final run.


“[Gang] gives us a lot of flexibility,” Rochester coach Luke Flockerzi said. “He’s just a huge strength of our team.”


Additionally, the Yellowjackets will get back Ryan Algier, a 6 foot 10 inch multi-All-American who sat out 2021-22 due to injury. Next year will be six years since he first played collegiately, and his veteran leadership should be useful.


“Ryan Algier is a difference maker, that’s for sure,” Flockerzi said.


Throw in junior guard Matt Wiele, who ranked top five in league blocks per game, and this team has enough pieces to put together a solid season.


Washington (Mo.)

It is tough to look at Washington without keeping in mind the impact of Justin Hardy.

Last season, the Bears forward ranked second on his team in points per game and first in rebounds per game – all while battling stage 4 stomach cancer.


The story made him a national hero as he won the Percy Wallace Most Courageous Award in addition to being honored by the Chicago Bulls and featured on ESPN’s College GameDay.

But, in late May, he passed away at the age of 22.


Hardy’s legacy lives on as an example of determination and perseverance in the midst of immense hardship.


As the team prepares for next season, Hardy’s story will not be forgotten.


Washington has been historically strong and likely will be again next season. Players like Hayden Doyle and Kevin Davet stand as two consistent starters who could make an even bigger jump as they prepare for next year. Although, the overarching message is that the Bears will be playing for more than a title – they will be playing for their former teammate.


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