2017-18 CWRU Men’s Basketball Season Recap

2017-18 CWRU Men’s Basketball Season Recap

The Case Western Reserve University men's basketball team had a markedly improved season in 2017-18, finishing with four more wins than the previous year, securing a winning record at home, and totaling 12 victories overall during Head Coach Todd McGuinness' second year with the team.

The Spartans finished 12-13 overall, including a 6-8 record in University Athletic Association games.  The six conference wins matched the most in the program's history during a 14-game UAA schedule, and were good for a fifth-place finish in the league, the team's highest conference placing since 2014-15.

The Spartans averaged 75.0 points per game, and finished the campaign with the seventh-most points (1,876) in program history and the second-most three-pointers made (238).  CWRU was 33rd in Division III in rebounds per game (42.08) and 77th in defensive rebounds per game (28.52), leading the UAA in both categories, while ranking second in the league with 9.5 three-point field goals per game (57th in DIII), 13.56 offensive rebounds per game (33rd in DIII) and 3.4 blocked shots per game.

CWRU's success came despite featuring a talented, but inexperienced squad, with just one senior on the roster, and the rest freshmen and sophomores.  First-year players accounted for a total of 989 points during the year, which was close to 53% of the team's total.

While the overall makeup of the team was young, Case Western Reserve was paced by its only senior, forward T.J. Duckett, who earned a spot on the D3hoops.com All-Great Lakes Region Third Team and the All-UAA First Team, becoming just the third player in program history to garner multiple selections to the all-conference first team over his career.  He led all UAA players with 10 double-doubles (54th in DIII), 3.44 offensive rebounds per game (32nd in DIII) and a 59.1 field goal percentage (41st in DIII), while pacing the squad with 13.3 points and 10.1 rebounds per game during the campaign. 

The Spartans were also aided by the emergence of freshman guard Ignas Masiulionis, who was second on the team with 11.6 points per game, and claimed an honorable mention to the All-UAA team, becoming the first Spartan freshman to secure an All-UAA honor since the 2011-12 season, and just the fourth since 2000-01.  Sophomore forward Michael Hollis also emerged as a threat for CWRU, averaging 6.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, while leading the team with 3.4 assists, 0.9 blocks and 1.2 steals per game.

Other top players for the team included freshman guard Antonio Ionadi (7.3 ppg), sophomore guard Monty Khela (7.9 ppg) and sophomore forward Connor Nally (7.9 ppg).

After suffering three-straight losses to begin the season, the Spartans bounced back to win seven of their next nine games.  Included in that stretch was a 106-56 win over Wells to clinch the title at the 2017 Bill Sudeck Holiday Tournament, during which the Spartans set program records with 20 made three pointers and a 50-point margin of victory.  Duckett averaged 19.0 points and 10.0 rebounds over the two games of the tournament, earning Most Valuable Player honors, while freshman guard Michael Volkening was named to the all-tournament team after averaging 13.5 points, 6.0 assists and 3.5 rebounds.

CWRU ended its non-conference schedule with a 6-5 record, and went on to claim a 94-63 win at home over Carnegie Mellon in its UAA opener.  After dropping its next three games (which included a record-matching seven-three pointers by Nally during a loss to Emory), the Spartans went on a five-game conference winning streak, the longest stretch of consecutive UAA wins in program history.  CWRU began the streak with a 78-73 win at home over Chicago, and then went on the road to claim an 89-58 win at Brandeis and a 77-75 overtime victory at NYU.  The win in New York, which was keyed by Masiulionis' season-high 22 point effort, marked the first for the Spartans on the road against the Violets since the 1999-00 season.

Case Western Reserve returned home for its annual Throwback Weekend on February 2nd and 4th, and continued its hot streak with a 69-64 win over Brandeis and a 73-57 victory against New York University.  Duckett paced the Spartans to the wins, averaging 20.0 points and 11.0 rebounds, earning a spot on the D3hoops.com Team of the Week for the second time over his career.

While the Spartans were unable to replicate that success for the remaining five games in their season, CWRU put a scare into 13th-ranked Emory, falling 75-72 on 'Senior Day' on February 11th.  Other highlights from the back end of the season included Hollis' career day with 18 points, 12 rebounds and three assists during a loss at Chicago on February 18th.

In addition to their success on the court, Duckett, sophomore guard Sam Hansen, Hollis and Nally each received UAA All-Academic honors for their accomplishments in the classroom.

CWRU men's basketball players earned the following honors during the 2017-18 season:

 

D3hoops.com All-Great Lakes Region

T.J. Duckett

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

Senior

Forward

Third Team

 

All-University Athletic Association

T.J. Duckett

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

Senior

Forward

First Team

Ignas Masiulionis

Vilnius, Lithuania / Culver Academies (Ind.)

Freshman

Guard

Honorable Mention

 

Bill Sudeck Holiday Tournament

T.J. Duckett

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

Senior

Most Valuable Player

Michael Volkening

Marengo, Ill. / Marengo Community

Freshman

All-Tournament Team

 

Stephanie Tubbs Jones Memorial Tournament

Antonio Ionadi

Pittsburgh, Pa. / Hampton

Freshman

All-Tournament Team

 

D3Hoops.com Team of the Week

T.J. Duckett

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

Forward

February 6

 

HoopDirt.com Coach of the Week

Todd McGuinness

February 6

 

UAA Athlete of the Week

T.J. Duckett

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

January 8, February 6

 

The following were the CWRU men's basketball team leaders in 2017-18:

 

Points per game

T.J. Duckett

13.3

Assists per game

Michael Hollis

3.4

Rebounds per game

T.J. Duckett

10.1

Steals per game

Michael Hollis

1.2

Blocks per game

Michael Hollis

0.9