By: Justin Littman
Last season – 20-13 (CAA: 12-6), T-1st place
Losses: G Marcus Thornton, F Tom Schalk, F Tyler Johnson
Newcomers: F Hunter Seacat, G David Cohn, F Paul Rowley
Led by senior guard and eventual CAA Player of the Year Marcus Thornton, many thought last season would be the one that William & Mary would finally make the NCAA Tournament. As one of only five original Division I schools to never make the Big Dance, the Tribe played to the very cusp of finally earning an invitation. They fell just short for the second consecutive season, this time losing to Northeastern in the CAA Championship. While it is obviously disappointing that William & Mary was not able to punch their first ticket to the dance during Thornton’s career, the Tribe were able to establish a foundation during his time which has only set the program up for future success.
The fact of the matter is that aside from Thornton, William & Mary had a rather young, undersized roster that struggled against larger, more experienced teams. Still, don’t expect youth to be a negative factor for them this upcoming season. The Tribe return four starters, all upperclassmen, from a team coming off of a legitimate run at the CAA Championship. While the individual performance of Marcus Thornton cannot be replaced, there is reason to believe that there are players on the roster capable of filling in for his production.
Senior guard Terry Tarpey is arguably the most dynamic player in the conference. Listed only at 6’5”, Tarpey led the conference in rebounding (8.4 rpg), ranked sixth in assists (3.2 apg), and was in the top 20 in scoring (11.8 ppg). He also happened to be the defensive player of the year in the CAA last season. He will be expected to be a play-maker on both sides of the ball. Aside from Tarpey, guard Omar Prewitt will also be expected to carry a large portion of the offensive load. Prewitt is a slashing guard with a similar offensive game to Tarpey. They will be trusted to create open shots for the William and Mary shooters.
The Tribe will have to rely on three-point shooting as much as they did last season when they were the best in the conference. Fortunately for them, they have the shooters to pull it off. 6’6” guard Daniel Dixon was the best three-point shooter in the CAA last season, draining 45% of his attempts from downtown. Greg Malinowski was another deadeye from behind the arc last season. The team also adds two knockdown shooters in David Cohn, a transfer from Colorado State, and Paul Rowley, a redshirt freshman, to go along with Dixon and Malinowski. Look for the Tribe to one of the best from behind the arc once again this season.
Bottom line: With an abundance of knockdown shooters and slashing guards, the Tribe will once again run out a high-powered offense. After primarily playing off the ball in the past, Tarpey and Prewitt will be responsible for running the offense this season. The pieces don’t fit together perfectly, but this is a team that certainly has the talent necessary to compete in a rather weak league. While another run at the CAA Championship may be an ambitious goal, it is not entirely out of the question. Don’t count out the Tribe just yet.