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2006-07 Preview: Colgate Raiders

5 November, 2006

by

“Déjà Vu” hits movie theatres in a couple of weeks, but Colgate supporters are getting a sneak preview of it as they try to size up their team. A year ago today, most Colgate previews said the Raiders had a chance to sneak into the top of the league, and cited their deep backcourt and power forward Kendall Chones as the reasons why. After a 4-10 league record last year, you can paste last year’s preview and it would still hold true. Colgate returns a slew of experienced players and seems full of potential. But can they get past the disappointment of last season and play up to their potential? More than any other team in the Patriot League, the Raiders are going to be a mystery until they begin playing.

Point
A point by nature, Jon Simon will finally get a chance to run the offense in Colgate after spending time as an off-guard. Simon is the Raiders’ leading returning scorer and shot-taker, and even as a point guard Simon’s shooting will factor heavily into the offense. Not a great outside shooter (36.4 percent for three last year), Simon is nonetheless Colgate’s best outside threat, so he will spend a lot of time above the key where he can shoot treys or pass as the situation dictates. Simon is a pesky defender, who led the Raiders in steals last season. It’s no accident that the top Patriot League teams last season were led by reliable point guards Abe Badmus, Torey Thomas and Joe Knight. Having Jon Simon gives Colgate a head start in the league; if Simon continues developing into a leader and a scorer then Colgate may be able to crash the party on the top half of the league.
Rating: OO

Wing
Junior guard Kyle Roemer, Colgate’s leading scorer last year with 11.4 points per game, is lost for the season to an ankle injury. Replacing him in the lineup will be Willie Morse, a transfer from St. Bonaventure. Morse, who was out of commission most of his redshirt year after being struck by lightning in the summer of 2005, is expected to be back and fully healthy. Morse is a dangerous shooter who has a lot of offensive production to pick up in Roemer’s role.

Kyle Chones, the other wing, will play more of a swingman/small forward position. Kyle had to log a lot of frontcourt minutes last year, and he led the team in rebounds with 5.0 per game but struggled to score in the interior. However, at 6-5 and 227 lbs., Kyle will be bigger and stronger than most of the defenders matched against him. He can be counted on to pick up some of Roemer’s scoring load, and to be an effective rebounder from the wing. Colgate’s backcourt isn’t as reliable as it was set to be with Roemer, but between Kyle Chones, Morse and Simon, the Raiders will still be able to stretch the floor and put points on the board.
Rating: OO

Post
Kyle’s brother Kendall Chones is a powerful, athletic forward who can do a lot for the Raiders. Last year, Kendall was a reliable scorer (48.5 percent from the field) who pulled down 4.3 rebounds per game and played tough interior defense. Colgate backers are expecting Kendall to take a step forward this year and become one of the dominant forces in the Patriot League. To do so, he’ll need to continue to work inside and get to the free throw line but become a more efficient foul shooter; Kendall led the Raiders last year with 87 free throw attempts but converted only 59.8 percent of them.

Masters student Marc Daniels returns to his familiar center position for Colgate. The 6-8 Daniels played well close to the basket on both ends of the floor; he converted 51.4 percent of shot attempts and averaged 4.0 rebounds and 1.0 block per game. Daniels won’t give the Raiders a lot of offense or spectacular plays, but he is a reliable presence and the most consistent player on the team. His sure-handedness makes it hard for opponents to focus on Kendall Chones in the post or baseline.
Rating: OO1/2

Bench
After getting little playing time as a freshman last year, Trevaron Vinson will back up Simon at the point, and occasionally play alongside Simon. Vinson is an athletic defender and fairly good passer. He will rarely be asked to be a scorer for Colgate. Tim Pounds, who missed all of last year for injury, will see time on the wing. He’s been an effective scorer in limited minutes in the past. Seniors Todd Checovich and Dan Gentile will also be in the backcourt mix. Checovich is an excellent rebounder and defensive player, and Gentile is a shooter who hit 41.1 percent of his three-point attempts last year.

Up front, Colgate gets a big boost from the return of Alex Woodhouse, who missed all of last year with a knee injury. As a freshman in 2004-05, Woodhouse played athletic interior defense, posting 1.1 blocks and 4.6 rebounds per game. Colgate will sub Woodhouse for Kendall Chones when they need more size on defense. Speaking of size, 6-10 Peter Minchella will see backup time and Colgate hopes he can begin to develop into a post presence. Minchella has yet to prove himself as a scorer or defender in the limited minutes he’s played. Freshmen Joe Guiler and Ben Jonson will be competing with Minchella for minutes. Guiler was a very good defender in high school but may be too lean to play a dominant post this year. Jonson is an energetic and athletic rebounder.
Rating: OO1/2

Coaching Track Record
Emmett Davis has put up some good years at Colgate, but his teams have underachieved relative to expectations the last two years. It’s easy to think back to this time last year; Colgate was hailed as a potential upstart with a deep backcourt and Kendall Chones up front. But the Raiders sputtered in Patriot League play, going winless against everyone except Army and Navy. Now, Colgate seems to have the same buzz it had last year. The results may be different this year, but Davis has to prove he can lead his team to realize its potential before he gets the benefit of the doubt. If the Raiders break through to the upper echelon of the Patriot League, Davis will get all the credit in the world in this space next year.
Rating: O1/2

Schedule
Colgate starts softly this year with a series of low-major opponents, including Stony Brook, Canisius, Binghamton, Harvard and Quinnipiac. The Raiders then hit the road, playing at Syracuse, Arizona State, UC Riverside, and Santa Clara in succession in late December, before coming into league play. Colgate faces a make-or-break section of its schedule starting Jan. 13, where it travels to American, Lehigh, and Bucknell before coming home to face Holy Cross. That gauntlet could bury Colgate in the league standings very early; conversely a strong showing by the Raiders could stake them to a good record as they enter the softer part of their schedule. Colgate will take part in ESPN’s BracketBuster on Feb. 17, facing an opponent to be named later.
Rating: O1/2

Overall
The pieces seem to be in place for Colgate to jump into contention, but as previously noted, this isn’t the first time observers have said that about the Raiders. Roemer’s injury doesn’t kill Colgate, but Davis will have to rely that much more on Morse and Kyle Chones. If those two players can score consistently, Colgate will be very difficult to stop.

Best-case scenario: Kendall Chones dominates down low, Simon and Morse hit their shots all season long, and Colgate makes the leap to a 10-4 season.

Worst-case scenario: Morse can’t adjust to playing huge minutes, Kendall Chones and Woodhouse can’t stay on the court, and the Raiders repeat last year’s 4-10 record.

Most likely scenario Morse and the Choneses struggle with consistency, Colgate beats some better teams but loses to some less talented teams, and Davis’s squad winds up with a 7-7 league record.
Rating: OO

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