CHESTERTOWN, Md.- The Washington College men's basketball team is working hard following a season of rebuilding. The Shoremen are looking for an improved showing during the 2013-14 season.
The team got off to an 0-12 start last season before surprising a previously unbeaten and nationally-ranked Franklin & Marshall for their first win of the year. The Shoremen won four of their final five home games of the season after that win. In addition, four of the Shoremen's final five losses of the year came by two points or less in overtime. The Shoremen finished the season as a much better team than their 4-21 record indicated.
Although the team struggled early on in the season, they led the Centennial Conference in turnover margin for the fifth time in the last six years with 19.2 opponent turnovers per contest, 3.4 more per game than any other team in the conference. The Shoremen also averaged 9.0 steals per game, leading the conference.
The Shoremen kept the up-tempo, high-pressure attacks with guards Stephen Poarch (Middletown, Del./Sanford School) and Kevin Cunningham (Mt. Laurel, N.J./Lenape,) returned for their junior and senior years on the wing, respectively. Poarch earned All-Centennial Conference second-team during his sophomore and Most Valuable Player honors. He averaged 17.3 points per game, tops on the team and second in the conference. He led the conference with 4.0 assists per game and was second in the conference with 2.0 steals per game. Poarch finished second among the Shoremen by average 4.6 rebounds per game. Cunningham is the second-leading returning scorer for the Shoremen after averaging 4.6 rebounds per game. He averaged 1.3 steals per game last season, second to Poarch among returning Shoremen.
Junior Sean Brooks (North Wales, Pa./North Penn) took over as the team's starting point guard midway through last season and provided a steady hand, leading the team in assist-to-turnover ratio. Brooks was among the team's top three-point shooters, connecting 37.8 percent of his triples and averaging 1.4 three-pointers per game. John Weston (Tampa, Fla./Bolles School) also helped the Shoremen as the starting point guard last season. He averaged 5.4 points and 3.0 rebounds. Sophomore Peter Gould (Philadelphia, Pa./Delaware Valley Friends) did not have a significant amount of playing time during his freshman year.
Senior Tony Hawkins (Mt. Ephraim, N.J./Haddon Township) returns to the team after his one-year absence. He averaged 7.6 points and 3.8 rebounds per game and made 13 of the 31 three-point field-goal attempts two seasons ago. Junior Sean Flanigan (Wilmington, Del./St. Mark's) started every game for the Shoremen last season, with an average of 6.4 points and 3.9 rebounds per game.
Sophomores Pat Morgan (Havertown, Pa./Haverford) and Dave Knox (Warrington, Pa./Central Bucks South) also return under head coach Rob Nugent's rotation. Morgan served as a "stretch four" off Washington's bench, with an average of 5.3 points per game and 37.8 shots made from the three-point range. Knox contributed 3.0 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. Sophomore Alexis Chahine (Columbia, Md./Glenelg) is expected to get more playing time this season after playing in 11 games as a freshman, while junior Connor Silhanek (Lansdale, Pa. North Penn) also returns to Washington, providing depth for the Shoremen. Five new guards are also on the Shoremen's roster: sophomore Dennis Gabert (Springfield, Pa./Malvern Prep,) freshman James Drury (Jenkintown, Pa./Germantown Academy,) Tom Falconiero (Moorestown, N.J./Bishop Eustace,) Austin Murphy (Souderton, Pa./Souderton,) and Bryan Shapiro (Bala Cynwyd, Pa./Lower Merion.)
Nugent returns as the Shoremen's head coach for his 13th season. Assistant coach Dorian Long returns for his second season and Dale Becraft, who served under Nugent during the 2006-07 season, returns for his second time as an assistant coach for the Shoremen.
The Shoremen will play Division I Howard University on Nov. 8 in a game that counts as a regular-season game for Howard but as an exhibition game for the Shoremen. Washington will open the regular season at home against their Eastern Shore rival Salisbury on Nov. 15. Washington's non-conference schedule includes home games against Catholic and Wesley and road games at Hampden-Sydney and Division I VMI, as well as a pair of games at Washington and Lee's Tournament Dec. 29 and 30. Washington College will play Williams, where Nugent once served as an assistant coach, in the first round of that tournament and then play either the Generals or Cairn University the next day. The Shoremen begin their Centennial Conference play with a home game against Muhlenberg on Nov. 23