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Friday, October 12, 2007

MU men's hoops story for Saturday Press

By TONY GRAHAM
STAFF WRITER

WEST LONG BRANCH - The big men are the big question marks.

That appears to be the situation facing the Monmouth University men's basketball team as it begins practice Saturday morning for the 2007-2008 season.

""It's wide open,'' said Monmouth coach Dave Calloway of his front court to which 6-8 sophomore Rickie Crews, who played exactly 22 minutes all of last season, is the lone returning forward/center with ""experience.''

Monmouth is coming off a shockingly disappointing 2006-2007 when it became the first defending champion in Northeast Conference history to fail to qualify for the following NEC Tournament.

It has a back court nucleus to build around with last year's NEC Rookie of the Year, Jhamar Youngblood, and junior Whitney Coleman expected to offer fire power.

Freshman James Hett is penciled in at point guard, with junior Alex Nunner, sophomore Yaniv Simpson, and freshman R.J. Rutledge possible back court reserves.

Up front Crews, redshirt sophomore Shawn Barlow, redshirt freshmen Adam Dobriansky and Dutch Gaitley, and true freshmen George Barbour and Nick DelTufo will vie to be in the mix.

""Health will be an issue and under standing what we're trying to accomplish out there and picking up the defense,''said Calloway.

Crews, a potentially exciting talent, battled injuries as a rookie when he also missed time for "'violating team rules.''

He said from last season he's learned to "'try and be more responsible and try not to take any short cuts.

""Last year I tried to take short cuts and it bit me,'' he said. ""I made some mistakes.''

Gaitley said the big men are looking forward to their opportunities. ""That's a lot what we talk about in the locker room,'' he said. ""We're not just looking out for ourselves. We know if someone gets out there, they're going to help the team.

""We're into a team, not a me first mentality.''

Calloway said the Hawks will be adjusting their offensive philosophy to account for the inexperience in the post.

""In particular to put Jhamar and Whit (Coleman), and some of the other guards that can do it, in positions where they have individually more freedom than probably our guards have had in the past,'' said Calloway.

""Maybe since we had Rahsaan (Johnson). That may take a little pressure off the big guys.

"'In the past, especially in clutch times, our offense used to cater to getting the ball inside when we really needed a basket,'' Calloway said.

""I don't know if that will be the case for a while.''




Monmouth men 2007-2008

RETURNING STARTERS Whitney Coleman, G, 6-3, 190 Jr. (9.1 ppg., 3.1 rpg.); Jhamar
Youngblood, G, 6-1, 190, So. (12.3 ppg., 3.5 rpg.)
RETURNING RESERVES: Alex Nunner, G, 6-3, 185, Jr. (2.4 ppg., 1.8 rpg.); Rickie Crews, F/C, 6-7 So (2.0 ppg.); Shawn Barlow, C, 6-11, 250, So. (1.3 ppg.); Yaniv Simpson, G, 6-4, 210, So. (1.7 ppg.).
NEWCOMERS: George Barbour, F, 6-7, 190, Fr.; James Hett, G, 6-1, 175, Fr.; R.J. Rutledge, F/G, 6-4, 170, Fr.; Nick DelTufo, F/C, 6-8, 205, Fr.; Adam Dobriansky, C, 6-10, 225, RS freshman; Dutch Gaitley, C, 6-9, 225, RS freshman.
STARTERS LOST (3): Marques Alston, F, 6-3, 190 (11.5 ppg., 3.8 rpg.); Dejan Delic, F, 6-6, 215 (14.6 ppg., 3.5 rpg.); John Bunch, C, 7-2, 320 (7.1 ppg., 5.3 rpg., 95 BS)
OTHERS LOST: Mike Shipman, G, 6-1, 185 (5.4 ppg., 89 assists).

Note - Barbour (strained left knee) may not practice Saturday...

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