The Shippensburg University men’s basketball team will be banking on its underclassmen to make an immediate impact if it wants to make an splash in the PSAC East during the 2012-2013 campaign.
The Raiders, picked to finish seventh in the PSAC East this year, is an extremely young group that boasts nine freshman, three sophomores, two juniors and zero seniors.
Concluding the 2011-12 season with a 10-18 overall record and a 7-15 mark in conference play, the Raiders lost 67 percent of its offensive production from a year ago.
The underclassmen have huge shoes to fill if they want to win this year. They must replace leading scorer and rebounder Will Royal, perimeter threats Jordan Stasyszyn and Craig Van Scyoc and the main facilitator of its offense, Dane Lauber.
Replacing the core of their team will be difficult for the Raiders as head coach Dave Springer will rely on Dylan Edgar to solidify the post and Reggie Charles and Joe Lococo step up in the backcourt.
Edgar, the team’s captain, has stepped up his leadership role throughout the preseason. The junior has dedicated this summer and preseason to filling the void left by the team’s leading scorers.
“I have been hitting the weight room a lot, and have focused on conditioning,” Edgar said. “I am getting comfortable having the offense run through me and I definitely have to be smarter on the court.”
With the offense revolving around Edgar, he will be called upon to finish on offense, which will allow Lococo and Charles a chance to work their magic in the backcourt.
The duo will be called upon immensely to set up open looks for Edgar and others this year. Charles had a successful year last season accounting for a team-high 121 assists but also a team-high in turnovers with 92. The turnover bug plagued SU last season as it averaged 16.3 turnovers last year — a negative 3.4 margin. Springer believes that Lococo and Charles will be able to trim that margin down this year.
“We have two guys [Lococo and Charles] that will handle the ball really well,” Springer said. “These guys are going to be handling the ball 90 percent of the time and that alone will help our turnover ratio.”
Lococo is a prime example how a freshman’s maturity can impact a team. If Lococo and the other underclassmen can step up for the Raiders then Springer sees this group as much better than seventh in the PSAC East. However, this season will hinge on how fast this group can grow together and how quickly they can develop.
“The freshman will decide how successful we are this season,” Springer said. “I think they can play with the upperclassmen in this league and depending on how quickly these guys can grow up will decide how successful we are when we get to the eastern part of our schedule.”