FORT WAYNE, Ind.—New faces abound for the 2013-14 version of the Indiana Tech men’s basketball team as fourth year head coach Al Grushkin returns just three players from last year’s 21-10 squad. Despite the lack of familiarity, Grushkin remains confident in the newcomers.
“The guys have worked really hard in the preseason,” stated Grushkin. “We have great size this year, something we’ve lacked in the past. Our defense needs to carry us in the early going until our offense develops chemistry.”
The Warriors will look for this new group of athletes to lead them to a fourth straight 20-win season and another trip to the NAIA National Tournament.
The three holdovers from last season are Nick Lewis (Fort Wayne, Ind./Snider HS), Jeff Hoskins (Kalamazoo, Mich./Kalamazoo Loy Norrix HS) and Antwan Cathey (Memphis, Tenn./Trezevant HS). Unfortunately for Tech, both Hoskins and Cathey have missed most of the preseason with injuries, making the tough schemes put in place by coach Grushkin even harder to implement.
Lewis is a former Snider standout where he averaged 20.1 points, three assists and two steals per game as a senior while being named First Team All-Conference, First Team All-Northeast Indiana, All-State honorable Mention and state runner-up. For Tech Lewis appeared in nine games, averaging 2.4 points per game.
Hoskins is a team captain and a three-year starter for the Orange and Black, starting all 31 games last season, averaging 9.8 points and 2.7 rebounds per game while also tallying 81 assists, second on the team. Unfortunately, the junior will miss the first half of the season, hoping to come back strong in the second half. “Jeff did some great things for us at the point last season and his experience and leadership on the court will be missed,” Grushkin articulated.
Cathey, a 6-7, 235-pound forward, played in 28 games and started four last season for the Warriors, averaging 2.1 points per game. The Eastern Oklahoma State transfer was the starting center for the fourth ranked NJCAA squad that finished 51-16 in the 2011-12 season.
“Cathey is a physical specimen, a solid athlete and is very improved in all aspects of his game,” Grushkin stated. “He is a solid rebounder and plays great defense. He was All-Memphis First Team and All-State Honorable Mention and he should make an impact this season.”
The guard position is full of new faces to join Lewis and Hoskins with Devonn Gavin, Tanner Watkins (Pendleton, Ind.), Jalen Packer (Princeton, Ind./Princeton Community HS), Rontray Chavis (Princeton, Ind./Princeton Community HS), King Bradley (New York, N.Y./Vermont Academy) and Derek Hamner (Tuscaloosa, Ala./Hillcrest HS) all in the running.
Gavin is a Kennedy King C.C. transfer who was an All-Region point guard that is extremely fast and athletic and creates opportunities for others. The Rochester, N.Y. product was named the MVP of the Catholic School/Public School All-Star game. While at Kennedy King, Gavin averaged 16 points, five rebounds and five assists. Gavin will join the Warriors in the second half of the season as well.
Watkins is a freshman point guard from Lapel High School who averaged 11.2 points and 5.5 assists per game while being named ICC All-Conference (2011-13), Honorable Mention All-State (2013) and became the sixth 1,000 point scorer in school history. “Tanner is a heady, tough point guard who battles every day and has a great understanding of the game,” Grushkin said.
Packer is a former Western Illinois University point guard who was highly touted coming out of high school where he led Princeton Community High School to an undefeated season (29-0) and a 3A State Championship.
Chavis played with Packer at Wabash Valley Community College and on the 2009 State Championship team, where he was All-Region and All-State in Indiana. He is a tremendous athlete who scored 48 points in a high school game and 43 points as a junior college freshman. He is the leading scorer in Princeton High School history with over 1,600 points. “Chavis has a chance to be a very good player, and if he works hard the sky is the limit.”
Hamner and Bradley are also in the conversation for playing time at the guard position. Hamner is a strong two-guard that can play the wing and shot 36 percent from the three-point line at Shelton State. Bradley is a solid defender and a very long athlete that should contribute this season.
On the inside, Jeremy Wohltman (Effingham, Ill./Effingham HS), John Cooksey (Spencer, Okla./Star Spencer HS), Parker Stouffer (Wabash, Ind./Southwood HS) and Laurence Mifsud will vie for time with Cathey.
Wohltman is a wing player that was a solid three-point shooter at Lincoln Land Community College where he was the teams leading scorer. “Jeremy moves well without the ball, handles all phases of the game well and will give us another solid outside shooting option,” stated Grushkin.
A power forward from Oklahoma Junior College Region Champion Northern Oklahoma, Cooksey helped lead the team to a 28-4 record where he was a team captain. “He is a great individual and always puts the team first. He’s a former guard with great ball handling skills for his position.” said Grushkin.
Another impact player for Grushkin this season is Stouffer, an Indiana Wesleyan transfer who played two seasons behind a First Team All-American. “Stouffer has a complete post game and can score with either hand. He plays hard and has a great basketball IQ,” Grushkin gleamed.
Mifsud, a Bathurst, Australia native, continues to surprise the coaches as he continues to acclimate to the speed of the U.S. game. “Laurence has solid feet and good post moves. He is a fast learner that works hard every day and should produce for us at some point this season.”
After opening the season on Oct. 26 with a home contest against Wilberforce, the Warriors travel across town to face rival St. Francis who are perennially ranked nationally and return their All-American center. After a trip to Ohio State-Lima on the first of November, the Warriors return home to host Ohio Midwestern (Nov. 5) and a tough Taylor team on Nov. 9.
“Our crosstown rivals are always a good measuring stick early in the season,” said Grushkin. “Our early season games are a great chance for us to get some experience under our belts before a tough conference slate.”
Tech begins Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference play on Nov. 16 against Madonna before hosting Aquinas on Nov. 20. The Warriors take a break from conference play on Dec. 23 with an exhibition against NCAA Division I Detroit, before returning to WHAC action against Northwestern Ohio on Jan. 4.
The Orange and Black close out the season with a match against Concordia on Feb. 22.
“Most of the WHAC teams return the majority of their players from last season and it will provide us with a tough challenge,” Grushkin stated. “Hopefully our defense will be our calling card and if we can limit our opponents’ production we should be able to have another solid season.”
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