Muhlenberg College

Allentown, Pa.
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Wednesday, November 19, 2003
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Mule Teams Open on Friday
Men’s Team Going with Youth Movement

The Muhlenberg men’s basketball team isn't exactly wiping the slate clean, but there will be many differences between the 2003-04 squad and those of seasons past.

The most obvious change will be in the new faces. Only eight players, none of whom are seniors, return from last season, and just six of those were regular varsity contributors. There are 11 freshmen on the roster, several of whom will be needed to step in and play right away.

The Mules also will face a new schedule. Gone are the East and West divisions of the Centennial Conference. In their place is one division and a double round-robin league slate, with the top four teams qualifying for the playoffs.

Ryan Bonda
Bonda’s 37-point output against Widener was the highest by a CC player last year.

Coming off a 10-14 season in which they missed the CC postseason for the first time, the young Mules are eager to turn the page and begin a new chapter in Muhlenberg basketball history.

“Everything seems like it’s coming together, and everyone’s getting used to each other,” said junior co-captain Donté Borden, who will start at point guard after two seasons as a reserve. “We have a pretty balanced team and we can go deep in all the positions.”

The team’s top returning player statistically is junior shooting guard Ryan Bonda. He was second on the team in scoring last year (11.7 points per game) and made a team-leading 43 three-pointers. Junior co-captain Chase Licata had a breakthrough season in 2002-03, emerging as a team leader on the court with his high-energy style of play. He averaged 8.0 points and 4.5 rebounds as an undersized forward.

No other returning player averaged more than 3.0 points per game, but all showed promise. Sophomore co-captain Jimmy O’Brien recovered after starting the season on the sidelines to average 2.9 points and 2.0 rebounds as a reserve forward. Junior Dennis Severino was a top shooter for the junior varsity team for two years and has had an excellent preseason. Sophomore guard Mike Goin established himself as a solid defender as a freshman.

The Mules were picked sixth in the CC preseason poll, behind Franklin & Marshall, Gettysburg, Johns Hopkins, Ursinus and Washington. “We might be the underdogs, but there’s only one thing we can do about that,” concluded Borden. “That’s just go out and play and see what we can do.”

Women to Play at Up-Tempo Pace

Need a good workout? Never mind practicing with the Muhlenberg women’s basketball team; just try watching one of its games.

To take full advantage of their tremendous depth, the Mules have adopted a frantic style of play that features lots of running and pressing, lots of
Susan Marchiano
Marchiano averaged a team-best 9.6 points and 7.5 rebounds in 15 games last year.
substituting and lots of scoring.

“We’re trying something new this year that uses everyone’s individual talent,” said senior Erin DeVaney. “Our fast-paced play will be exciting to watch.”

Muhlenberg showed its depth last year, with 11 players starting at least one game and 12 scoring in double figures at least once. The Mules lost only two of 18 players from that team, which went 17-9, with all nine of its losses coming to teams that won 20 games and earned postseason berths. The bulk of the team consists of two classes: six fourth-year seniors, who have considerable experience, and eight sophomores, who gained experience last year and should be much improved this time around.

The philosophy behind the style is to wear down opponents who are not as deep. The Mules, who won seven of the last eight Centennial Conference East Division titles, hope it will lead them to the top of the new one-division CC. They were picked second to Johns Hopkins in the preseason poll.

Although the squad has two talented freshmen, the biggest addition may be a healthy Susan Marchiano. The 5-11 center had a sensational sophomore season, but struggled with a back injury that had her in and out of the lineup all last season. If Marchiano can return to her form of two years ago, it will give the Mules a big boost.

In Marchiano’s absence, Jill Friedman had the opportunity to show her talents, and she did that well enough to earn All-CC honorable mention. Friedman, a co-captain, led the team in total points and total rebounds as well as blocked shots.

Joining Friedman on the all-conference team was senior Becky Richmond, who averaged 9.3 points and a team-leading 7.7 rebounds to make the All-CC second team. An undersized power forward, Richmond showed improved shooting range as a junior, making 17 three-pointers.

Senior co-captain Lindsay Tis returns as the starter at the small forward spot. Already established as a solid defensive player, Tis had her best offensive season, averaging 7.8 points.

Other returnees in the frontcourt include senior Amber Nelson (4.1 points, 2.9 rebounds) and sophomores Stephanie Coluccini (5.2 points, 4.8 rebounds), Lacie Smith (3.2 points, 2.8 rebounds), Michelle Hirst (3.0 points, 3.6 rebounds) and Valerie Robuck.

The only glaring hole the Mules have to fill is at point guard, where their starter of the past two years graduated. Junior defensive specialist Aril Bryant and sophomores Kristen Piscadlo and Sam Tager all took turns at the point last season and figure to do the same this year.

Junior Gwen Doyle returns at shooting guard after making a school-record 46 three-pointers and averaging 8.7 points. A tenacious defender, Doyle received All-CC honorable mention.

DeVaney (15 three-pointers) and sophomores Tiffany Kirk (17) and Lindsay Orosz (eight) also contributed to Muhlenberg's school-record 144 three-pointers in reserve roles.

The Mules’ season will feature some midseason magic, in the form of the Land of Magic Classic in late December, and they hope it has postseason magic as well.

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Last updated November 19, 2003