2016-17 CWRU Men’s Basketball Season Recap

2016-17 CWRU Men’s Basketball Season Recap

The Case Western Reserve University men's basketball team highlighted their 2016-17 campaign with a pair of non-conference tournament victories, and wins in three of their last five games, during Head Coach Todd McGuinness' first season at the team's helm.

As a team, CWRU averaged 74.7 points per game during the season, shooting 42.3% overall from the floor, including a 34.3% mark from behind the three-point arc.  The team's 233 made three pointers during the year were the second-most in program history, while ranking as the third most in the University Athletic Association and 67th in Division III.  The Spartans finished the year with an 8-17 overall record, including a 3-11 conference mark, good for a seventh-place finish in the UAA.

Junior forward T.J. Duckett led the team with a breakout season, averaging 13.9 points and 9.3 rebounds per game and earning a spot on the All-UAA First Team, while senior guard Javier Alvarez added 10.8 points per game and team-highs with 4.5 assists and 2.0 steals per game to earn an all-conference honorable mention.  Junior guard Colin Zucker also averaged double-figure points during the campaign, scoring 11.2 per game on 39.7% shooting from long range.

Juniors David Black (8.5 points per game) and Eric Black (7.7 points, 5.7 rebounds) added depth among the returners to the rotation throughout the season.  In addition, the squad benefitted from the emergence of a large freshman class, including Sam Hansen (6.5 ppg) and Connor Nally (5.8 ppg, 42.7 3PT%), who played in all 25 games during the year.

The Spartans' first win of the McGuinness era came at home on November 18th, when the squad topped Trinity University (Texas) 72-71 at the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Tournament on a put-back by Eric Black with eight seconds remaining in the game.  CWRU performed well at two other tournaments during its non-conference schedule, claiming victories over Lynchburg and host Juniata to win the Doc Greene Tournament, and Penn State – Harrisburg and host Franklin and Marshall at the Sponaugle New Year's Tournament.  Duckett was named the Most Valuable Player of the Doc Greene Tournament (earning D3hoops.com Team of the Week and UAA Athlete of the Week honors for the effort), while Zucker claimed tournament MVP honors at the Sponaugle New Year's Tournament.

After struggling to start the UAA season, the Spartans finished their conference slate strong, with three victories in their final five games.  Freshman guard Regan Mohler emerged as a scoring threat late in the year, registering 19 points in just eight minutes against sixth-ranked Washington University (Mo.) on February 5th, and then helped lead the team to an 84-81 win over NYU at home with 24 points on February 10th, the team's first UAA victory of the season.  The Spartans followed that game with an 88-66 win over Brandeis, with Hansen fueling the team's largest margin of victory by going a perfect six-of-six, all from long range, during the contest.

The highlight to the team's season came on February 19th, when the team topped sixth-ranked University of Rochester 76-72 in New York on February 19th.  CWRU was led by a 27-point performance by Zucker and 19 points for Nally, while the defense held Rochester scoreless over the final 3:23 of the game.  A three-pointer by Alvarez with 3:05 left to play in the contest gave CWRU the lead for good.  The win over the Yellowjackets, who would go on to reach the Elite Eight of the NCAA Championships, was the team's first over a ranked team since 2015, and marked the highest-ranked opponent toppled by the Spartans since a 2013 win, also over Rochester when it was ranked sixth in Division III.

Despite the final record, the Spartans proved to be a tough opponent throughout the campaign.  Three of the team's losses came in overtime, with the squad dropping 10 games by ten points or less, including four losses by five points or fewer.

Duckett finished the year with 232 rebounds, the fourth-highest total in program history, while Alvarez' 113 assists were the seventh-most ever in a campaign by a CWRU player.  Zucker's 60 made three pointers were the fifth-most in a campaign in program history, and he ended his junior campaign tied for 12th in school history with 116 made threes.

In addition to their success on the court, three Spartan players – Duckett, junior guard Jake Lavis and Zucker – received UAA All-Academic recognition following the season.

The Spartans earned the following awards and honors during the 2016-17 season:

 

All-University Athletic Association

T.J. Duckett

Washington, D.C. / St. Anselm's

First Team

Javier Alvarez

Coral Gables, Fla. / Belen Jesuit Preparatory

Honorable Mention

 

Sponaugle New Year's Tournament

Colin Zucker

Twinsburg, Ohio / Gilmour Academy

Most Valuable Player

Connor Nally

South Lyon, Mich. / Detroit Catholic Central

All-Tournament Team

 

Bill Sudeck Holiday Tournament

David Black

Avon Lake, Ohio / Saint Ignatius

All-Tournament Team

 

Doc Greene Tournament

T.J. Duckett

Washington, D.C. / St. Anselm's

Most Valuable Player

Javier Alvarez

Coral Gables, Fla. / Belen Jesuit Preparatory

All-Tournament Team

 

Stephanie Tubbs Jones Memorial Tournament

T.J. Duckett

Washington, D.C. / St. Anselm's

All-Tournament Team

 

D3hoops.com Team of the Week

T.J. Duckett

Washington, D.C. / St. Anselm's

Dec. 12

 

UAA Athlete of the Week

T.J. Duckett

Washington, D.C. / St. Anselm's

Dec. 12

 

The following were the Spartans statistical leaders during the 2016-17 season:

 

Points per game

T.J. Duckett

13.9

Assists per game

Javier Alvarez

4.5

Rebounds per game

T.J. Duckett

9.3

Steals per game

Javier Alvarez

2.0

Blocks per game

Eric Black

1.1