Buffalo, NY - The D'Youville Spartans men's basketball team begins the 2018-19 season with high expectations and a mix of experience and talented youth make up this year's Spartan roster.
"We are in the unique position of being a young yet veteran squad," eighth year Head Coach Earl Schunk said. "We have a lot of players who have played a lot of meaningful minutes, and have added important contributors with our new additions."
Five seniors return, who all played big roles last year. Leading the way for the team on offense is 6-foot-6 guard Jeremy VanDuluitgaarden (Verona, NY/Vernon-Verona-Sherrill) is a matchup nightmare who led the team in scoring and was third team All-Conference as a sophomore. Forward and co-captain Will VanAuken (Caledonia, NY/Caledonia-Mumford) is great defender and rebounder, doing all the important things that do not always show up on the stats sheet.
At 6-foot-7, Jake Socha (Tonawanda, NY/Niagara Catholic) returns from a mid-season injury to add an inside presence. He was the team's second leading scorer in 16-17. Brian Nwaekeke (Corona, CA/John F. Kennedy) stands at 6-foot-2 came into his own last season, recording multiple double doubles from the guard position. His unique mix of strength and agility will cause nightmares for opponents this season. Senior guard Devon Camel (Cheektowaga, NY/Cheektowaga) is an excellent on the ball defender who attacks the basket and is efficient offensively.
Junior and co-captain Simeon Heard (Rochester, NY/Charles Finney) is the emotional leader of the squad, and is a threat at both ends of the floor. He will assist in triggering the fast break attack. Sophomores Brian Sharp (Newark, NY/Newark), an excellent shooter and Jagdeep Drumgoole (Rochester, NY/Early College), a strong defender who attacks the rim will be important pieces to the puzzle.
Coach Schunk is very excited about the Spartans' newcomers. "We wanted to get quicker and have more depth to play the style I prefer, and I think this group allows us to do that," he stated.
Transfer wingman Grant Beyer (Williasmville, NY/St. Joes's) adds a solid inside-outside game, attacking the hoop along with a solid outside shot. Freshman point guard Devon Darrell (Lockport, NY/Lockport) is a true floor general who can also defend and score. He will be counted on keep up the offensive tempo and find the right people to finish.
Four freshman wings, Trey Boling (Tonawanda, NY/St. Joe's), Kyle Ebert (Lake View, NY/Frontier), Kenari Curry (Syracuse, NY/Henninger), and Latrell Butler (Olean, NY/Olean) are long and athletic and will contribute early. They all are stellar defenders who will only improve as the season progresses. Forward Jake Funderburk (Amherst, NY/Amherst) is a strong rebounder who is quickly coming into his own as a scorer and Mike DiPane (Seaford, NY/St. Anthony) is showing a lot of potential at the forward spot as well.
The team looks to revitalize the "RUN-DYC" mantra that they have been known for in past seasons.
"We actually played at the fastest pace in the conference for the past two seasons," Schunk commented, noting the team averaged over 80 possessions per game last season. "We are looking to up that to 90-100 possessions this season while becoming more efficient on offense. If we can accomplish that, the sky is the limit."
The squad will look for a lot of exciting games in the College Center Gym this season. "We want to play at a level worthy of the best gym in the conference, which I believe we have."