HIRAM, Ohio - November 7, 2019 – With nine returning letter-winners and four returning starters, as well as 10 incoming freshman, Hiram Terriers men's basketball heads into the 2019-20 campaign looking to reach new heights.
Entering their sixth year under Head Coach Chris Kibler, the Terriers reached the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) Quarterfinals for the fourth-consecutive year in 2018-19, finishing the season 12-14 (9-9 NCAC).
Kiber is joined on the bench this season by Kyle Jefferson (3rd Season), Maxx Sweet (2nd Season), Dave Smith (1st Season), Robert Cecil (1st Season) and Joe Zoltowksi (3rd Season).
The Terriers were picked to finish seventh in the NCAC Preseason Coaches' poll. However, Hiram has finished better than their preseason prediction each of the last five years under Kibler, most recently finishing sixth in the NCAC.
"Our expectations never change. We expect to exceed expectations and understand expectations can change as a season unfolds," Kibler said, "We don't give much stock to the pre-season coaches poll, but we were picked 7th and will certainly work to exceed that expectation. For the last four seasons we have always finished above our predicted finish. We are also only one-of-three teams that have finished in the top half of the league each of the last four seasons."
The Terriers return three of their top five scorers, led by senior Sherman Dean III, who averaged a team-high 13.1 points per game last season. Also returning are junior Jalen Kirksey (12.0 PPG) and sophomore Antonio McQueen (10.9 PPG).
Hiram will have to replace their lone All-NCAC selection, Marcel Rice, who earned Honorable Mention All-NCAC honors, averaging 13.0 points and 6.0 rebounds per game in his senior season in 2018-19.
"Blatt is one of the best defenders in the conference and does an outstanding job taking care of the ball and disturbing to teammates. Dean is one of the best shooters in the conference and has a chance to break the school's three-point record. While Kirksey is on pace to break the all-time steals record and is one of the best slashers in the conference," Kibler said.
Defensively, the Terriers return their leading rebounder in McQueen (7.7 RPG), as well as Brodgie Gordon, who led the Terriers with 2.5 assists per game.
Seven freshman, six of whom saw extended action in 2018-19, should see an uptick in playing time, while the Terriers welcome 10 new freshmen to the 2019-20 squad. "We have four-to-five sophomores that will again play a lot of minutes. We will start the season starting three sophomores, including point guard Brodgie Gordon who we believe will have a break out season," Kibler said.
Hiram will look for Gordon, redshirt freshman Texan Moulton and sophomore Tyler McMillion to take a step forward with increased playing time, while freshmen Nassiem Salem (Cuyahoga Heights, Ohio), DeWarren Bolden (Holly Hill, Fla.) and Kevin Beans Jr. (Daytona Beach, Fla.) should see extended action in their first season with the Terriers.
"I'm confident our returners can compete with anyone, and a key to our success will be the development of our freshmen," Kibler said. "It is a strong class and it wouldn't surprise me if 5-6 get a taste of varsity experience this season."
The Terriers face a tough schedule, with four opponents, #5 Wittenberg, #14 Wabash, #21 Wooster and #22 Baldwin Wallace, appearing in the D3Hoops.com preseason poll.
"We have a very young team," Kibler said. "We want to compete to host a home tournament game and advance in our conference tournament. We are as talented as we are young, and we look forward to seeing how far this group can go."
Hiram opens the 2019-20 campaign in Aurora, N.Y. with a matchup against the Wells College Express on Saturday, Nov. 9 at 7:00 p.m. as part of the Wells College Finger Lakes Classic Tournament.
Be sure to keep up to date with Hiram Terriers men's basketball online at HiramTerriers.com and by following the Terriers on Facebook at Hiram College Athletics and on Twitter and Instagram at @Hiram_Athletics.