The Case Western Reserve University men's basketball team will look to build on its strong start to the season, when the Spartans travel to Miami Shores, Florida for the 2018 HoopMIA D3 Holiday Shootout, hosted by Eastern University at the Barry University Health & Sports Center. The Spartans will open play against Widener University on Wednesday, December 19th at 2:00 p.m., followed by a 2:00 p.m. contest against 14th-ranked Plattsburgh State on Thursday, December 20th.
Video (both games): https://goeasterneagles.com/sports/2018/12/5/hoop_MIA_Division3_holiday_shootout.aspx
Live stats (both games): https://goeasterneagles.com/sidearmstats/mbball/summary
The Spartans will enter the week with a 6-2 overall record, and will be taking part in their first neutral-site games of the year at the tournament. CWRU has won back-to-back games and three of their last four overall, including an 80-57 home win over Kalamazoo in their last game on December 8th. The team has averaged 77.0 points per game on 43.0% shooting from the floor and 35.7% from behind the three-point line, while allowing 67.6 points per contest. Sophomore guard Antonio Ionadi leads a quartet of Spartan players averaging at least 10 points this season with 11.8 points per game, shooting 45.8% on three-point attempts. Sophomore guard Ignas Masiulionis (11.6 points per game), sophomore guard Michael Volkening (10.4 points per game) and freshman forward Ryan Newton (10.4 points per game) are each averaging double figures as well, while junior forward Michael Hollis has scored 9.5 points per game and leads the team with 10.3 rebounds per contest.
The Spartans are under the leadership of Head Coach Todd McGuinness, who is now in his third year with the team. During his 10 year career as a collegiate head coach, which includes seven years at Hartwick, he has a 140-104 overall record, good for a .574 winning percentage. McGuinness is assisted by Mike Fitzpatrick and T.J. Duckett.
Widener stands at 7-3 overall this season, including a 1-1 record in neutral-site games, and will face Eastern Connecticut State on Tuesday before playing the Spartans on Wednesday. The Pride have won their last four games, including an 84-71 win over Lycoming on Saturday. The team is averaging 79.7 points per game on 46.6% shooting overall and 40.0% from behind the three-point line, and has allowed 72.9 points per contest. Senior guard Tyler Drews leads the Pride with 17.8 points and 4.7 rebounds per game, while junior guard/ forward Elijah Boyd has added 11.1 points and junior guard/ forward Connor Laverty has scored 10.8 points per game.
Widener is coached by Chris Carideo, who is now in his 13th season with the team. He has gone 186-140 during his time with the Pride, and 272-192 during his 18-year career, which includes a five-year stretch with the Merchant Marine Academy. He is assisted by Billy Leahy, Dexter Harris, Nick Sullivan, and Kendall Green.
Wednesday's game will mark the first-ever meeting between the Spartans and the Pride.
PLATTSBURGH STATE CARDINALS
Plattsburgh State has opened its season with an 8-1 overall record, and will play its first neutral-site game of the season at the tournament against Wesleyan on Wednesday before playing the Spartans on Thursday. Plattsburgh is coming off a 65-57 win at SUNY Geneseo on December 8th, which helped them climb to 14th in the latest D3hoops.com Top-25. The team is scoring 85.8 points per game on 43.1% shooting overall and 33.3% on three-point attempts, with opponents tallying 74.2 points per game. Senior forward Jonathan Patron leads the team with 24.1 points and 10.7 rebounds per game this season, while senior guard Brandon Johnson (14.2 points per game), senior guard/ forward Chris Middleton (12.4 ppg) and junior guard Nick DeAngelis (12.4 points per game) are all averaging double figures as well.
The Cardinals are led by Tom Curle, who is now in his 16th year with the team and has a mark of 280-146 at Plattsburgh. He is in his 22nd year of coaching overall, accumulating a 374-227 mark, which also includes stops at Post and SUNY Poly. Curle is assisted by Chris Manning, John Konowitz and Hang Luo.
When the Spartans and the Cardinals meet on Thursday, it will mark the first meeting in the history of the two programs.
- This season marks the first time since 2014-15 that the Spartans have won six of their first eight games in a season, and the ninth time overall in the program's 48-year history.
- Case Western Reserve is third among UAA teams with 77.0 points per game this season. The Spartans lead the conference with 4.5 blocks per game, have the second-fewest turnovers per game with 13.6 per contest, and are second in the league with a 35.7% three-point shooting rate.
- The Spartans are 4-0 this season in games where Michael Hollis collects 10 or more rebounds. He has averaged 16.5 rebounds in the team's last two games, securing a career-high 17 boards against Adrian on December 4, followed by a 15-rebound performance against Kalamazoo on December 8. Hollis is currently leading all UAA players with 10.3 rebounds per game this season, while also ranking fifth among conference players with a 59.9% shooting mark from the floor.
- Hollis also leads the team this season with 3.1 assists per game in 2018-19. Junior forward Connor Nally has paced the squad with 1.3 blocks per game, second among all UAA players, while Ryan Newton is tied for third in the conference with 1.1 blocks per game. Ignas Masiulionis leads the Spartans and is seventh in the UAA with 1.4 steals per game.
- Case Western Reserve has two of the top-three players in the conference this season in three-point shooting percentage. Antonio Ionadi and Newton are each shooting 45.8% from behind the three-point line this year, tied for the second-best in the league, with Ionadi connecting on 22-of-48 three-point tries, and Newton making 11-of-24 attempts from long range. Masiulionis is 10th in the UAA, shooting 41.0% (16-of-39) from three-point range.
- Ionadi made his first two starts of the season over the team's last two games, leading the team in points in each contest. After registering a then season-best 19 points in the team's win over Adrian, he scored a career-high 24 points during CWRU's victory over Kalamazoo. Over the two games, he has shot 11-of-20 on three-point attempts (55.0%), and made six three pointers against Kalamazoo, one shy of the program's single-game record. Ionadi was named the UAA Athlete of the Week for Men's Basketball following his standout two games.